One Heineken Shaken, Not Stirred for James Bond in “Skyfall”

“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.

  • QED42

    Bond’s proper car didn’t even make it to the big screen so it’s not a surprise another part of the character goes out the window. I guess we should count ourselves lucky that he is still British and not a CIA agent.

  • Valcollins10

    Boycott the movie, and boycott the beer! If they can’t afford to make the movies, why make them in the first place? If one isn’t turning a profit, what makes the producers think the next one will? Silly Hollywood.

  • Packrit

    There’s another Bond movie coming out? I think I stopped caring after Casino Royale.

  • sirpopey

    Bond films always have the most obtrusive product placement, ever since Brosnan they’ve been setting the benchmark for how much can be packed in. The thing is, I don’t remember such an outcry when he was driving a Ford in the previous film when the Aston Martin’s are just as much part of his image.

    What gets me even more is that Bond isn’t even that much of a martini drinker!

    In both the books and films he drinks whiskey and champagne more than martinis. It’s also not inconceivable that he would drink a Heineken, plus I think it does more to make Bond relatable as in the recent films the producers have tried to make Craig’s Bond more grounded in reality. Perhaps that makes the stories boring but I’d rather have a poorer plot that at least attempts to evoke some emotion from its characters than a contrived comic book plot that bears no tenuous relation to reality.

    Alas, I digress. I don’t think the Heineken is a problem, it’s the advertising in general that is. If they invested less in those trying to find such placement opportunities and put that into decent writing then things would be a lot better.

    To hell with it, as you made the West Wing reference I vote we just replace Bond with Lord John Marbury. At least then we know he wouldn’t order a weak drink and we wouldn’t have this problem!

  • critterfur

    I think it’s overreacting, but overreacting done out of love (which isn’t such a bad thing). As to Daniel Craig’s Bond movies being boring and generic; I really didn’t like Quantum of Solace (mainly because the U.S. was depicted as the big bad guys), but I loved Casino Royale, which I felt was about as perfect a re-invention of a character as there could be. It dared to be different and returned Bond to his darker, gadget-less roots, and showed a more human Bond than any of the other films ever had, one with weaknesses and doubts, and who hadn’t yet gotten accustomed to the idea of taking another person’s life (which he does rather frivolously in the previous films). It also showcased one of the most interesting “Bond girls” ever, one who wasn’t just there to be fashionable or attractive, but had just as complicated a history as Bond did (and a tragic end, which hadn’t happened since Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).

    However, I hate product placement in films; I didn’t mind it when I was younger (waaay back in the 1980s) and didn’t really recognize the cold hand of corporations drifting into movies, but as I got older, and hopefully wiser, I found that product placement could really stop a film in its tracks (Austin Powers also featured a Heineken placement that made the film feel like one big commercial; even the beloved E.T. had Reese’s Pieces).

    But product placement isn’t new to Bond, whether you realize it or not – after all, as mentioned, Aston-Martin has been riding its coat-tails for years, to the point that James Bond isn’t allowed to drive a different type of car, which makes no sense at all for a secret agent…at least Jason Bourne didn’t feel the need to show brand loyalty, and had a great car chase sequence in what was basically an old compact junker :)

  • Ruth

    The beer is shown during his little sabbatical while everyone thinks he’s dead. He’s also shown drinking other things including the martini. His penchant for drinking actually becomes a weakness in Skyfall.