From the Archives: Bond Will Never Die, But He Should Take a Vacation

From the Archives: Bond Will Never Die, But He Should Take a Vacation

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Daniel Craig is now four movies (and almost ten years!) deep in his tenure as the world’s foremost super-spy, James Bond, and if the reception of the most recent entry, SPECTRE, is any indication, the wear and tear is beginning to show. The reviews have ranged from bad to middling, but even the most positive responses have come with a few caveats. This is a somewhat unique circumstance, as Bond movies tend to be either incredible or terrible, very rarely entering the realm of “decent,” and it leaves one wondering where the franchise will head next. Craig is not contractually obligated to any further films, but has not outright denied that it could happen (or is at least hesitant to negotiate contracts during a press tour), but it’s definitely certain that if he’s not at the end of his run, he’s close.skyfall-still

The standard reboot for the franchise has always consisted of a re-casting of Bond and a change in tone, usually befitting of the times, as well as the capabilities of the actor at the center. Connery was cool and very 60s. George Lazenby, if nothing else, proved that the series isn’t married to one actor. Roger Moore was the goofy Bond, fitting in with the cheesiness inherent with early 80s pop-culture. Timothy Dalton closed the 80s with a stricter, more cold-blooded 007. Pierce Brosnan picked up the role in the 90s seemingly on the strength of Remington Steele (a role which actually kept him away from picking up the Bond reins earlier), and in a way exposed he moviegoing audience to the modern concept of a reboot. Finally, Daniel Craig stepped into the role, initially to some resistance (he is the Internet message board-era Bond, after all), but was soon embraced as one of the best Bonds we’ve ever had. Some, myself included, think he tops the list.

Moviegoers are already predicting the next re-casting of Bond (since it is certainly inevitable), and there’s even been conversation of even changing up his race and casting an actor like Idris Elba (who I think would be a poor choice to play Bond for reasons outside of race). So who should play Bond? I don’t know. I really don’t know. There’s nothing about the character that ties him to any specific look, be it hair, skin color, or physique, and each previous actor has had their pros and cons. It will have to be an actor who jibes with the tone of the film.

And that’s the next question. What will be the tone? Craig was the Bond of the gritty-reboot age of franchised cinema, which is a style that is now becoming a punchline. Will the next iteration soften things? Should it?  Personally, I do tend to like a Bond who is enjoying is job as a womanizing, half-drunk, nigh inhuman spy – and the last two films of Craig’s tenure has left the character a bit mopey for my taste – but the current cultural standards dictate that the only way to maintain the cruder aspects of Bond would be with a wink and a nod. So perhaps the next chapter of the franchise will lean on parody. It’s hard to say.

Which brings up my next question: Is the best choice just to, ahem, live and let die? Is this the end for 007? Is the world of Bond one of the past? Perhaps we’ve aged out of it. Perhaps it is best to end on a relative high-note and just remember how much fun we’ve had with Bond over the years. Of course, the money says no, and Bond will certainly outlive us all, but the questions always remains as to whether it’s better to burn out or fade away.


Personally, if we cannot simply put a metaphorical bullet in his head (and no, I would not abide by killing off his character. Nope. Nopenopenope), I think the series could benefit from some dormancy. Let’s allow some time to pass between Craig’s final outing and whatever comes next. Let’s give the next film a chance to exist on its own merits as opposed to having to measure up to anything prior.  After a break of, say, 10 years, we absolutely could have a black James Bond. We could have an actor who is currently unknown redefine the character in a new way. We could even start casting former Bonds as Bond villains (come on, you know that would rule). Heck, you know what I’d like to see? Sean Connery as an old-man Bond coming out of retirement for a slow-burn, le Carré-style mission. Then again, 10 years is a long time for a man of Connery’s age, but Dalton could certainly still be in good form by then. I’d watch it. We all would.

In summation, after SPECTRE (which I mostly enjoyed), I simply cannot predict the next move for the most predictable franchise since The Scooby-Doo Mysteries, and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe we should stop planning/hoping/expecting, and just let it rest. Bond will be back someday, that much is certain, but until then, we’ve got 24 movies to enjoy, and more importantly, to study, and see what we can learn.

That said, I’ll keep watching these damn things as long as they keep ’em coming.

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