Sunday, 23 January 2011

Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks


Quantum of Solace had more recognisable Bond elements than Casino Royale - a car chase, a speedboat chase, a plane chase and a dead girl in a hotel room covered in an expensive commodity. And it was arguably the worst movie in the entire series. It's not all about shoving in as many scenes copied from other 007 movies as you can, as Sebastian Faulks should've realised.

Devil May Care is the official sequel, launched with massive hype a few years back, with respected novelist Faulks writing as Ian Fleming. It's about a villain with a funny hand called Dr Julius Gorner (Dr Julius No) with an inscrutable oriental henchman called Chagrin (Oddjob) who's flooding the west with drugs (Mr Big in Live and Let Die) but he also plans to instigate a nuclear war (Blofeld in You Only Live Twice) to get revenge on Britain, which he detests (Hugo Drax.) Bond's first meeting with Gorner is when he wins a game for high stakes despite the rotter cheating - tennis in this case (golf in Goldfinger, bridge in Moonraker, chemin de fer in Casino Royale.) And the henchman Chagrin is killed when he tries to jump Bond and his lady friend on a train (Red Grant in From Russia with Love.)

I wouldn't have a problem with this mish-mash of previous characters and scenes if it was done well, but there so many missed opportunities. There's the interesting addition of an ekranoplan (A real soviet invention - half plane, half boat) but nothing's done with it! Why not have Bond fighting people on the outside of it as goes at 250 miles an hour a few yards above the Caspian Sea? He ends up deep behind enemy lines in Russia at the height of the cold war, but gets out with the minimum of effort. And there's a twist at the end which manages to be pointless, stupid and obvious.

Some of the action sequences are pretty good, including a fight on board a plummeting passenger jet, and I did enjoy the tennis match. But the bits I probably liked best were about food, strangely. There's a lengthy sequence about an Iranian banquet, descriptions of wine, martinis and coffee, and caviar seems to be mentioned every few pages. This really helped the sense of place and time - I got a strong sense of luxurious living in 1967. Or maybe I'm just greedy.


James said...

From my memory if it this book was very poor. James Bond has never been so boring.

Quantum of Solace, while nowhere near the best Bond film sure as shit isn't the worst. It doesn't star Roger Moore for a start! It's biggest problem is that it seems like a filler episode in a larger story. If Mendes's upcoming new Bond movie doesn't carry on from the end then it will be rendered pointless.

Hands down the worst 2 official Bond movies are Moonraker and Die Another Day. (aka Carry on Bond). While Bond is not realism when it works is when it takes place in a world that follows the laws of physics. Moonraker is surprisingly OK until the utterly retarded space battle, a sequence of such fundamental implausibility it destroys any goodwill the film may have earnt. And Die Another Day's many crimes against reality (invisible car, outrunning the sun) are extra unforgivable considering the opening credit sequence shows Bond's brutal imprisonment and torture at the hands of the North Koreans; a dramatic set up repeatedly raped by more camp nonsense than the original Casino Royale and a performance by Halle Berry which suggests her character shouldn't have been called Jynx, but instead Sid James.

Joe said...

Ha ha, can't argue with that. Die another day is deeply, deeply stupid, but it's at least more memorable than quantum. But yes, mendes should finish the arc. Although i don't know why the organisation's called quantum, when it clearly should be Spectre.

Moonraker I haven't seen in years, but I remember good bits, like drax getting his dogs to chase down and kill a woman. Sexy!

Bryce said...

Talk of your missed opportunities... "a dead girl in a hotel room covered in an expensive commodity" Bond spunk?!


Die Another Day is very, very bad. But at least I can remember those bits. I can't remember anything from Quantum; in fact I genuinely forgot that I had ever seen it.

Anyway, is this book why they started getting Charlie Higgson(?) to start doing the Bond Books? Or does he only d the 'young' Bond?

Joe said...

He always has to leave a space on the small of the girl's back so her skin doesn't suffocate in Bond goo.

Actually, that stuff about killing someone by painting their whole body gold? Utter nonsense - made up by Fleming. He also claimed gay men couldn't whistle, although that one hasn't been as widely accepted as fact. Thanks QI!

Higson's been doing those for a bit longer I think, and he only does mini-bond. I see there was an attempt at a young Bond chronicles in the 60s - called 003 1/2. Stupid.

James said...

Drax is not a bad Bond villain at all, but it doesn't matter when the movie ends with uber-henchman Jaws falling in love with a 5 foot blonde girl in glasses and becoming a good guy. So retarded it genuinely ruined Roger Moore Bond movies forever.

Joe said...

yeah, that was a strange turn of events. I think Jaws met her by accident right after trying to kill Bond on a cable car (good scene I remember.) Within days, he's not only convinced her to go out with him (oh the metal teeth, these funny old things?) he's also convinced her to her to blast off into space with him. And kill all of humanity.

I've just looked it up - she had superstrength as well. Very odd movie.