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Pierce Brosnan Pierce Brosnan: The Cocky Bond

By Derek Shiekhi (BondFiend)
January 13, 2008

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Any Bond fan knows that each actor to have played James Bond has defined the character in his own unique way. For instance, many see Sean Connery as “The Tough Bond” (or “The Best Bond.”) George Lazenby is usually defined by his tenure as “The One-Time Bond” (or “That Guy After Connery.”)
Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan...
"The Cocky Bond?"
The distinction of being the lightest-hearted of the Bonds goes to Roger Moore. His successor, Timothy Dalton, is typically seen as the “The Dark, Brooding Bond.” The 1990s brought along Pierce Brosnan, known to many as “The Sensitive Bond” or “The Variety Bond” who combined elements of his predecessors. Now we’re in the era of what many will doubtless one day refer to as “The Kick-Ass Bond,” Daniel Craig.

However, I’m here to suggest a new nickname for Pierce Brosnan, the 5th actor to wear the famous tuxedo: “The Cocky Bond.” Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What’s the big deal? James Bond is supposed to be a little cocky.” That’s true enough, but Brosnan’s interpretation was too cocky for me. Connery’s Bond was cocky, but he was able to get away with it because he was a lovable rogue, the kind of guy who could be a prick but still elicit a smile because he had a natural charisma about him. Roger Moore was cocky as well, but he, too, had charisma and you didn’t take him all that seriously. His easy-going nature kept his cavalier attitude from completely defining him and grating on nerves. Dalton, as many things as he was, never struck me as cocky; intense and confident, yes, but never cocky.

There was a time when Brosnan’s Bond didn’t strike me that way, either. That time was the years between 1995 and 1999. In Goldeneye, Brosnan seemed unsure of himself at times, which is to be expected of an actor in his first outing as 007, but nevertheless he was likeable.
From Russia With Love Orient Express Fight
Bond and Red Grant fight aboard the Orient Express in From Russia With Love
Tomorrow Never Dies was a self-indulgent movie with a decent, inoffensive Bond doing the best he could with what he had to work with and through. Then The World is Not Enough came along and Brosnan’s Bond changed into a pompous ass.

Perhaps it’s unfair to label Brosnan on the basis of one rather forgettable movie, but every other Bond actor has been labeled in the same fashion. Connery earned his title as “The Tough Bond” after he slapped Tania around and beat the living hell out of Robert Shaw on The Orient Express in From Russia With Love. The origin of George Lazenby’s title is a no-brainer. Roger Moore’s flippancy (“What a helpful chap”, “Keeping the British end up”) in The Spy Who Loved Me resulted in his title of “The Lighthearted Bond”. After watching the polarizing License to Kill, it’s clear how Timothy Dalton came to be known as “The Dark, Brooding Bond,” as is the case after watching “The Kick-Ass Bond,” Daniel Craig, in his debut, Casino Royale.

Brosnan is no different from his predecessors; the title proposed here was born from his haughtier-than-thou performance in The World is Not Enough. This is largely attributable to the script, which was rife with bad lines, from the cheesy (“Elektra, this is a game I can’t afford to play”) to those of the typical Hollywood-toughguy (“And I’m giving you the opportunity to walk out with your life.”)
Pierce Brosnan and the Aston Martin from Die Another Day
Pierce Brosnan poses with his Aston Martin from Die Another Day
No matter where the blame lies, lines like the cringe-inducing “Construction is not exactly my…speciality” and, when Q’s replacement, played by John Cleese, questions whether Bond was still injured and on the inactive list, “Yes, well, we’ll see about that” still came out of Brosnan’s mouth. He delivered such lines not with the lovable scoundrel quality of Connery or the whimsical disregard of Moore, but with the stiffness and off-putting arrogance of a stuffed shirt, the rich boy at school who nobody likes because he’s such a prima donna. Thankfully, this blood-boiling smugness largely disappeared in “Die Another Day”, but its prevalence in “The World is Not Enough” was enough to add a new, unwanted dimension to Pierce Brosnan’s interpretation of our favorite spy.

Whether you choose to call Brosnan’s Bond “The Sensitive Bond”, “The Variety Bond”, or “The Cocky Bond,” you can’t call him “The Unwatchable Bond” (although some may choose to call some of his films unwatchable.) Pierce Brosnan was the James Bond that an entire generation grew up with and he gave new life to Spymania in the 1990s. He looked the part of a sophisticated secret agent that was better than all the other movie theater action heroes, but at times his on-screen persona seemed a little too conscious of this.

Article written by Derek Shiekhi (BondFiend)

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