He's back - this November. MI6's finest agent. You know the number. You know the name. Double-Oh Seven. The name's Bond.
Skyfall, the 23rd official Bond film, hits cinemas just before Christmas, and Mr Bond will, as always, be enthusiastically welcomed back onto our screens. Cars will be fast, women will be faster, things will explode, people will be killed, and one-liners will be delivered with aplomb. It's the same old recipe, but isn't that part of the appeal? It's a formula that works, and has done for 50 years through half a dozen incarnations, with each successive outing raising the bar just enough to keep us interested, to keep us anticipating. No one film is quite the same as the last, proving the old adage about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
James Bond, as a film character, has appeal for both genders. But why? He's a gambler, a smoker, a drinker, a bit of a misogynist (in Goldfinger, he used his first conquest as a human shield, after all), arrogant, smug, and he kills people. None of these traits seem overly appealing. How about this: He's a playboy, a bit of a rogue, an egalitarian, self-confident, witty, and defends his country with his life? Same guy.
Women like him because he's a charmer, a bad boy who you could easily take home to meet your mum. He's wealthy, he's got style, and he delivers bedroom satisfaction like Britain's Got Talent delivers idiocy. Men like him because he's cool, he's got great gadgets, he's got the best company car in the world, he gets to smack people silly as it suits him with no legal repercussions, and he has a larger knicker collection than Tom Jones. Men want to be him, women want to be his (although they know it won't be for long, but it's bound to be good while it lasts).
Everyone has a favourite Bond movie and everyone has a favourite Bond - and, as often as not, that favourite Bond is not in that favourite Bond movie. This author's favourite Bond is undoubtedly the daddy of them all, Sean Connery. But as for favourite Bond movie, that's Roger Moore's debut, Live and Let Die. And for most people, even if they don't like the Bond in the movie (or, in the case of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, if they recognise the film as the weakest of the current 22) they will still watch the movie and root for Bond. Again and again.
So Bond is back - in Skyfall, the series' most syllable-efficient title to date. He will defy orders, drive cars fast, use gadgets, have casual relations with unfathomably gorgeous ladies (almost certainly plural), he will punch people, shoot people, make jokes at inappropriate times and get away with it, and ultimately foil a plot to take over the world (probably). We've seen him do it before, and we'll see him do it again. Because, as Carly Simon so succinctly put it, nobody does it better.