Kitchen-sink espionage, Greek sci-fi tragedy, Ministry-of-Silly-Kills - what will it be for Eon’s most celebrated - and only - spy? Will Blofeld strangle him? Will Elon Musk take him on a trip to Mars? Will Moneypenny turn out to be M’s secretary? Your expectations, your bets, your nightmares: share them all here.
With the success of lighter, brighter superhero films, Eon will move on from emulating Nolan and return to more escapist fare. Told that his next target is not his friend, lover, mentor or brother, Bond will stammer, "But…But I can’t kill a total stranger!
Actually, he will refuse the assignment if it’s not a blood relative…
Not to worry. Since 1989, we have seen that nothing happens in the life of Britain, or indeed the world, that isn’t directly tied to James Bond’s personal life. Indeed the villain’s plot in Bond 25 will be to kill Bond as a way to end human history.
Or, conversely, MI6 could decide to eliminate Bond as a means to rid the world of all of its villains. If every villain is in some way related to Bond, eliminating Bond should get rid of the villains’ reasons for doing what they do.
The Bond films have very much become like the M:I films in this way and it’s about time Bond had to deal with a villain he had no personal connection to.
I wonder if it’s possible they find a way back to the kind of careless ease they had on display with CASINO ROYALE: a boldly moving thriller that didn’t at all concern itself too much with the personal drama - although it was of course there. Bond would have been after Le Chiffre and White even without any personal angle.
Yes, he’s been in love and lost the girl in-between. But in that last frame you didn’t have the feeling he’s not on top of his game again. Perhaps it would have been better to leave out that I’m-so-hurt part from QOS entirely, I doubt it would have been a worse film for it. And it might have prevented SPECTRE from going where it shouldn’t have. It would have been entirely enough if Dench-M had been after Blofeld. And we wouldn’t wonder now if Bond’s nanny Irma Bunt was responsible for giving him a nasty scare when he was 12…
Sure, it’s possible for them to go back to it, but the question is whether or not EON cares to. I don’t think that the direction of QUANTUM OF SOLACE was the problem. Having the darker, edgier second chapter isn’t all that uncommon, but where they made the mistake was jumping from rookie Bond to old, burned-out Bond in the next film and not addressing the new villainous organization.
The jump from essentially Fleming’s CASINO ROYALE to YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE was rather jarring and really boxed the franchise into a corner as far as where they could take it in terms of it all being a connected story.
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Except then we’d have the return of Brother Blofeld. No thanks.
And Craig’s already done the “avenge my true love’s death” routine with QoS.
I think regardless of where they go, step one is to recast the lead. Mendes gave this version of Bond too tidy an ending.
SPECTRE is about as close a remake of ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE that we’ll ever see, unfortunately. Madeleine is clearly a stand-in for Tracy (daughter of a criminal boss that Bond falls in love with, seemingly moreso than the others), with the only difference being that she survives the film. If they were to continue that storyline along the lines of Fleming, we’d most likely see Madeleine killed off in the pre-titles of BOND 25 and then have it continue on with an extremely loose adaptation of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.
With or without Craig, BOND 25 probably would best try to emulate GOLDENEYE’s trick to reboot without acknowledging any reboot: Good morning, 007, I’ve got something for you… They should try to invent a strong villain like they did with Silva, wrap the whole story around that character and leave Blofeld and anything from past Craig films well alone. Get even rid of the blasted DB5, step forward and don’t look back in anger, remorse, grief.
It would be nice if they could do that, but I doubt that they can resist themselves at this point. Nearly half of the franchise has now been spent on personal vendetta (speaking in terms of time, not films). Assuming at this point that BOND 25 doesn’t arrive until 2019 (or later), then the franchise will have gone 30 years with nothing but personally-driven films. At some point, it just has to be acknowledged that this is what the franchise has become. Maybe it’s the only thing the current EON regime knows how to do.
Would be very sad if this was the case…
On the other hand - and this is perhaps already sacrilege to suggest - we can always hope another franchise/series comes along to kick off a new trend that Eon can then use for inspiration. Hopefully sooner than later…
It definitely would be sad. Hopefully EON finally wises up to the fact that we’re tired of that same old tired trope and decides to try something different. It worked in films like LICENCE TO KILL and QUANTUM OF SOLACE because, first, the story dictated that direction, but also because those instances featured a novelty behind the idea. With LTK, it was a brand new idea for the franchise, and with QOS, it was the first time that we’d seen a direct sequel to a Bond film attempted, and that direction necessitated such an approach to the film. Other than that, though, it’s been entirely by choice and for other reason than that’s just what EON wants to do.
Here’s where you paint yourself in a corner with the “personal” stuff: Either you have something like Trevalyan’s or Elektra’s betrayals in the Brosnan films – neither of which is ever mentioned again or matters one whit outside the one film – or you have Craig-era stuff like the deaths of Vesper and M, which bring lasting change to Bond or his status quo and must be acknowledged ever after.
So with Option 1 you have empty pantomimes of real drama, which we soon learn mean nothing and roll our eyes at, and with Option 2 you have genuine character development, which sounds good at first, but having started you have to see it through. Eventually you have to either resolve the larger “arc” of Bond’s character (by, say, having him conquer his inner demons, set aside his violent ways and settle down with Madeleine) or reboot again with a new Bond, or both.
For decades we got along fine with just one life-changing, canonical event: Tracy’s death. Craig’s era has accreted a ton of continuity barnacles and now Eon has to decide how much is canon and how much will be wiped clean when Craig is replaced.
Ultimately, making everything “personal” is a very bad strategy for perpetuating a long-term franchise.
It´s high time that the personal motivation gets dropped again. There are only a few angles for Bond´s character to pursue that anyway: Vesper, Tracy (love interests), family history (SKYFALL, SPECTRE) and, well, loyalty to his boss (SKYFALL).
That well has been exhausted now.
And I hope EON realizes that.
The angle has been exhausted for a while now, yet EON has continued to plunder it anyway, convinced that it is the way forward.
The best way forward is a standalone adventure that is devoid of any personal entanglement. Give Bond a Bond girl who is one of the proverbial “Bond equals” (so that Bond can’t make it personal by saving a damsel in distress), but make her completely competent but also carefree and not looking for any kind of long-term relationship with Bond. For both of them, it’s just a fling that they have while pursuing a villain that has no ties to Bond, M, Q, Moneypenny, Bond’s parents, Bloferhauser, or anyone else that we’ve seen in the franchise during the past 30 years of “this time…it’s personal” Bond storytelling.
I think that, given the current climate around the world, that audiences would probably like to see Bond go out there and kick ass, taking the fight to the bad guys, without having to be put through the personal wringer. At this point, Bond has probably been through enough already as it is anyway.
It is indeed a bit mysterious, if you think about it, why should the audience care much for Bond’s personal angles any more? We’ve seen a lot of it already, certainly nearly everything you could show in this franchise, short of Bond losing a leg or his eyesight or similarly permanent fates.
Now the focus should return on Bond preventing some major carnage outside his own backyard, ideally something we’re shown and can relate to.
Yes, and one has to wonder: why did EON really think that the personal angle was so essential?
For decades, audiences loved Bond just being the superficial agent. This is what worked wonders. In fact, when LTK started the personal mission, audiences stayed away.
It´s really bad business-thinking to conclude: oh, we need more of that.
From my experience with lead actors, it has become a “disease” of them to demand personal stories for themselves, especially the private vendetta and the going rogue. Brosnan obviously pushed for that and got some of it. And Craig got it all right from the start due to CR´s basic plot, and somehow he seems to have put pressure on EON to continue in that vein.
Another reason why I believe it´s time for Craig to step down. He ties down the series with his approach. It was good for a while. But now to pick that up again for one more film would be pointless. Been there, done that.
The best thing would have been if SPECTRE had disconnected from the three previous films, with Craig really delivering a stand-alone mission without the personal connection to Blofeld, just a nice swan song for him.
Here’s the thing with Craig: everyone goes on about what a great actor he is, but his approach is “less is more.” He doesn’t go into hysterics, he doesn’t break down, he’s not at all “big” with the performances. It’s all very low key: Bond kills with a stoic face, mourns with a stoic face, bleeds with a stoic face.
Yes, there’s that neat moment in CR when he looks at himself in the mirror, covered with blood after the fight in the stairwell, and we sense (maybe) he’s thinking, “What have I become?” Yes, there’s the “b*tch is dead” line from the book, but again it’s a case of “less is more.” We know what he’s feeling, but not because he shows it, rather because he works hard not to. There’s the moment on the shooting range in SF where it seems like even HE is thinking, “Am I washed up?” but again, subtle: it’s all in the eyes, and the way his face goes slack. If it wasn’t on a big screen, you might not even see it. Craig’s approach asks us to participate, to fill in the blanks. We have to meet him half way and interpret the deeper currents running under that deceptively placid surface. Ironically this is much the same approach taken by…wait for it…Roger Moore. Except with a scowl instead of a smirk.
So the challenge becomes “how much can we pile on?” How awful can we make things for Bond to get that one, fleeting expression from Daniel? If you play it for straight-up adventure, his face will stay cast in granite, but if you kill all his friends, or dig up his parents and leave them on his couch, maybe then we’ll glimpse something. This is similar to the “Dalton issue.” Once they’d seen how well he handled anger in TLD, they thought, “How can we engineer a movie where he’s angry the whole time?” It would not have been a sustainable model in the long run.
I think the most emotional I ever saw Craig’s Bond was when Silva blew up the Aston Martin and Bond gets this look of “Oh, HELL No!” Which struck me as hilarious: I laughed out loud and I wasn’t the only one. I do not think that’s what Mendes was going for. But when you play it as close to the vest as Craig does, any expression that’s at all “bigger” risks becoming funny.
Anyway, I think if they keep Craig on, they’ll have to continue with the sturm und drang just to support his style. So I’m okay with him moving on.