By Jonathan Reed
Video supplied by Sony Pictures Entertainment©
“The name’s Bond, James Bond.”
Iconic words spoken for over fifty-years. They are synonymous with the debonair, suave, sophisticated and deadly British spy who has ingrained himself in British culture. But how did Bond come to be? Who was the man before Casino Royale? Well finally we can find out.
‘Forever And A Day’ is the story of James Bond, before he was James Bond. On the event of 007’s death, James is promoted to the prestigious position and sent to the French Riviera by ‘M’. Upon arrival he meets Sixteen, an untrustworthy, yet beguiling spy who helps Bond uncover how a British Secret Agent can be gunned down in broad daylight.
Similarly to the timeline of Ian Fleming’s original, ‘Casino Royale’; ‘Forever And A Day’ is set around 1945. Anthony Horowitz, the genius author entrusted with Fleming’s most prized possession beautifully captures the glamour and style of the 1940’s. Infusing the tuxedo elegance with the crisp and precise fire we have come to love from Bond, Horowitz fully captures the nuance of Fleming’s writing. Whilst aspects of the plot were taken from his own original material, Horowitz expertly fills in the gaps while retaining the atmosphere of a modern thrilling spy novel.
What is also a success, are the characters. Sixteen, a woman who manipulates just as well as, if not better than Bond, is beautifully formed. Her slowly revealed dichotomy is compelling and drives the plot onwards at a speedy pace. The villain, gangster Scipio fits the archetypal Bond villain; cold, brutal and physically scarred, he is a sinister addition to the 007 Universe.
What is refreshing about ‘Forever And A Day’ is the authenticity of the story. This is how James Bond became 007 and as the story unravels, this legendary characters iconography feels satisfying. Nothing feels forced, as if Horowitz needed to add some needed element to tie the story with the rest of the series. You can tell this has Fleming’s DNA all over it, except a different hand has brandished the pen.
At 282 pages, the book is also short, but this is beneficial not disadvantageous. The plot moves quickly with Bond traversing across the French Riviera, battling bad guys, sneaking onto luxurious Yachts and playing poker. There are no moments to pause for breath, and so there shouldn’t be – this is James Bond!
As all the elements tie together at the end and we see the fallout of the entire plot, the construction of 007 is complete, and the payoff is wonderful. And this isn’t a new James Bond, changed to fit modern-times. As the final pages turn we are awarded the Bond we all love, the man who has fired down the barrel of a gun, who has been Sean Connery and every other actor since.
‘Forever And A Day’ is a reminder of why certain characters are successful and ones as beloved as Bond shouldn’t change. They are of a time, a certain image which is removed from reality just enough so that it’s made possible to favour a killer. And as you look at the enduring legacy of 007 and the numerous books, films and genres that have stemmed from Fleming’s masterpiece, how apt that Bond’s prequel perfectly describes his lasting image – ‘Forever And A Day.’