The Real James Bond

I was watching The Italian Job (Michael Caine original, naturally) the other day and it struck me there are similarities between Daniel Craig‘s new gritty Bond and Caine’s wise-cracking Charlie Croker.

Let me explain what I mean. Take it from the top, you’ve got a man who’s a definite character: from Bond’s urgent banter with his team to Croker’s cheeky shout of “Cheerio lads!” as he leaves prison.

On top of that they’re part of an organisation, but have a certain disregard for the rules, for both of them one of their greatest strengths, and to top it off have a shaky relationship with their superiors – Dame Judi Dench‘s M and Noel Coward‘s Mr. Bridger respectively.

One area where you’d think they differ is the law. There’s no escaping Croker’s ‘bad streak’ as he finds himself in a stolen car almost as soon as he’s out of prison, but despite Bond working for Queen and Country, he’s had scrapes with the wrong side of the law for decades, none more so that in his latest iteration, which has seen him being arrested by airport police, almost arrested by the Nambutu Embassy and hunted down by members of MI6 after going rogue.

The pair are also alike in their ruthlessness, though Bond is far more suited to brutality, killing left, right and centre, Croker puts on a stern face as he tells the leader of the Italian mafia that retribution for killing him and his crew will be swift and catastrophic for the Italians of Britain.

There’s one major difference, which is women. A product of the 21st century, Bond’s women are strong and ruthless and not treated like sex objects, in complete contrast to his first regeneration through Sean Connery, but also, notably, one Charlie Croker.

Though any activity with women is only implied in the Italian Job, there’s plenty of them around in the films opening act, painting a picture of a man who uses charisma, unlike Bond, whose use of his now limits to sporadic one-liners in Quantum of Solace.

Of course, I’m not suggesting the two should team up to take on the world in a bizarre mix of espionage and criminality, but the similarities of the two are notable.

So next time you see a Bond film, just think of the kind of man he could have been if he’d gone the other way. What if he’d joined Spectre (or Quantum in the new world order of Bond) and been dispatched as an agent on the other side. All he’d need was a trusty crew of dependable cockneys/toffs on his side and he’d be unstoppable, nothing short of a criminal genius.

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