BOND 23: The Daniel Craig Experiment Continues

If you were hoping for a return to formula in the next Bond film, you’re shit out of luck.

At the end of Casino Royale, fans were energized by a fresh new take on Bond, one which went out of its way to avoid the trappings and focused on character on a deeper level than the previous 20 films. The hardcore fans who seem to want the same formula in every Bond film weathered the absence of Q, Moneypenny, and the standard gunbarrel opening. They all seemed to enjoy the hell out of it, and then without a hint of irony, voiced their excitement about seeing Craig in a “proper” Bond film. They pined for a more traditional entry now that all that origin stuff was out of the way.

Then Quantum of Solace happened.

The Bond nerds became restless. They put up with one “experimental” Bond film and what did they get for their patience? The shortest Bond flick ever, one which seemed intent on picking apart the formula even more! No gadgets, no Moneypenny, no hoary old rehash of Goldfinger, again! The goddamn gunbarrel shot is at the end of the film!! He never says “Bond, James Bond”! OMG the film’s soundtrack album doesn’t even have the Bond theme on it! But those Bond fans are a resilient bunch, and they composed themselves and said “Okay. Fine. NOW can we please get Daniel Craig in one NORMAL Bond movie?! God!”

Bad news, blokes.

The Guardian is reporting that Ralph Fiennes is being courted by director Sam Mendes for a role of “extreme complexity” in the service of - wait for it - “the first of a new generation of Bond films.” The paper’s source added that Mendes’ plan is to “push the film into darker territory where the characters are modern, mature and challenging.”

This all sounds like the kind of talk Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster was blathering about in EPKs for that film. And while the results were mixed (I think Quantum works in parts, mostly when it deviates from the expected), did any rational movie fan really want to see another willfully formulaic Bond pic in the first place? We have TWENTY of those. Coloring outside the lines should be encouraged, and part of that is putting up with results that don’t always pan out.

Like it or not, it sounds as if EON isn’t done playing with the franchise’s formula. If Mendes succeeds where Forster faltered, this could be the start of a new chapter for the series. If audiences aren’t on board with the results, Daniel Craig’s run as Bond could go down as The Great Daniel Craig Experiment, and Bond 24 could be a sad return to the tired template.