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Idea for the next Bond (and his run)

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#1 CasinoKiller



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Posted 26 July 2015 - 12:17 PM

So SPECTRE is out this year, and I think chances are we will be getting a fifth Craig Bond film (MAYBE even a sixth). But we are, with each passing year, nearing the point where the Craig era eventually ends, and the producers (and the rest of us, who love to speculate about the franchise all day long!) will have to seriously start considering how they want to move forward with the next Bond.


It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Craig's Bond is the most developed and well-realized version of the character. His Bond is the first one on screen to really be explored psychologically, to have a real backstory, and to have a defined arc of sorts. We see him start out as a rookie 00 agent in his first film, see him suffer heartbreak and betrayal and become hardened into the charismatic machine we all know and love, see him broken down and rebuild himself and confront his past and move ever closer to being a 21st century version of the 'original' cinematic Bond embodied by Sean Connery.


Indeed, looking at the Craig era from a pseudo-chronological perspective, the first two films were an origin story, and Skyfall served as a distant coda to the origin and brought us right to the edge of the Connery era (indeed, the final scene of Skyfall could very well have led into the opening of Dr. No!) With SPECTRE, we're firmly in a 21st century version of the Connery era, not just literally with the film's plot and villains (as well as other call-backs and visual cues like the white tuxedo from Goldfinger, Bond seeing an assassin's widow at his funeral etc.) but also in terms of where Craig's Bond is psychologically at this point. He truly is the suave, sophisticated secret agent, the well-oiled machine, that Sean Connery embodied. The 'origin' is finally over and his evolution is complete. The 'golden age' of Bond is back again!


But with all this evolution, the question remains - where exactly will the series go post-Craig? Will it be some attempt to continue the Craig era? Will there be another reboot, implicit or explicit? Will the Craig era be considered one self-contained arc and we just go back to random stand-alone films? And how will the new Bond differ from Craig's Bond (and is it necessary for him to be that different?)


So here's my suggestion for the new era...


Essentially, I think what we need is a 21st century reinvention of the Moore Bond.


Yes, I know Moore's Bond is often considered to be a low-point for the franchise in retrospect. Personally though, I firmly believe he delivered at least two great movies (LALD and TSWLM) and a couple of reasonably good ones apart from those. And its difficult to fault Moore's performance. He achieved pretty much what he set out to achieve - present Bond as the perfect, charming 'gentleman spy' who was ready to get his hands dirty but would do so with the perfect manners.


The reason why I want the next Bond to channel a bit of Moore is because of a theory I've personally had for a while. Now continuity was never an issue with the Bond films until relatively recently, but its pretty clear that Moore's Bond was supposed to be a continuation of Connery's Bond. So I wondered why Bond would go from being the sophisticated hunter of the Connery era to the somewhat whimsical gentleman adventurer of the Moore era...and what I came up with is that by the time of the Moore era, Bond was using the humor and light-heartedness as a coping mechanism.


Connery's Bond was Bond at his prime. He was basically a 'superman' as far as the world of espionage and covert ops went. He brought down SPECTRE and Blofeld. He tussled with the likes of Dr No, Goldfinger and Largo (not to mention Rosa Klebb and Grant). He was coolness and awesomness personified.


By the time of Moore's Bond though, we have an older wearier Bond past his prime. This is a Bond who's been widowed, a Bond who's realized that his life is an endless treadmill of over-the-top foes and international adventure. The only way he can really stay sane in his middle-age and carry on being 007 (because there really isn't much else in his life) is to psychologically take a step back from the reality of his spy-life...in other words, basically stop taking his life and job so damn seriously! So he smiles and makes stupid jokes and beds women and acts like the perfect gentleman while saving the world, because he really thinks its a game now in his head...its the only way he can psychologically survive.


Now this is just a subtext I derived, but I would be really intrigued if this was actually explored with the next Bond actor. Make him a continuation of the Craig Bond. Envision him as the Craig Bond, years later, older and wearier, who's seen and done it all, and now doesn't even take it so seriously anymore. Except that this time, people may call out Bond on it, or Bond may be forced to introspect on this sense of denial. And there may be a few meta-jokes on how things are getting a bit over-the-top in the films again. Indeed, the whole thing could be a meta-commentary on how people want relatively light-hearted and action-packed blockbusters today as escapism from the troubles and darkness of the real world.


The seeds of this idea are already present in the SPECTRE trailer scene where Bond admits that "I don't stop to think about it" when asked about the darkness and relentless danger and violence of his life.

#2 rubixcub



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Posted 29 July 2015 - 05:35 PM

That's a very thoughtful analysis, CK!  Reading into it further than most, true (the change in tone followed the change in leading man, confirmed by interviews with the creative team), but a neat continuity speculation, nonetheless!


In all simplicity, any shift in tone will probably have less to do with continuity and more to do with the star & directors.



#3 dtuba



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Posted 01 August 2015 - 02:53 AM

Yes, some very good ideas. But you have to take into account the sociopolitical environment that surrounded the Moore era - a poor economy, Watergate and Vietnam (at least in the US), the energy crisis, and so forth. I was just a wee lad but it seemed like movie goers wanted escapism and Moore's Bond gave it to us. Of course, I was in elementary school at the time so I could be way off ;) .

#4 Guy Haines

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Posted 01 August 2015 - 06:18 AM

The "Moore approach" to Bond actually started before Sir Roger landed the role, with DAF, and even OHMSS, that serious "tragic" Bond film didn't lack its light hearted moments. But it only really got going with Moore's third film TSWLM, because by that time it seemed the film makers could fashion the film around the actor, and Roger Moore freely admitted he couldn't take the part of Bond that seriously. (And he had a point - something to do with being an undercover agent but every hotel barman in the world knows his real name.)

For the idea above to work you would need not only an older actor than Craig to step in, but one with a similar attitude to the role as Moore.

Unless Spectre, or its successor fail miserably with audiences, I can't see the "what works" approach of the producers changing. True, a new actor as Bond will look different, sound different and may have a different take on Bond, but no so radically different as to amount to 180 degree approach in the way Bond is played. That tends to happen only when there's a compelling reason for it to happen; after OHMSS' relative lack of success; mid 1980s when, after the Moore Bonds were beginning to run out of box office steam almost by accident a new approach was found; mid nineties after the six year hiatus, to revamp and re-introduce tha character; and mid nougties when the chance to make CR "properly" finally came, and with it another chance to re-invent Bond.

It will happen sooner or later - a new approach to Bond. I just can't see it happening just yet.

#5 JLaidlaw



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Posted 02 August 2015 - 12:46 PM

Unless Spectre, or its successor fail miserably with audiences, I can't see the "what works" approach of the producers changing...

It will happen sooner or later - a new approach to Bond. I just can't see it happening just yet.


I respectfully disagree. One thing we know about this production team is that they will take risks. They will change the direction of the series, sometimes in response to cinema trends, sometimes trying to stay ahead of the curve. When the finance said Bond 21 should be Die Another Day 2, and Halle Berry should be hastily contracted a spin-off, these producers threw away a four-film leading man, and employed a realtively unknown actor, and made Casino Royale.


Having successfully reinvigorated the Bond formula with this long, leisurely, suspenseful action thriller, they then tried to subvert expectations once more and produced the jump-cutting, breack-neck paced Quantum of Solace. A high-class, sophisticated world of gentleman villains was replaced with a dirtier, more hostile world full of genuine human suffering. Then after a couple of movies with slick, business like villains, came the gothic horror of Silva and Skyfall. Hard-rocking action themes gave way to slow orchestral epics. And sidestepping the past gave way to celebrating it.


Now I don't always believe these decisions necessarily worked in the final product. But they are gutsy decisions. Bond was in the business of following its contemporaries during the Moore era, with its Kung-fu, blaxploitation and space opera. Now it's of its time, sure. It looks over its shoulder to see what MI and Fast and Furious, and the rest, are doing, as every leading big budget movie would and should. But it's also brave enough to make decisions which may not always seem logical, and do change direction.


Complaints about upcoming Batman/Spiderman projects are that they will mirror almost exactly the successful movies that have just been released. I don't expect Bond #7 to receive the same complaints.


One thing to the original poster - If we're seeing Craig as a modernised Connery (which I don't necessarily agree with, he's more Daltonesque) then surely Pierce is just as close, if not closer, to a modernised-Moore, with the tears of a clown narrative of which you speak. I suspect EON will try to aim for a different spin than either Brosnan or Craig.

#6 rubixcub



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Posted 02 August 2015 - 03:36 PM

JLaidlaw, I agree that the producers will change direction from time to time, but I don't agree about why.


Often, it seems, the pendulum swings in a reactionary fashion.  "This film was too _______, we should go in a different direction for the next one."


The first four of five Bonds were pretty consistent, and kept a fairly similar tone between them.  Think about the contrasts between certain back-to-back film pairings:

YOLT & OHMSS: after a larger-than-life film heavy on gadgets, hardware, and set pieces, the producers put forth one of the most human and least gadget-laden films of the series

OHMSS & DAF: after the disappointment of OHMSS & its seriousness, the producers go the other way with the most cartoony Bond yet

MR & FYEO: after sending Bond to space, the producers made a conscious effort to bring him down to earth, with less reliance on hardware and more on his wits, trying to go back to FRWL

TWINE & DAD: after TWINE was too "soap opera", DAD was larger-than-life and ran into sci-fi concepts

CR & QOS: after making the longest Bond film, they then made the shortest (sacrificing character in the mix, IMO)


There are other instances where you can make this case, too, but by all appearances, the producers react to the criticisms of each Bond film by trying to reduce or eliminate said criticism from the next, whether it's too serious, too silly, or even too long or too short (note that after QOS & it's record shortest running time, SF ran only 1 minute shorter than their record longest running time.)


By contrast, when something works, they seem to just keep going in that direction: the size & scope of MR is, surely, a natural outgrowth of the success of its predecessor, TSWLM.  FRWL has much in common with DN, likewise TMWTGG feels in many ways like a straight-up sequel to LALD.