Bond: Ejector seat, your joking?
Q: I never joke about my work 007!
Where would 007 be without Q? “If it hadn’t been for Q Branch, you’d have been dead long ago” quoted Q in License To Kill. Q frequently refers to Bond as “007”, rather than by his name. Despite the great annoyance Bond causes Q on many occasions, there is always a sense that while they may not be friends, they certainly get on well and have great respect for one another.
Q Branch was curiously absent from the rebooted franchise and many fans were upset at the exclusion. In fact there were two gadgets that was given to Bond in the reboot, played by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, One being a mobile phone with a three dimensional GPS system to help him find the exclusive hotel and casino in Jamaica (now ubiquitously embeded in most smartphones today) and a rice size GPS locator embeded in Bond’s forearm. I will touch on the movie history and gadgets of the ever changing but irreplaceable Q and Q Branch.
Q (standing for Quartermaster), like M, is a job title rather than a name. He is the head of Q Branch (or later Q Division), the fictional research and development division of the British Secret Service. The character actually appears only fleetingly in Ian Fleming’s novels, but comes into his own in the successful Bond film series.
Beginning with From Russia with Love, Desmond Llewelyn portrayed the character in every official film except Live and Let Die until his death in 1999. Famously, he tells the agent, “I never joke about my work, 007″ (a line referenced by his successor in Die Another Day). Q is often annoyed by Bond’s seemingly playful lack of respect for the equipment Q and his branch develop.
Bond – [handing Q his coat] “Do you think you can help me? Someone seems to have stuck a knife in my wallet.”
Q – “Oh, and missed you, did they? What a pity!
Desmond Llewelyn retired his role as Q after filming The World Is Not Enough. Sadly, he died two weeks after the film open in the U.S. and the UK in a car accident. Fittingly, in his last role he had the perfect parting line.
Q: “I’ve always tried to teach you two things: First, never let them see you bleed;”
Bond: “And the second?”
Q: “Always have an escape plan” — before he is lowered out of view.
Bond: “You’re cleverer than you look.” Q: “Still, better than looking cleverer than you are.” or “Ah yes, the legendary 007 wit, or at least half of it.”
In the first film, Dr. No, Boothroyd (Q) is played by Peter Burton in only one scene in which he replaces Bond’s .25 Beretta 418 pistol with Bond’s signature .32 Walther PPK handgun. The character later appeared in From Russia with Love played by Desmond Llewelyn, due to scheduling conflicts that kept Burton from reprising. He is referred to by M as “the armourer.”
Daniel Craig and the new director for the 23rd outing for James Bond, Mendez are interested in bringing back Q Branch and investigating the new Q history and beginnings as the new branch heavy. Also, now that we know who will be the two dark characters in the movie, what about the actor that will play Q? The buzz around the EON and Spyglass Production is that Anthony Hopkins may have been asked to play Q instead of playing the villain in the next movie. That will bring another dimension to the Q character but knowing Mendez excellent directing ability we may see some light hearted wit as well as some deeper insights into Q.
Gadgets can be a little tricky, remember in Casino Royale, Bond’s GPS phone was dated not to long after it debuted in the movie in 2006. The new Q Branch will have to think outside of the box, literally. In the latest novel by Jeffery Deaver, Carte Blanche, Bond uses a smartphone similar to an iPhone but with apps that allow James to eavesdrop on conversations and direct satellites to track moving vehicles. Q Branch quip that the phone should be called IQPhone since they created the special apps and features for it. using cloud base apps to monitor or to mask the identity of Bond should be the next step in gadgets since most of the hardware of old could be easily built today (even the invisible feature on Bond’s Jaguar is being tested as a similar stealth device for the US Army).