“Martini, shaken not stirred Mr. Bond?” ”Nah, I’ll just have a beer.”
Doesn’t really have the classic ring to it, does it?
Daniel Craig recently said the high cost of making the upcoming James Bond film Skyfall was the reason why Bond would be seen drinking Heineken in at least one scene of the 23rd 007 instalment, released later this year. Craig told Moviefone:
”We have relationships with a number of companies so that we can make this movie. The simple fact is that, without them, we couldn’t do it. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is. He added that “This movie costs a lot of money to make, it costs as nearly as much again if not more to promote, so we go where we can. The great thing is that Bond is a drinker, he always has been, it’s part of who he is, rightly or wrongly, you can make your own judgement about it, having a beer is no bad thing, in the movie it just happens to be Heineken.”
Hmm, doesn’t sound like he’s even convincing himself. However good the dialogue is in the scene– and I’m sure/oh goodness I hope it’s miles better than the opening dialogue to this article–seeing Bond drink a beer is jarring. This isn’t a film that’s only going to be watched by die hard Bond fans, it’s a film that’s going to be watched by a lot of people who have learnt to be suspicious of advertising, to spot product placement and who also know that Bond freaking likes martinis okay!?
Stop trying to make it the Bond Supremacy and go back to basics. Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies weren’t excellent for the special effects but for the stories and the cast. The problem isn’t that the stunts aren’t deadly enough but that the Craig-era stories are boring and generic and missing everything that made Bond Bond. The product placement deal is absolutely a step in the wrong direction — it would be bad enough if the recent films had been fantastic, but I think we all know they haven’t been, not as Bond films.
As an article written earlier this month in The Guardian notes:
“Bond’s product placement has increased dramatically in recent films. In 2006′s Casino Royale, Daniel Craig casually informed us that his spiffing new wristwatch was manufactured by Omega. And who could forget Pierce Brosnan’s Ericsson mobile phone in Tomorrow Never Dies, which could administer a 20,000 volt electric shock and control a car via remote control?”
Sure, these sound ridiculous, mainly because Ericsson phones can barely make phone calls, but Bond’s mobile phone isn’t central to his character. His martinis, on the other hand… well. Is his drink the most important thing about him? No. But the attack of the advertisements should come before the film, not during. Despite the fact that Heineken has, according to Advertising Age, been partnered with the 007 franchise for fifteen years, that’s never something that has memorably compromised the characterisation of Mr. Bond. Somehow, this feels different.
Also, just on a practical level, will I watch Skyfall? Yes. Will it make me want to drink a Heineken? Oh absolutely not. Bond’s signature drink is bizarre, especially when you consider President Bartlet’s assessment of a martini shaken, not stirred in the source of all wisdom that is The West Wing:
“Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so not to chip the ice. James is ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.”
But give me a weak martini and crappier special effects over a drop of Heineken any day if it means preserving the integrity of decades of characterization. What can I say, I’m a snob.
Am I overreacting? Do let me know in comments.
Skyfall is out on the 26th October 2012 and stars Ben Whishaw (The Hour), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Helen McCrory (Harry Potter, Hugo), Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter), a returning Judi Dench as HBIC (…whoops, I meant as M) and of course Daniel Craig as 007. Empire have a nifty set preview at this link and you can take a peek at some rather good photos (no beer) in the gallery below.