In a swish apartment overlooking London’s Docklands, two scriptwriters, Whale and Purview, sit down to discuss ideas for a new James Bond script.
Whale: Okay, the studio wants four exotic locations for this film.
Purview: Only four? They must be cutting back.
Whale: Nah, they’re thinking about global warming. They want a more responsible Bond who thinks about the impact air travel has on the environment.
Purview: Okey Dokey. Let’s have an early scene where ‘M’ tells Bond that MI6 has adopted a carbon neutral policy.
Whale: Yup. Let’s make this some kind of sexy eco-thriller.
Purview: I’m not sure we can. We did the environment with Quantum of Solace and that plot about controlling water supplies and calling the antagonist ‘Greene’ and having him run an ecological business as a front for his criminal activities. Let’s make this film about terrorism instead. That’s topical.
Whale: We did international terrorism in Casino Royale.
Purview: Then what’s it going to be about? We’ve got to keep it topical and relevant.
Whale: How about making it a combo eco-terrorist story. With nukes. Iranian nukes.
Purview: That’s a good idea. Let’s hang on to that. Let’s start with the four locations.
Whale: One hot, one cold, one pricey, one wild.
Purview: St. Petersburg. We should use St. Petersburg as the wintry location.
Whale: The Winter Palace at Winter. Shots of crisp white snow contrasted with lots of lavish opulence with lots of gold and jewels everywhere.
Purview: We cut from a scene with a Bond girl skating on the ice of a frozen river to her putting on her diamonds in the evening.
Whale: Ice and diamonds – I love it. Okay, St. Petersburg works for me. We can have a Russian oligarch as the baddie. Yeah – good. Now what about the hot location?
Purview: I don’t we should actually set it in Iran. It would be too sensitive to have Bond going there undercover. How about doing a segment in Jamaica?
Whale: Bond’s been to the Caribbean so often that the audience will expect him to end up speaking like a West Indian.
Purview: Western Samoa?
Whale: Nobody knows where that is.
Purview: Nobody knows why you’d build a swanky hotel in the middle of the Bolivian desert but that’s what we wrote into the last script. What about Rio de Janeiro?
Whale: Puh-lease. Pictures of girls in skimpy bikinis and guys juggling footballs. So corny.
Purview: Somewhere in the Middle East then.
Whale: Not a bad idea. Bond can be involved in a chase through a shopping mall in Dubai. He pushes past a lot of Arabs all dressed in white. The baddie’s henchman is dressed in white too, so Bond momentarily loses sight of him in the crowd… I’m liking this idea. Lots of opportunity for product placement, as he throws the henchman through the window of a Louis Vuitton shop. Plus they’ll pay top dollar for the boost to tourism. We can have a scene with Bond flying off the top of that fancy ‘sail’ hotel using a one-man helicopter pack on his back.
Purview: I like it. We’ve done rocket packs before, but not helicopter packs. As he helicopters down, Bond can set off some smoke flares, leaving a red, white and blue trail in the skies.
Whale: What about the glamour location?
Purview: New York. Perhaps we could stage a shootout in Grand Central Station. The crowd screaming, people leaping over ticket barriers and Bond having a fight on the roof of a subway train.
Whale: Nah. We’ve got to cut back. And Dubai can double as the pricey location as well as the hot one. We should do somewhere in the UK. You know, to fit with the ecologically responsible ‘staycation’ theme.
Purview: How about Bond spends a weekend youth hosteling in the Lake District? He could encounter a hiking troupe of Swedish beauties, and bed them all during a wet afternoon under canvas.
Whale: I’m thinking more along the lines of Blackpool. Bond slides down a cable from Blackpool Tower whilst chasing an assassin.
Whale: Blackpool. It can work. They’re making it more upmarket these days.
Purview: Perhaps. What if the assassin garrotes his victim from behind, just as they’re looping the loop on the rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach?
Whale: That’s a great idea. I love it.
Purview: We just the need the fourth location now. We should think about somewhere really different, somewhere nowhere like Bond’s been before.
Whale: The moon.
Purview: Too far.
Purview: Not far enough.
Whale: Outer Mongolia.
Purview: Too barren, just like Slough.
Purview: Too Australian. Then again, perhaps the nuke can be hidden under Uluru.
Purview: Uluru – Ayers Rock. They hide the nukes under Ayers Rock so the satellites cannot detect the radioactive signature, or something like that.
Whale: Brilliant. So far we’ve got a plot where Bond’s having a staycation in Blackpool, his old Navy buddy is murdered on the rollercoaster whilst Bond is in the queue for candyfloss, the murderer escapes but resurfaces in St. Petersburg, employed by some super-rich oligarch. His old buddy was entwined in the oligarch’s business interests in Dubai. Bond investigates, realizing it’s a cover operation involved in smuggling nukes out of Tehran. The nukes get hidden under Ayers Rock, where they will be auctioned to the representatives of a variety of rebel nations. And Bond has casual sex with a woman he picks up in Blackpool, shags a Russian beauty in the Winter Palace and then bonks her again in Australia, but only after he does the identical twin PAs to the chief auctioneer.
Purview: That’s the basic plot resolved. We need some more gadgets to add to the heli-pack.
Whale: What about an invisible car?
Purview: Ridiculous. Imagine how many accidents you would have driving an invisible car on the road. People would keep hitting you in the tail.
Whale: And I remember we had one already – in Die Another Day. Maybe we should give the bad guy a gadget. Like an electro suit. And Bond can kill him by pressing a big red self-destruct button placed right in the middle of the suit’s chest plate.
Purview: That was in Die Another Day too.
Whale: The bad guy should have a gun which fires only one bullet, because he’s that good.
Purview: And what if he’s being attacked by two people? He waits until they’re lined up, one behind the other? Anyhow, The Man With the Golden Gun had only one bullet in his gun.
Whale: Okay. How about the bad guy has a fetish for Bond and keeps a mannequin of him in his lair? Then Bond can take the dummy’s place and catch the baddie by surprise.
Purview: That was in The Man With The Golden Gun too. Roger Moore was so wooden it was hard to tell which one was the mannequin. We should think about having some kind of space weapon. They’re very sexy, in a sci-fi style.
Whale: No. Definitely not. You Only Live Twice. Diamonds are Forever. Moonraker. Goldeneye and Die Another Day. Space weapons have been done to death.
Purview: Let’s leave the gadgets for now. Gadgets are passÃ© anyway. We should talk about some set pieces.
Whale: Bond should invite himself to the nuke auction. He quickly drops the pretence as the baddies know who he is anyway. They’ll put him up for a couple of nights in the lavish guest facilities and the Bond’s oligarch antagonist allows him to sleep with his woman, before eventually deciding to kill him. Bond survives and blows the whole place up, leaving the Nukes safely buried underneath Ayers Rock.
Purview: Of course. That all goes without saying. We need Bond’s antagonist to have a sidekick with a special weapon or skill.
Whale: Killer hats.
Purview: Oddjob in Goldfinger.
Whale: Killer teeth.
Purview: Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me.
Whale: Killer thighs.
Purview: Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye.
Whale: Killer fishing rod.
Purview: Mayday in View to a Kill.
Whale: Killer moustache.
Purview: That would be new. How would it work?
Whale: A gay guy soaks his moustache in poison. It gives off fumes that would kill Bond if he kisses him.
Purview: I’m pretty sure that’s not been filmed before.
Whale: We need some good action scenes.
Purview: Bond is chasing the sidekick in Blackpool, but he escapes and makes a dramatic getaway.
Whale: By miniature jet plane.
Purview: Done before, in Octopussy.
Whale: By stealth boat.
Purview: That was in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Whale: By bobsled.
Purview: Check out On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Whale: By lunar rover.
Purview: See Diamonds are Forever.
Whale: Sliding downhill on a cello case.
Purview: That’s how Bond escapes in The Living Daylights.
Whale: Hot air balloon.
Purview: What kind of ridiculous getaway vehicle would a hot air balloon make? It slowly floats on the wind, there is no way to control its direction, is in plain view to everyone and can easily be followed by the cops who just need to wait until it comes back down to ground. It’s a silly idea. Plus it has been done already, in The World is Not Enough.
Whale: Phew. What’s left?
Purview: Bus. The sidekick jumps on the number 42 bus. Bond would give chase but his car is stuck in terrible congestion. That fits with the environmentally-conscious theme. M can then give her spiel about MI6 going carbon neutral when Bond returns to the office and debriefs.
Whale: After which, Q gives Bond a special folding bicycle to use on future missions.
Purview: Good idea, and its the extra gadget we were looking for.
Purview: I think we’re nearly there. We just need to write a few double entendres. Bond is as ‘hard’ as Ayers Rock. Bond is as ‘hard’ as Blackpool rock. That kind of thing.
Whale: Yeah, and we need a title. How about ‘Golden Day for the Kill’?
Purview: ‘Tomorrow’s the Day I Licence to Die’.
Whale: ‘Diamonds Never Die’.
Purview: ‘Dr. Thunderfinger’.
Whale: ‘A View to a Killing Licence, in Gold’.
Purview: ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Gold’.
Whale: ‘Her Majesty’s Secret Solace’.
Purview: ‘The Spy with a Love Licence from Russia’.
Whale: ‘Moonfingering the Octopussy’.
Purview: ‘Eye Spy Golden Die’.
Whale: ‘Die Today, Kill Tomorrow’.
Purview: ‘The Spy Who Kills in Gold Blood’.
Whale: ‘Live to Kill Another Day’.
Purview: ‘Licence to Live, Dying to Kill’.
Whale: ‘Never Say Die’.
Purview: That’s it. ‘Never Say Die’. That’s our title.
Whale: You know, sometimes I think we should try to be more original. But after twenty-two Bond films, what would be the point? ‘Never Say Die’ – we’ll make another killing at the box office…