So EON says we’ll get Daniel Craig’s third turn as James Bond on November 9, 2012. Cool. But what does this mean to me - er, you, the die-hard Bond fan? What does this news hold for what’s been the most refreshing chapter of this film franchise since most of us were born? If I were a betting man, I’d say get ready for an event film that will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the franchise, and will also serve as Daniel Craig’s 007 swan song.
Why do I think it’s Craig’s last Bond? I hope it’s not, but let’s look at some numbers: regardless of the number of films he’s done, by the end of 2012, Craig will have spent six years as Ian Fleming’s master spy. (If I were any good at Powerpoint, there’d be a nifty graph right here.) But consider: Sean Connery quit after five films in five years (then came back 4 years later, then came back 12 years after that, but still); Pierce Brosnan’s blow-dried incarnation ran for 7 years (and two or three films too long, some would argue); Roger Moore played the role until he was old enough to play M. On top of those track records, attention spans (both actors’ and audiences’) aren’t what they used to be, and thanks to MGM’s neither shitting nor getting off the pot, Craig seems to have spent a good chunk of his tenure as Bond finding other things to do, and will be 44 by the time Bond 23 is released (Bond nerds predict the last dregs of Fleming titles like The Property of a Lady or The Hildebrand Rarity. Hey, after the last title, those are up there with The Empire Strikes Back).
While I lament the four-year gap we’re now in the middle of, odds are the studio’s money troubles only cost us one Bond film between the underwhelming Quantum of Solace and this new one. And the fact of the matter is, Craig’s already covered a shit-ton of Bond ground in his two films, ticking off oodles of obligatory Bond moments:
- Superhuman Casino Luck
Lethal Hand To Hand Skills
Skydiving Without A Parachute
Wrecking An Aston Martin (x2)
“Bond, James Bond”
Getting Innocent Women Killed With His Penis (x2)
In addition, Bond’s done an impressive amount of globetrotting in just two films: Prague, Madagascar, London, the Bahamas, Miami, Montenegro, Italy (three different cities), Haiti, Austria, Bolivia, and Russia! Craig’s Bond might be more down to earth, but he’s ain’t flying coach with those preferred miles. Although he seems like a serious overachiever based on his first two outings, if this does turn out to be Craig’s last turn as 007, he’s got a hell of a checklist of Bond Shit he still needs to do:
- Meet Moneypenny and Q
Take part in a deadly ski chase on a mountain
Bang a blonde
Bang an Asian
Bang anyone who’s not white
Lead an army of commandos in a large-scale battle
Have a great theme song by Shirley Bassey
Have a great theme song by anyone
Be slightly racist on Asian soil
Sounds like my man’s dance card is full. Maybe he should do a fourth entry after all! (And - fanwank - get Neil Marshall to direct that fourth film.)
The internet is full of fans who want a “proper” Bond film from Craig’s run, citing Moneypenny, Q, and “having the gunbarrel sequence in the right place.” I couldn’t care less about that stuff. If anyone is running out to a Bond film to see those elements, I don’t want to hang out with those people. Craig’s run has been characterized by its very deliberate lack of those trappings; I see no reason to just shoehorn that shit into the last one “for the fans”, though it’s likely they will to some degree. It’s going to be awkward and silly to keep riffing on the “Bond Begins” shit six years into his 00 status. Moving past that tone might be the one saving grace to this extended gap between films.
If I were to give in to one desire for a return to formula, it would be that Craig deserves one “fun” romp as 007. You can see the actor trying to have fun around the edges of his oh-so-grim scripts thus far; EON really should give him one slightly larger than life Bond flick where the fate of the world hangs in the balance. What better year to pull that particular trigger than 2012?