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Movie Mom

Is It Too Late for James Bond?

posted by Nell Minow

It sounded promising, with Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) as director and Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon” and “The Queen”) as writer, with Daniel Craig returning and, perhaps most intriguingly, Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz as the villain. But the status of the next James Bond movie has been shifted from on hold to canceled entirely. Has Jason Bourne done what all those bad guys could not? Has he wiped out James Bond? Have modern, shaky camera, gritty spy movies and mundane real-life spy stories like the recent arrests of deep cover Russian spies in the suburbs made it impossible for us to enjoy the glossy elegance of the Bond series after 22 films? Or can he be re-booted again, even re-Bourne?
The Guardian’s film blog has a good discussion about Bond’s future prospects. On one hand, James Bond is one of the world’s great brands, with all-but-guaranteed box office sales. On the other hand, the recent entries in the series, arguably everything since Sean Connery, have been infomercials stuffed with product placement and mired in retro notions of glamor that are uncomfortably outdated.
I don’t doubt that Bond will be back. The franchise still has value. But this stumble should be an opportunity to refocus on story, not stunts, and entertainment, not product sales.

  • bill smith

    I thought the recent troubles with the James Bond franchise had nothing to do with the franchise itself, but more about the studio that owns it…I thought the last two (the ones with Daniel Craig) were really pretty good. Pierce Brosnan dropping cheeseball puns (and painful product placement) did more damage than good…

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Agreed about the Craig films and the product placement overkill, Bill. I think they will make it work again. Bond is not Bourne and there is still a market for that kind of sleek fantasy spy story.

  • Dave

    I miss Timothy Dalton, or at least, the Timothy Dalton that was in The Living Daylights, my personal favorite James Bond (though I don’t deny that License to Kill was awful). Maybe it was because Dalton was a step backward, toward the original vision as established in the Sean Connery years, and a wonderful breath of fresh air following the hammy, never-getting-his-hair-mussed Roger Moore. Pierce Brosnan may be very popular with many, and he was decent, but I always thought he was too much of a step back toward Roger Moore, the wise-cracking, never disheveled super-spy with more toys than grit. I confess I’ve not seen either of the Daniel Craig films yet.
    James Bond has been re-interpreted so many times over the years and like a phoenix, rose again from his own ashes, such as he did in The Living Daylights, following a long stretch of Roger Moore films that threatened to turn the character into a caricature of himself. It can happen again. There’s been grittier versions of Bond, in the guise of Connery and Dalton (and as I understand it, Craig is a big step that direction, as well), and I do think the grittier Bonds can stand up to the likes of Jason Bourne any day of the week. But it will mean making sure that it’s Bond’s wits that keeps him alive and not so much a rocket launcher hidden in his Aston Martin somewhere, keep things about the stunts and the storytelling and less about the effects and the gadgets. That is, after all, the fundamentals of Jason Bourne – it’s his training and his savvy, not his exploding Rolex, that makes him who he is. And at the same time, Bond’s suave polish will still go far to help distinguish him from “everyman” Bourne so that it never feels like the writers are trying to copycat Bourne.

  • Alicia

    Hi, Nell. I love this topic. I really enjoyed “Casino Royale” (I’m also a fan of the spoof from the 1960’s) which I thought had a great deal of heart for a James Bond film. Daniel Craig makes a perfect Bond, IMO, in fact, I like him better than Sean Connery in the role, but I hated, hated hated “Quantum of Solace.”
    It practically destroyed the character of Bond, not through product placement and bad puns, but through making James Bond no better than the villains. He acted in ways that Bond should never act. Having a “license to kill,” and even having an element of desire for revenge is one thing. But I has totally grossed out by Bond at the conclusion of “Quantum of Solace.” Please, bring back the fun of “Goldfinger” and “Casino Royale.”

  • Vince Lugo

    The reason this annoys me is that I saw on TV the other day they were in the middle of filming the next Bond film when the studio pulled the plug. Why, why, WHY didn’t they let them finish? If you want a hiatus, fine, but why couldn’t they give us this one more film first? It’s like they gave a giant middle finger to everyone involved with the production. Not cool.

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