Saturday, March 24, 2018

The Beauty and Ugliness of James Bond

Promotional artwork for Dr. No, the first James Bond film, showcasing the attributes of 007's female interests

The Oxford Living Dictionary defines beauty as "a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight" and ugliness as "the quality of being unpleasant or repulsive in appearance." Without a doubt, in over 55 years of history the cinematic James Bond franchise has played with beauty and ugliness in 24 official movies. Even the two unofficial films, Casino Royale from 1967 and Never Say Never Again in 1983 have echoed these topics, the first one prominently teasing audiences with a tattooed woman holding two guns. 

The good looks of Sean Connery in 1962:
Dana Broccoli's female instincts told
her she was the right man for the job.
In Ian Fleming's novels, Bond was described as a handsome man resembling musician Hoagy Carmichael. The beauty of his women were thoroughly described by the author (their hair, skin, eyes and body shape) as -by opposition- the ugliness of the villains with their bad plastic surgeries or swollen heads. The first cinematic Bond adventure Dr. No, rather faithful to the source material, has respected the Fleming standards for beauty with a handsome and virile protagonist like Sean Connery and three handsome girls coming from different parts of the world: British gambler and playgirl Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson), the exotic and deadly oriental secretary Miss Taro (Zena Marshall) and the Jamaican native Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress). The film's nemesis were represented by the "three blind mice" assassins, corrupt Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson) and the evil mastermind Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), who of course couldn't match the elegance and physical traits of Sean Connery's 007. Something different, tough, could be said of his future opponents Red Grant (Robert Shaw) and Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) in From Russia With Love and Thunderball, who could perfectly match Bond's poise and looks. 

An interesting insight on how beauty was of the essence for producers Albert R "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman for their shaping of the long-lasting 007 series was the way Sean Connery and Ursula Andress landed in their roles. Cubby and his wife Dana were watching Darby O' Gill and The Little People and when Connery had appeared in the film Dana thought he was an incredible handsome man. The producer followed the female instincts of his wife and on November 3rd, 1961, the then little-known Sean Connery was announced as the star of the adaptation of Ian Fleming's Dr. No. In the case of Andress, it was producer Harry Saltzman who felt absolutely stunned by a photo of the girl in a wet shirt (taken by her husband John Derek) and that eased her way into the role of the native woman Bond meets in Crab Key who doesn't become his love interest until the very last seconds of the film. 

Claudine Auger in a photoshoot for
Thunderball, showing the deadly
side of her character Domino.
Flash forward 55 years later and it looks as if beauty was an uncomfortable word when promoting the Bond films. Since the late 1980s and particularly in the 2010s, probably because of the resurgence of feminist movements, the intelligence of the Bond girls (sorry, Bond women) is emphasized to the point every one of the female leads in the series has become "Bond's equal": a cliché that now feels as a publicity tactic more than an actual definition of the new generation of Bond's ladies. Maybe only Camille Montes of Quantum of Solace can fit the description and only Anya Amasova from The Spy Who Loved Me or Wai Lin from Tomorrow Never Dies can more faithfully fulfill that definition. The other Bond women could be an intellectual or emotional match or even have some knowledge of handguns. But that doesn't make them "Bond's equal" for sure. 

Probably some people would think Bond girls are mere sexual objects when they're not. They never really were and the James Bond saga has empowered much more than other action films. Take into account Honey Ryder wielding her knife and trying to defend herself of No's guards, or Domino Derval (Claudine Auger) saving Bond's life at the end of Thunderball. In You Only Live Twice, all three girls were far more than a pretty body or face: two skilled Japanese secret agents (Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama) and a deadly redhead vixen (Karin Dor) who pretends to commit to Bond's charm only to attempt against his life shortly later. Don't forget how Andrea Anders (Maud Adams) and Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto) dared to betray their dangerous lovers in The Man With The Golden Gun and Licence To Kill, risking their lives to help Bond (Andrea is ultimately terminated by a golden bullet). A good example is also given in The Living Daylights, where Kamran Shah (Art Malik) and his Afghan men look astonished as Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo) rides her horse in the desert with an AK-47 rifle in hand to help Bond, surrounded by the Russian army. Needless to say the Afghan troops weren't used to a woman in their troops and -much less- a woman disobeying a man and going on her own. 

Prelude of an all-girl fight: Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike)
threatens Jinx (Halle Berry) in Die Another Day.
Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) from The World Is Not Enough is a proof that female leads in the Bond films have been empowered by the James Bond series: she used both men for fools: her former kidnapper terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle) and Bond himself, who believed her to be Renard's target for a second time and a woman who lost her in a terrorist attack, when she was actually the mastermind who employed and seduced Renard to kill her father in revenge for not paying her ransom. The following film, Die Another Day, is the first 007 film to feature a well-choreographed fight between the good and the evil Bond girl, and Pierce Brosnan's 007 debut in GoldenEye had an action scene only with the leading lady Natalya (Izabella Scorupco) escaping from all kind of explosions and finding her way out of the doomed workplace attacked by General Ourumov (Gottfried John) and Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen). 

Daniel Craig in a publicity still for 2015's
SPECTRE. His muscular body was displayed
prominently in his James Bond films.
"I wonder why I'm not seeing people comparing six different actors who played James Bond," said an Alicia Vikander fan Twitter account lately complaining on the fuzz provoked by those who preferred Angelina Jolie over the Swedish actress as Lara Croft in the recent Tomb Raider reboot. However, the six men who played James Bond were compared through their looks and acting skills ever since Sean Connery was replaced by George Lazenby in his one shot 007 flick On Her Majesty's Secret Service, released in 1969, almost half a century ago. Some said Lazenby was handsome but not in the scale of Connery, others that he was a complete failure and talked in retrospect of a "forgotten Bond". Roger Moore was labelled as attractive, but it was always pointed out his lack of virility and strength in comparison to Connery, particularly in his last three films where -despite looking very good at 57- he was "too old to play Bond". Then came Timothy Dalton, who received the tag of being too tight for the role and some humour was needed for Bond. Lately, Dalton was very much vindicated by the fans, but there were those who considered his second and last appearance Licence To Kill killed the franchise. The opposite happened with Pierce Brosnan: applauded and admired during his four films where he reinvigorated Bond as an action hero for the 1990s and the new millennium, but now slammed as being too cheesy, soft-spoken and slim built for a man of action as his replacement, the muscular Daniel Craig, who even tolerated the dishonour of a web site boycotting his choice as the rebooted 007 of Casino Royale. 

Ian Fleming's James Bond always had thoughts for appearances and looks: Donovan Grant's Windsor knot on his tie gives him bad feelings in From Russia, With Love and he suggests Honeychile Ryder not to fix her broken nose with plastic surgery in Dr. No. Moreover, in the John Gardner novel For Special Services, he comforts Nena Bismaquer after learning she had one breast removed. For Bond, reason is not always the answer and a lot is given to intuition, that's why someone's look, attitude, beauty or ugliness can tell him something. 

In the case of the EON Production's franchise, despite their political correct production notes, they always knew a reason why men go to watch James Bond films are the attractive women like Ursula Andress, Jill St. John or Britt Ekland. And a reason why women watched them is because they also felt attracted for the physique of Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Daniel Craig, not forgetting the bon mots of Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore and the virility of Timothy Dalton. 

Never judge a book for its cover, they say. But it's always better when a good book has a great looking cover indeed. 

Nicolás Suszczyk 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

'Red Sparrow': From Russia, without love

Poster artwork for Red Sparrow, featuring Jennifer Lawrence as Dominika Egorova.

Nostalgics of the good old days where "Russia was the enemy" may be pleased with the cinematic adaptation of Jason Matthews' Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Francis Lawrence, from the Hunger Games saga and with no relation with the leading actress except directing her for a fourth time in a cinematic production.

Vanya offers Dominika a place in the Russian SVR
Any good Ian Fleming fan would notice that the essence of the film is reminiscent to From Russia With Love, dealing with a civillian sent to a training school to become an operative whose primary body is her sex and body. While Fleming's heroine Tatiana Romanova worked for the state in the 1950s Soviet Union and was sent to seduce and turn James Bond to the Russians, Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) faces a more complex situation.
A Bolshoi ballerina who is incapacitated after an accident on stage, Dominika might lose her main income and the pension paid by the theatre, which includes the modest apartment she shares with her ill mother (Joely Richardson). Feeling she has reached a dead end, she is forced to accept the help of her lascivious and greedy uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts), a member of the SVR (Russia's secret service). First he asks her to perform a small job, to investigate Dmitri Ustinov (Kristof Konrad) a corrupt politican who ends up almost getting raping her. She is saved by a Russian operative sent by her uncle, who brutally strangles the aggressor, but since the SVR wants no witnesses of the death of Ustinov -a word that directly involves Dominika- she feels forced to integrate the ranks of Mother Russia's Red Sparrows, a group of women exhaustively trained (phisically, emotionally and psychologically) to get into the mind of their targets, discover their witnesses, seduce and kill them.

Dominika's target, in this case, Nate Nash (another From Russia With Love connection in the name) a CIA operative assigned to protect a mole in the Russian intelligence known as 'Marble'. Joel Edgerton's character is very good agent for the Americans but is known to have some vices, like drinking in excess, hiring prostitutes and watching pornographic videos with frequency - a situation that may facilitate Dominika's job. Nevertheless, she has started questioning the bases of her devotion to the state and sees in Nate the posibility of a escape route for her and her mother from Vanya and the SVR. 

CIA's Nate Nash comforts Dominika.
Is he a trustworthy escape route?
There are those who may agree that Red Sparrow is not a perfect movie and it has a rather morbid taste for violence and sadism. Over its 160 minutes a good deal of blood ("ten pints of blood" one could say to add more Fleming references) is splashed on the screen. It is, perhaps, the kind of film no-one should invite her girlfriend to watch unless she's really into the spy genre and has a very good stomach. However, the action scenes are not continuous and there is more space for intrigue and psychological introspection, a good example is offered by the scene where the Sparrows are trained by a Rosa Klebb-like matron (Charlotte Rampling) and are ordered to perform overtoned tasks as practising oral sex to fellow Russian soldiers because their body belongs "to the state". The kind of situations that are morally questionable but interesting to get us inside the cruel world of an agency who had their roots in the old KGB or NKDV, yesterday's enemy of civilized order. It may feel offensive to some viewers but perhaps the trick is, indeed, that the audience could be offended by Russia so that we can understand why America (and agent Nash) is the only salvation for this poor and extorted girl.

Jennifer Lawrence proves to be a very effective choice for the main role as a woman who is not the femme fatale the poster campaign for the film tried to sell and it's actually victim of her own country instead of a "black widow" victimizer of the opposition. Charlotte Rampling and Matthias Schoenaerts stand out in very believable performances as the deadly representatives of Mother Russia, while Ukranian actor Sergej Onopko perfectly embodies the lethal Simyonov, a skilled torturer that resembles all the dangers of Russia previously described in the Ian Fleming, Len Deighton and John Le Carré stories. Past meets present.

The technical aspects of the film are very well handled, particularly the use of Mozart and Tchaikovsky compositions and the score by James Newton Howard whose overture resembles Lalo Schiffrin's work for The Fourth Protocol (1987) and enhances drama with the use of violins and other wind instruments. The departments of Jo Willems (cinematography) and Maria Djurkjovic (production design) can transport the viewer to Moscow and Vienna making him forget he's actually located in the middle of a theatre.

Red Sparrow is an entertaining story dealing with intrigue and psychology. A story about survival and resistance more than an action film. A story about relatives, love interests, personal interests and Russian state dealing with all these intimate assets.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Biggest and The Best: Remembering Lewis Gilbert

Lewis Gilbert directing Roger Moore in Moonraker (1979), his third and last James Bond film.

On February 23, 2018, director Lewis Gilbert passed away at the age of 97. He was the first "drama director" of the James Bond series, a path later followed by filmmakers like Michael Apted, Marc Forster and Sam Mendes. Curiously, while the later three "drama directors" embraced their genre and filled the characterization of Bond with complex internal conflicts about his feelings or dedication to duty, Gilbert tought differently.

Hired to direct 1967's You Only Live Twice (the first "last" Bond film starring Sean Connery) a year after the success of Alfie, starring Michael Caine, Gilbert said that 007 was meant to be a big entertainment and full of escapism without too much drama. And while Twice offers a rather poignant scene where Japanese secret service agent Aki accidentally swallows a poison meant for Bond and dies, the film would be the first extravagant Bond movie where the villain plots World War Three to his benefice, operates from a hi-tech lair (in this case, the interior of a volcano) and is run down after an epic battle between Bond's "army" (Tanaka's ninjas) and the opposing forces of SPECTRE guards.

1995 video artwork for The Spy Who Loved Me,
showcasing the climatic battle behind Bond
He wouldn't return to the series until the Roger Moore era with The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, released in 1977 and 1979, respectively. When Ian Fleming specified that the story of his 1962 novel (written in first person from the point of a kidnapped girl saved by Bond) should be avoided except of its title, screenwriter Christopher Wood had the huge challenge to start from the scratch for the 1977 film. This lead to a very suitable film for Gilbert to direct since the plot was very similar in structure and concept to You Only Live Twice: a powerful villain captures a Russian and a British submarine in order to use its nuclear missles to destroy human life and start again with "a beautiful world beneath the sea". 

There are enough quantities of chases and explosions in The Spy Who Loved Me that include a ski chase, a fight inside a train between Bond and the invincible Jaws and the patriotic finale inside the villain's supertanker which, according to author James Chapman in Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films, it's a hidden recreation of World War Two were Bond is joined by the British, Americans and Russians (imprisoned crewmen from the kidnapped submarines) against the villain Stromberg of German lineage (curiously, Stromberg's plot involves the creation of a "new race", just like Hitler). Notably, there was a little drama involved in the story as Anya Amasova, the main girl and a Russian agent who cooperates with Bond, threatens to kill the secret agent when she learns Bond eliminated her boyfriend on a mission. However, this situation is barely a sub-plot hidden under the big action scenes: something that Forster or Mendes would have enhanced in the story much more as Bond's thirst for revenge in Quantum of Solace or his loyalty to Judi Dench's M in Skyfall and after her death in SPECTRE.

German lobby card for You Only Live Twice,
featuring Blofeld inside his volcano lair

Moonraker follows again the same "villain with new world ambitions" predicament with Hugo Drax, who changed sides from being Ian Fleming's bridge cheater war hero who resented England to become an industrialist so interested in the space conquest to the point of eliminating the human race and creating a race of "perfect" specimens on his outer space station. 

The elements of action and humour in Moonraker exceed the extravagancy of The Spy Who Loved Mee and You Only Live Twice with a scene where Bond goes trough St Marks square with a modified gondola (camera takes a detailed shot of a pigeon and a dog looking surprised, a waiter slipping a drink to a costumer played by Gilbert himself, etc) or a Star Wars-like laser battle between the US Marines and Drax's forces floating into space. Far from hiding the fact Moonraker was a tribute to the sci-fi genre in many ways, the classic tune of Close Encounters of The Third Kind is heard as a passcode to enter Drax's laboratory.

After Moonraker, John Glen took over the director's chair and the rest of the Moore films and the two Timothy Dalton adventures had more doseage of thrills and violence. The Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig films have sometimes recovered the grandilocuence of the Gilbert style, but the audience was always remembered not everything in Bond's life were tuxedos, girls and Martinis and that being him was rather tough. Those were other times and other Bonds, and the prospect of a successful hero was far more welcome than today were audiences want to empathise with the protagonist instead of envying him.

Nonetheless, Lewis Gilbert was responsible to make Bond GREAT in every sense. In his films, he didn't save England. He saved the world. And stopped being a British icon to become a worldwide icon.

This is your second life, Lewis. Thanks for the memories.
Rest in peace.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dynamite Entertainment Presents 'M'

Every intelligence agency is run by a spymaster who's qualified to last in the business long enough to know how things are tackled, strategized, delivered and organized in full form without any leak of a whole, preferably, to be compromised for the benefit of the opponents. SHIELD has Nick Fury, The Circus has George Smiley, and the most recognizable of them all, Her Majesty's Secret Service has 'M'. A codename for the head of the British Intelligence (or MI-6 in the later films) in the James Bond universe, given to various people over the years, with Ian Fleming's original incarnation remaining Vice-Admiral Sir Miles Messervy.
Comic books publisher, Dynamite Entertainment, has been running the Bond saga in the department since November 2015, with many entries poured under their belt as well as spin-offs centering on characters other than James Bond himself. Felix Leiter had his six-issue miniseries, last year, Moneypenny had her one-shot, and now M gets to have his. Quite a satisfying one, at that, delivered by creators Declan Shalvey and P.J. Holden.

M begins with the debriefing of a rather disastrous mission conducted by one smug and reckless Agent 005 who caused mayhem in Belfast by blowing up an entire building and causing the deaths of innocent civilians while, in a manner, succeeding in accomplishing his objective by bringing an unnamed Duchess to safety. Of course, it's always assumed that some operatives join the world of espionage on for their own thrill of the chase without having respect nor care for anybody else other than glorification of their own. Those smug agents always end up dead in fiction, paving the way in for a specific protagonist to takeover and right the wrong of their predecessors in the shoes. 005 is the sort of agent who has a target on his back, but has not been heard of, since M knocked him off his chair and kicked him out of his office.

Shortly after the debriefing, M receives a palette of a message only he himself recognizes - a piece of ammunition. Without losing any moment, he decides to take a leave and head to Belfast where it was revealed he had been awfully familiar with the region as well as carrying memories that haunt him to every end. Memories that date back to the Troubles, which incidentally, the film franchise's current counterpart, Lieutenant-Colonel Gareth Mallory, also had spent sometime and had experience of the dreadful period. Unarmed in a region where problem could easily bring harm to one's life, M barges in directly to a pub where he meets an old acquaintance. An acquaintance from his past with a bundle of unpleasant encounters he has had with, which dates back to his days in Belfast during the Troubles.

Samuel "Sammy" Wells is the man sought for, an elderly man by now, who used to be young Miles' commanding officer in Belfast back in the day, now retired, who has a leverage on M that is punishable by crime if revealed. Unless M delivers him a list of legally pardoned IRA members - pardoned due to the Good Friday Agreement - Sammy will expose his secret to the public which will be putting the head of the British Intelligence in a pickle he could hardly get out of: A murder. A murder he did not mean to commit but was tricked to pulling the trigger on a presumed IRA informant who was meant to be shot with a rubber bullet as opposed to a lethal cartridge.

Without throwing too much spoilers into the open, it's best to resort to describing the one-shot comic rather than narrating it. M is very much a decent spy thriller that does not involve nor even feature the character of James Bond, anywhere. Starring in a title of his own, M proves that he is a very worth spymaster who can think on his feet and outsmart the opponent using the skills of a master strategist he acquired over the years, isn't afraid to apply his use of variable types of combat on his enemies, and holds on his own rather well without the need of any agent or a bodyguard in his disposal, which is why it makes the character worthy of the spin-off he was given.

David Harewood
This one-shot comic book, M, is a welcome addition to the Dynamite-published Bond comics, narrating a story set in the universe 007 moves around, yet it isn't a pastiche of an adventure that would copy a James Bond thriller. It's nothing groundbreaking, to be honest, but it's definitely not an average entry in the franchise, either. The reader would definitely feel the vigorous character with poise that M is, which would beg the question whether there'd be any feature-length spin-offs planned for the character with proper execution.

With all the constant talk of the 'Bondverse', a common ground for separate films that share, a "universe" originally conceived by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, striking to utmost popularity that every film industry tried to copy ever since. There's been a talk - though unconfirmed - that Eon Productions might initiate a 'Bondverse', which is, frankly speaking, unlikely, given the way they operate. But, if they ever do, I'd like to see M get his one-off film where he goes to solve a problem no one ever could. Either with Ralph Fiennes in the role of Gareth Mallory, or Dynamite's incarnation of Miles Messervy/M come to life, preferably played by David Harewood, who's the most suited actor for the job, both acting and looks-wise as well as the mannerisms. See Spooks: The Greater Good and The Night Manager for his brilliant performances, albeit as a supporting character in both.

M is supposed to be collected in a series of one-shots entitled James Bond Case Files Vol. 1, which also includes Moneypenny as well as titles starring Bond: Service and Solstice, set to come out on 17th of July 2018, later this year.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A reappraisal of 'The Quiller Memorandum' (1966)

George Seagal stars in The Quiller Memorandum as Quiller, experiencing danger in Berlin. 

What do they want of Quiller? What does Quiller want of them?

In the midst of the spy boom of 1966 -the only year where a James Bond film wasn't released since the EON Production series had begun- came the adaptation of Adam Hall's thriller The Berlin Memorandum to the big screen. American actor George Seagal starred this production opposite an international cast that included Alec Guinness, Senta Berger and Max Von Sydow, directed by Michael Anderson and with the unmistakable music of John Barry.

The Quiller Memorandum offers a less glamorous approach to the world of espionage than the James Bond films and is much closer to the Harry Palmer movies, but with less humor. The story focuses on a series of British agents being killed in Berlin while investigating Phoenix, a neo-nazi group in the region. Pol, the head of the British intelligence, sends an operative only known as Quiller to continue with these investigations.

Trusting no-one, Quiller poses as a journalist preparing an article on neo-nazi organizations linked to the arrest of a teacher with nazi ties. Inquiring about "a man named Jones" (the name of one of the dead agents), Quiller intentionally alerts his enemies to know more of them and expects to be taken to their leader. At the same time, he engages into a romance with Inge, the young woman who replaced the arrested teacher. Not much later, Quiller will be captured and taken to Oktober, leader of Pheonix, who constantly subjects him to heavy drugs in order to make him reveal where his base is. The experiment fails, but the agent is subject to an ultimatum: if he doesn't reveal the position of his control, Oktober will eliminate Inge who has also been captured by the organization.

While it may be a low-scaled production, The Quiller Memorandum has its very attractive points. First of all, the John Barry's music bringing thrills to every situation -there are very little fights and shootouts, but many chases- and romance with his "Wednesday's Child" song, used troughout the film as a romantic instrumental and with Matt Monro's vocal version making a "radio cameo" as Quiller enters an cheap-looking hotel in Berlin (in a From Russia With Love fashion). The music is what gives identity to the film and it's different to what Barry did for Palmer or Bond, with more hypnotic tunes and less percussion.

Then comes the protagonist, a very good performance of George Seagal. Unlike Bond's sartorial taste, Quiller uses the same clothes over and over in the film: a single breasted grey suit with a crimson tie, changing only to a very similar brown suit for the very last scene. Quiller refuses to use weapons, since he thinks it would be easier to be captured if he is spotted carrying one. Another good performance is given by the charismatic Max Von Sydow, whose Oktober is filled of charm and menace and -without recurring to violence to much- he can put our hero in a tight spot. Alec Guinnes makes a welcome performance as the stone-faced leader of the British intelligence, who appears rather cold towards the dangers Quiller has to face, and Senta Berger provides the beauty and fragility needed to make the protagonist fall for her.

In the end, The Quiller Memorandum is an enjoyable spy movie with not much action scenes but filled of suspenseful moments that succeeds in engaging the hard spy thrillers afficionados, where a hero can chase or evade his enemies with wits and bare hands.

Nicolás Suszczyk

Friday, February 9, 2018

Nightfire: A Fan Novelization

Based on the ‘James Bond’ character created by
Ian Fleming

Based on a screenplay by
Danny Bilson & Paul De Meo

From a video game by
Electronic Arts


Novelization by
Richard Clemens


Chapter I: Flare for a New Year:

The scent and smoke of the festive fireworks were convivial at five to midnight on New Year’s Eve in the Parisian streets, the excitement beaming out of the reactive impulses conducted by the crowd as they watch the fulminations up ahead in the sky on the incoming celebration of the new year as they wave their farewell to the old. But, for a certain number of people, the pretense of these rejoices over nothing productive mattered the least, as some have been concerned with different compartments to pull and seek into.

Felix Leiter was piloting a Bell Model 412EPI helicopter across the Eiffel Tower as his eyes wander on the streets, searching into the target he was briefed to supervise the protection of. In the back, his fellow CIA colleague, Jack Wade had a green-plated with a blend of oil colour Accuracy International AWM sniper rifle trained in his arms, one hand holding the grip of the artillery, and the other elevating to place his finger against his earpiece, radioing in to the contact on the other side of communication just to check if there is a response. “White knight, do you read me? White knight!” He called, “Report. How much longer? Over.” Wade cursed like he had been given a rotten apple to bite, swiping off the unpleasantry by turning to Leiter, whose recent bionic arm substituted quite well for the lost limb as opposed to the mere prosthetic object he had to wear, guiding the chopper with no difficulties whatsoever.

“Any visuals on the woman?” Wade asked.
“None yet!” Leiter replied, his eyes ahead of the windshield.
“Sounds like I’m gonna marry for the fourth time before this Frenchie turns up!”
“Remind me to sculpt that on your gravestone!” Leiter added, leading the both of them to laugh.

Their interaction, however, was cut short when a white striped red Shelby Cobra bursts into the traffic, alerting everyone on the road, driven by a brunette in a fashionable tight leather catsuit, sprinting the vehicle like her life depended on it. That was rather true. Three black Alfa Romeo automobiles joined the pursuit, with a goon armed with a sub-machinegun leaning across the backseat window opening a nonchalant blind fire at the woman with the purpose of putting her down.

“There she is!” Wade screamed, immediately cocking the bolt of his sniper rifle, aiming for the tires of the Alfa Romeo on the front. “Keep it steady, Felix!” He demanded, fixating his eye through the telescopic sight, the crosshairs deviating onto the front tire. Wade took a deep breath, relying on his instincts, and right at the time he knew he had the balance in his hands, his index finger pulled the trigger to his side, sending the .50 calibre bullet speeding towards its target, defying the notoriety of the wind to derail its path, the bullet poked through the synthetic rubber that surrounded the rims of the wheel, creating an instant deflation, leading the vehicle with all its weight lose control and diverge from its normal rule, the driver trying to control the steering wheel and holding down the pedal of the brakes repeatedly, skid marks drawn all over the road over the panic the people within trying to reduce in a matter of brief two seconds, until the car itself flips over, rolling vigorously upon the ground, its shape destructive as ever, Lord knows whatever happened to the mercenaries inside, who possibly have embraced their demise.

“One down! Two to go!” Wade cried to inform of the scene, his right hand immediately rising from the grip to eject the empty cartridge from the rifle with a bolt action and assign the next in the line into the barrel, veering the crosshairs to the next target, hopefully as easy as the one before it.

“Any word from him, Jack?!” Leiter shouted loud enough to make his companion hear him through the heavy sound of the engine mainly filtering via the rotor blades to keep the helicopter in the air. “None!” Wade gave him the reply, with a thought in his mind placing a reconsideration of taking the matter in his own hands as the woman driver in the Shelby Cobra was being gained on, the tail lights catching bullets fired from the barrels of many goons in the remaining two Alfa Romeos.

Where the devil was he?

The woman in the red Shelby Cobra was a DGSE operative - or more commonly known as French Intelligence agent - named Dominique Paradis, one of their best, who had recently uncovered a domestic threat overseeing a terrorist plot to occur in Paris on the New Year’s Eve. She was already onto them, but her cover was blown, hence she resorted to NATO to send proper reinforcement back-up in order to prevent a nuclear bomb from going off at the Eiffel Tower, thus killing millions and turning the majority of France into another Chernobyl. Dominique was more concerned about pursuing the bomber and stopping him than she was for her life, weighing on the gas pedal to boost the speed of her car as her eyes intensely watched ahead of the windshield, ignoring the stripes on the road as they go by like a waving speed of light. Her chances, however, were experiencing reduction when three heavily armoured Humvee SUVs joined the chase, on top of them a minigun attached for each.

“God damn it, Jack! This is turning into a war zone, how far is our man?” Leiter inquired with a terrified throttle playing out in his voice as he watches the SUVs in horror opening fire on Dominique’s vehicle who was merely dodging them.

“How the hell would I know?” Wade aggressively replied, right before shooting the tire blown at the second car behind Dominique, creating a similar effect to the one car he distorted earlier. “At times like this, I wish I was twenty years younger and ten times more physically agile in shape!” He added. Though it bought the French agent a little time, there were three behemoth of vehicles and a gullible minion - that being the third and last Alfa Romeo - targeting the woman. Of course, the Alfa Romeo was faster than the SUVs, hence it was the first to gain on the Shelby Cobra, and viciously slammed its robust side against the latter, putting Dominique’s balance behind the wheel into jeopardy. But, she did not hesitate to draw an immediate aim at the gas tank with her .50 AE caliber Desert Eagle she picked up from the leather-bound passenger seat, and pulled the trigger the moment her other hand steered the wheel to guide the car away from the assailant’s vehicle. And the explosion occurred in a flashy manner one would’ve thought the festivity of the New Year’s welcoming got out of hand.

“That’s one capable woman!” Leiter remarked with a smirk on his face, but that expression was long gone when his eyes witnessed the appearance of a military Bell AH-1 SuperCobra helicopter rivaling his own, its modified Missile Approaching Warning system informing him of his entity alongside his rotorcraft targeted in the crosshairs of an enemy incoming. “Wade, brace yourself!” he shouted directly to his colleague who was fixated on the road through the telescopic sight of his sniper rifle, lifting his eyes to look at Leiter questionably as to what he meant. Spotting the rival chopper with heavy artillery attached to it in horror, Wade held on to a strap for safety as the both of them were demonstrated with a flash in their eyes, a wind approaching them slowly, and making its speed feel like robust raindrops attacking their helicopter. Damn those heavy bullets. Leiter rotated the helicopter as much as he could to avoid being shot at, which in the process led to Wade’s sniper rifle fall out of the helicopter.

“White knight, I repeat! White knight! Where the hell are you?! We’re taking fire! Over!” He shouted through his earpiece, tackling onto the straps as tightly as possible in order not to fall as Leiter was shaking the helicopter from left to right.

“White knight to White rook,” a deep voice spoke from the other end of the earpiece to Wade, surprising him after the radio silence for a long while, “I’ll be in position in three... two... one...”

In the heat of the moment, just as hope was starting to fade away, right amidst the pursuit, an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish steered with ninety degrees angle from a crossroad, finding itself on the tail of the three Humvee SUVs, releasing a hellfire rocket from its grill, blowing up the nearest of the land vehicle up to ascension, sending its contained members to possibly the afterlife. It appears the driver had more tricks up in the sleeve reserved for the assailants as he intensely watches ahead of the windshield, his finger pressuring against a button on a custom-placed control panel with ‘Armour’ labeled on it, thus activating the potent shape of the front bumpers in its effective role. “And that’s one mishandled grill up in the smokes.” He spoke through his earpiece with a smug hint in his voice as well as jocular, referring to the Humvee he extinguished. Or Vanquished.

Dressed in the finest of the tailored Italian suits, a black two-buttoned Brioni Roma with a white shirt from Turnbull & Asser, as well as a blue tie and a white triangular pocket square, British Intelligence agent, James Bond - also known by his codenumber: 007 - raced through the traffic hurriedly, keeping his presence unquestionably intact in the pursuit, as well as vehemently in control of his re-issued Aston Martin from the Icarus mission, modified enough to meet the standards of a domestic threat in civilian circles. The matter at hand considerably required his full attention as two objectives have been placed under his orders:
  • Eliminate all threat regarding the safety of Dominique Paradis.
  • Neutralize and stop the nuclear bomb from going off.
Having been spotted by the opposition, Bond witnessed a mercenary lean out of the window of the Humvee and open fire at his car. Much to the latter dismay, Bond’s Aston was fully bulletproof, enough to resist a .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun round. Weighing his foot on the gas pedal, Bond gained on the SUV, and slammed against it from the back, using his the aid of his armoured bumper. The larger car was going out of balance, shaking from side to another as its driver apparently had trouble controlling the steering wheel. It advanced ten feet away nearby the fence that oversaw the river of La Seine. ‘That makes it convenient’ Bond thought to himself without blinking as he hit on the gas once more, speeding on account, the seatbelt fastened around him against an up and coming counter-measure, he saw the opportunity coming arise, he rammed against the very corner of the Humvee, agitating it enough with the one strike by the front bumper of his to let the larger vehicle roll over and thread hard through the metallic fence, landing into the water, Lord knows if the passengers in it were alive by now, despite the car remaining on the surface.

“Well, that certainly should keep them afloat for a spell.” Bond remarked smugly, watching the vehicle raft up by the narrow of his eyes before turning his attention straight ahead.

Agent 007’s halfway admiration of the turnouts he had caused was cut short once he witnessed bullets raining from above on the concrete ground, penetrating through the cement and stabilizing themselves into their respective holes, with the shots from a turret coming his way had a strict intention of taking him out. The same party that almost had a target locked onto Leiter and Wade’s helicopter. It appears Bond had managed to divert their attention from his fellow agents assigned to likewise prevent the nuclear chaos, racing against time while guns ablaze, he did his best not to allow any of the incoming strikes of the allegorical scythe into his tires when they were the only unprotected portions of the vehicle by armour. Just as with the motion slowed down, the first thing that crossed Bond’s mind in the heat of the moment was to ask Boothroyd of the Q-Branch to eradicate that little problem with the next modification of the Aston. That is if he does survive the pickle he was in at the very moment.

Elongating his finger to decide which button to push while driving at a speed of 178 mph, the first to pop up in his undivided attention was the one labeled with ‘Stinger’. Without giving further thoughts, Bond pushed his fingertip against it, which unveiled the stinger missiles behind the radiator pits on the front bumper and a transparent screen pointing at potential targets on the windshield, operable to select by touching either of the crosshairs placed on a computed heat signature. Cutting edge as Q would’ve put it. Bond pressed the one covering the Bell AH-1 SuperCobra, under which a warning message appeared saying ‘incoming missile’. Having to act fast, Bond quickly confirmed the target by commanding the stinger button once more, a rocket was fired from his part, after which he immediately had to resort to the Shotgun button, resulting in two namely shotguns with automatic target-seeking injunction surfacing from underneath the hood air vents of the car, shooting the hostile missile ten feet away, creating a blast of an explosion in the sky at least from Bond’s point of view, which didn’t take to have a further detonation afar that was the helicopter assaulting him and previously his CIA colleagues. The SuperCobra chopper eventually sunk into its fate and descended wildly at heavy speed, yet luckily into the river, generating a rather large splash upon its nosedive.

“How the mighty have fallen,” Bond declared, smirking in the face of the blaze in relief. A blaze of glory for him, especially when he had to look death in the face and dodged the grim reaper’s scythe by the skin of his teeth.

“I’d usually applaud you for such witty remarks, James, but there’s a more important matter at hand we’ve yet to take care of.” Leiter’s voice was heard from Bond’s earpiece. “Speaking of which...” His speech was interrupted by an abrupt yet imminent turnout.

A bullet was directed towards the front tire of Dominique’s Shelby Cobra, the sound of its blowout echoed at a range of at least fifty feet square, which contained both Bond in the chase from behind, following an aggressive Humvee that fired the said bullet, and a still operable helicopter by Felix Leiter from above. Dominique, whose mind was almost on concentration over chasing a stolen military truck afar containing the nuclear bomb, expressed a voiceless baffle at her sports car getting out of control and leaning its weight aside. She cursed in French upon realization, and tried her best to keep up despite the SUV racing close to hit her by the bumper in the back. Spotting the danger incoming from the rear view mirror, Dominique shook the car from a side to another in attempt to confuse her aspiring perpetrators.

“Wade,” Bond communicated through the earpiece, “Could you take out the tires of that Humvee? Or aim for the gas tank if possible?”

“I would, you know?” Wade replied, “Only that I don’t have the sniper rifle with me.”
“What on earth are you on about?” Bond asked.
“It slipped off my hands while we were being attacked.”

Leiter briefly turned his attention aside, intended for Wade at the backseat, and offered his jest, “Isn’t this helicopter a property of the Swiss?” He inquired, “I’d figure this being a Swiss military issue, they’d have something of a useful artillery under your seat, Jack. Perhaps something of a SIG 550 series?”

Without losing a moment, Wade pressured his toes against the concrete ground of the chopper and held on to a grab strap for his safety and turn around and flip the slip seat open in search for the said weapon. Diving his hands beneath, he carried up what appeared to be a locked rifle’s case, brought the seat back to its former post and situated himself on it, leaning across the ground where he lent the case upon to unpin its teeth and open it up. “I’m starting to suspect you’re Santa Claus, Felix!” He chuckled, picking up the rifle parts to assemble it as fast as he could. It was a SIG 552 with a telescopic sight nonetheless. “I sure am keepin' this baby!” Wade added.

“Don’t get any ideas, Wade.” Leiter responded. “When we get back, I’ll buy you one myself. It’s enough paperwork to fill up for the loss of that damn sniper rifle. We wouldn’t want another bureaucrat breathing down our necks for two.”

“Won’t you just let a man have fun?” Wade remarked, having finished the assembly process, he loaded the rifle with ammunition, cocked the bolt and aimed down at the SUV heading aggressively towards the Shelby Cobra controlled by the French agent.

“You, chaps, finished with your two-man show, yet?” Bond spoke through the communication link, overhearing the conversation between his CIA colleagues. “Wade, fire at the Humvee as effectively as you can.”

“You got it, Jimbo!” Wade replied with enthusiasm, aiming carefully at the SUV, its telescopic sight isn’t as advanced as the sniper rifle he had which was harder to operate with, relied on his instincts with patience and squeezed the trigger with burst fire.

The bullets have hit the robust body of the targeted vehicle, but the results so far were pointless, since it was not ordinarily but heavily armoured. Ignoring the gunshots, the driver of the Humvee brought the car to the side of the Shelby Cobra, and a passenger door on the back of the SUV was opened, with a mercenary climbing out carefully and jumped up on Dominique’s car, who was alerted by the sound of the thumping on the leather seat in the back and drew her Desert Eagle to shoot at the assailant. But the latter kicked against the pistol with his army boot, disarming Dominique, and entangled the back of his elbow around her neck in a manner of a headlock, trying to strangle her.

Dominique being pre-occupied with controlling a car with a blown tire on the front, struggled against the threat, groaning as she seemed to run out of air. With one hand on the steering wheel, and other trying to detach the arm around her neck, she found the convenience to strike the mercenary in the nose with the back of her head, elongating her free arm to bring his head forward, and headbutted him, took an immediate hold of his head in her palm and slammed it against the glove compartment repeatedly, and kicked him with her high heel in the face off the car, sending him to a permanent set of broken bones injury, or if lucky, death as he stumbled on the road with repetitive roll.

“Resourceful girl.” Bond expressed himself vocally, smirking in the face of attraction he was already developing of her from afar as he watched her work and send a goon to his death, while he himself was gaining on the chase, dodging as much as terrified traffic as he could.

Much to Dominique’s surprise, however, she felt a rather large hand winding up around her head, having very little time to veer left to see it came from himself a large man standing by the side step of the SUV attacking her, and before she could do anything, all she witnessed in a nanosecond was a strike coming on to her face by a single punch, knocking her unconscious, the giant henchman grabbed her by the neck as her car started going sideways, and effortlessly picked her up and transported her inside the Humvee, throwing her in the back next to another underling of a mercenary and ordered him to tie her up.

“Why not just kill her?” The mercenary asked.

“The boss needs her alive!” The henchman replied with an aggressive and no-nonsense tone.

The Shelby Cobra with its flat tire, eventually romped up by the riverside, rolled over and collapsed into the water, creating an explosion from underneath. What a waste of a beautiful machinery, one would’ve thought.

Expressing a dissatisfaction with the turnout, Bond shelved up the roof of his Aston Martin with a computed command by the control panel, and directed a request through the earpiece, “Wade, get a rappelling rope ready!”

Bond activated the ‘Auto-Pilot’ mode at the command compartment, the Aston Martin already nearing the Humvee, 007 found himself climbing up the roof of the car, he measured up the distance between the bumper of the enemy vehicle and the hood of his own. It would’ve been a lot easier if he was wearing tactical shoes rather than formal ones due to the slippery skin of his car body. It all happened out of a sudden. Once the moment was right, and Bond having a short window of time, he acted fast and on instinct, jumping at the back of the Humvee, which thankfully had long enough bumper to stand on while his hands hung on stable handles he could hold on to, and climbed towards the rear left passenger door where the underling of a mercenary was sitting by. Pulling it open with aggression, Bond swung a punch against the mercenary’s face, grabbed him by the collar and threw him out onto the road, leaping inside the SUV for Dominique’s rescue.

The giant henchman sensed his presence in the heat of the moment, in a matter of a blink or two, rushing to the backseat section of the vehicle and landing a fist onto Bond’s gut, whereas half-unconscious Dominique was swinging against the glass window of her side of the door, agitated from her current state of mind, while the man had received an elbow swipe right in the cheek, sending him backwards at the chair and briefly collapsing upon the woman. “Sorry about that!” Bond apologized nicely while wrestling with a threat, trying to regroup, he found a large hand heavily holding the back of his collar and pulling him away, the giant henchman slammed him against the console center of the car, and punched him twice in the face, blurring his vision due to ominous pain gasping through the nerves and weakening the senses of his brain. Bond, relying on his remaining other sensory faculties, shielded his face with his elbows, defending himself against the almost unbeatable assailant, with his instincts kicking in, he held one wrist upon the swung and missed punch, and elevated himself fast enough to headbutt the henchman in the nose as hard as it could with his forehead, struck him twice back with his fists and slammed his head against the door, while Dominique, already conscious, jumped from the back and attached her flexicuffs against the henchman’s throat, trying to strangle him. The driver, on alert, pulled a SIG P226 off his holster for defense, which Dominique was observant enough to kick his arm away from Bond, thus the firearm releasing a gunshot and wounding the giant henchman in the leg who let out a brief groan over it, repeatedly having sharp inhalations, he held Dominique’s hands, pulled them away from his throat in effort, bringing them to a unison, he unfastened them at once and broke the flexicuffs, freeing both himself off her and her hands in the process, gasping for air.

With all happening fast in so little time, all the four in the car had a short time to act. Bond grabbed the driver’s armed wrist and slammed the pistol against his nose, resulting in a blooded face and half an out-of-control guided vehicle. He took the firearm over, holding it by the flange, and slapped the henchman once on the facial bones next to his cheek by the grip of the pistol, and once over the back of his head with a wrath, reaching for the seatbelt next to Dominique, he wrapped it around his neck and squeezed it, locking its clasp against its buckle, and leaving the victim of it struggle in suffocation.

A glimmer of hope illuminated Bond’s eyes when he saw the light on the helicopter occupied by the CIA operatives signaling in the air, flying closer to the Humvee, with the rope already thrown hanging for both 007 and the French agent to grab onto as they escape. Turning to Dominique, Bond guided her to jump ship, just as the rope itself was closing in to her side of the door. She pulled the handle to unpin the hold of the lock between the car as a whole and its door, pushing the obstacle between her and the road open and felt the wind blow from the outside world right into her face, almost penetrating the vision of her eyes she did not intend to go blind. Pushing her heel against the ground, Dominique made her leap of faith with a chance, aiming her clutches into grappling right onto the rope sent from above and swung from left to right as the speed of the pursuit led her into the measurement.

‘Good girl!’ Bond thought to himself regarding her successful stunt and decidedly followed suit. Before he could proceed, however, he felt a force from behind pulling him back through the lapel of his suit jacket, and much to his horror, he found out the henchman had already broken loose, holding him against the opposite door and blocking his way out. It was as if 007 had another experience of witnessing a glimpse of doom when the aspiring perpetrator of his had his eyes locked on him with rage, anger and ferocity, ready to attack his prey. A shout was heard on the latter’s part, all these taking place on such short notice, the feel of it slowed down in motion for the secret agent, who saw a sturdy fist racing towards his face. Seeking time and convenience while thinking on his feet, he had it pinned down like all the pieces of the puzzle falling into their right places when it required of him to dodge the swing by strafing aside, the henchman tumbled against the vacated region of the seat where Bond was held at, the latter of whom struck his elbow against the back of the behemoth of a man’s neck, delaying the outcome of the madman’s provocation. With limited options around, he resorted to employ the seatbelts for his advantage and strapped it heavily against the wrist of his assailant, acting fast, the same was repeated to embrace the neck, blocking the windpipe, Bond pulled the seatbelt to his side, and the madman stumbled forward with the heave, Bond kicked the back of his head down to the ground with his shoe, finding the opportunity to cuff the henchman’s free wrist and clasp the seatbelt into the buckle behind him. That was halfway to the relief. The driver, who had recovered and steered his attention off the road, pulled his gun on Bond with the intention of shooting him dead. Bond threw himself forward, away from the gunbarrel, grabbed the driver’s wrist and twisted it, releasing the magazine off the pistol, and squeezing the trigger blindly onto the roof, sending the remaining cartridge free. He punched the man in the face as hard as it could have been achieved, indubitably breaking his cheekbone, whose head clashed against the steering wheel, the sound of the thumping heard louder than the screaming engine of the Humvee. The driver being incapacitated, the moment gave Bond enough time to find his way to the door, ignoring the giant henchman who was struggling in the straps holding him back, he counted on his instincts, tracked the rope carefully that still remained close, and jumped right on time, colliding to Dominique in parallel, his hands right above hers entangled to the rope. An explosion was heard from behind, which Bond peeked at with the corner of his eyes, learning the SUV had crashed into a construction site and blew up.

“We got ‘em!” Wade announced happily, only to be interrupted in his ear by a hollering Bond. A courtesy extended to Felix Leiter himself, as well.

“Felix!” Bond called out, “Follow the Aston on the road!”

Getting the gist of it, Leiter piloted the helicopter, looking for Bond’s Aston Martin driven somewhere on the streets of Paris. Meanwhile, with both the French and the British agents hanging by the rope, they exchanged eye contacts, and Dominique’s was an unwelcoming one. “Who the hell are you?” She asked aggressively, her French accent ever as present as her eyes blinking due to the heavy wind. “I work for the British government!” Bond replied reassuringly, his eyes as narrow as hers.

“James, we’re almost there!” Leiter communicated as he approached the vehicle in demand, whilst Bond looking down to see the end of the rope swinging about, and the reflection of the street lights surfacing on the layer of his Oxford shoes, developing visual of the subject racing on the road, its rooftop still open, the Aston Martin significantly seemed like it was calling for him, ready to catch him when he falls. ‘Steady,’ Bond wished for the chopper to be piloted rightfully so he’ll extract himself and a passenger to the vantage point it needed. He lifted his eyes up to look at Dominique and spoke, “Hang on to me!” he told her. Dominique knew what was in the play and decided not to ask any questions, trusting what appeared to be her circumstantial guardian angel. Embracing Bond tightly with her arms around his waist, she looked at him and awaited his course of action. With the insurance that Wade was watching from above as an oversight ready to aid, Bond measured the potential fall and ensure the timing and gravitation was right, he deployed the buckle of the rope by pushing the red button amidst the sophisticatedly formed group of pliers and fell along with Dominique where he aimed at, feeling the slight octane while they floated in a split second in the air.

The next thing they knew, they felt the rather comfortable covers of the seat on support to their backs, the instant filling them with slight bit of a confused consequence as they landed upon the seats into the car from above, Bond was already regrouped, with a brief smirk making appearance on the features of his face as he stared at Dominique who was right upon his lap, arrived on top of him as they descended down to the Aston Martin with a leap of faith. “I wouldn't mind the view, Miss Paradis, but my concentration is better wielded on the danger afoot.” Bond spoke jokingly, only to feel a rather aggressive push of palms on his shoulders, resulting in from Dominique's reaction to the Englishman's remark in the heat of the moment. She rotated herself to the left side of the vehicle where the passenger's seat was located and placed herself firmly as she buckled her seatbelt. “At least, I might have the chance to thank you later for the catch-up...” She exasperated, “If we hurry and catch the damn nuclear bomb on that truck ahead.”

“The thought had flashed across my mind.” Bond replied, pushing his finger down upon the button to replace the roof to its original post with its convertibility, assigning the 'Auto-Pilot' off to regain manual control of his car. “At least we agree on something!” Dominique reported with punctuality, before narrowing her eyes in a questioning manner, turned her gaze to the man in her company and inquired, “Who are you, again?”

“The name's Bond.” The secret agent responded, adjusting his tie and taking a hold of the gear lever, ready to boost the Aston Martin forward, “James Bond.”


To be continued in "Chapter II: An Agent In Need"...

Thursday, February 8, 2018

James Bond returns in 'Forever and a Day' by Anthony Horowitz

Ian Fleming Publications has unveiled the title for the upcoming James Bond novel, the second penned by British author Anthony Horowitz after the success of 2015's Trigger Mortis, which placed Bond after the events of Goldfinger in 1957. Forever and a Day will be based on unpublished material by Ian Fleming just like its predecessor and the story will feature James Bond before the events of Casino Royale, the novel that initiated the saga in 1953.

When the body of agent 007 is found floating in the waters of Marseille killed by a mysterious enemy, M thinks of a new recruit to fill the shoes of the deceased 007: Bond, James Bond. 

While the (rebooted) past of James Bond and the earning of his 00 number has been described in the 2006 adaptation of Casino Royale, it looks like Forever and a Day will explore even more the past of the man before he became the new 007. As described by Ian Fleming, Bond earned his licence to kill by shooting a Japanese enemy at Rockefeller Centre and stabbing a Norwegian who was working for the opposition. It will be interesting to see how this will fit in this new novel and probably described in more detail. At the same time, the novel will see Bond fighting the underworld of the French Riviera.
In both Casino Royale and The Authorized Biography of 007 by John Pearson, it is mentioned that Bond had a showdown against a group of shadowy Rumanians at a baccarat table before he faced Le Chiffre in that memorable game that appears in the initial 007 novel. This is another aspect we're most likely to read in this new novel.

Forever and a Day will be published on the UK by Johnatan Cape on May 31, 2018, just days after what would have been Ian Fleming's 110th birthday. The book can be preordered at Amazon UK or Bookdepository with free shipping abroad.