It’s been two years since Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond ended with the COVID-delayed release of “No Time to Die,” which began production more than four years ago, yet the producers say they “haven’t even begun” work on a follow-up. To that, this longtime Bond fan has just one thing to say…
In a weekend interview with The Guardian, Eon Productions chief Barbara Broccoli — daughter of the original Bond producer, Cubby Broccoli — told the paper there’s “a big road ahead” before Bond can be “reinvented for the next chapter.” She and co-producer/half-brother Michael G. Wilson “haven’t even begun” the process of rebooting Bond for the post-Craig era, she said.
My antennae twitched at the word “reinvent,” but, yes, some reinvention is needed.
Broccoli recalled in the interview that when Eon released “GoldenEye” starring newbie Peirce Brosnan in 1995, “everyone was saying ‘the cold war is over, the wall is over, Bond is dead, no need for Bond, the whole world’s at peace and now there’s no villains’ — and boy was that wrong!” The role was modernized for Brosnan but, as I noted in my 007-part series ranking all the Bond movies last year, his four movies only got a partial reboot. He was a new Bond stuck with too many leftover actors and tropes from the previous eras.
If Brosnan had gotten the complete reinvention that Craig enjoyed, I’d remember him as Sean Connery’s rival instead of the guy who got one great movie, two passable movies, and one stinker.
But how to reinvent Bond again so soon after Craig? I have two ideas and one warning.
“EON Productions shouldn’t start making new movies right away,” I wrote in the final installment of my Bond series. “They ought to let some of this woke madness subside before they reboot.”
That’s the warning.
But what to do with the iconic character and his movies? Keep it real, I suggested in 2022: “No more nuclear blackmail, no more nanobots, no more space stations, no more undersea lairs.” I want a “grown-up movie with grounded villains and real-world spy/assassin thrills,” in a movie that is “true to the character… true to the crazy and dangerous times we live in.” Finally, “The new Bond should be unapologetically pro-British. And his old friend and ally at the CIA, Felix Leiter, should be just as pro-American.”
Moral ambiguity and emotional depth were fine as one-offs for the Craig era, but those have been done now. Barbara, next time, give us the hero we need and deserve.
But how to do all that in today’s confused and confusing world? How about this: DON’T.
Maybe our postmodern Bond needs to take a break from modernity. Barbara, try setting the new movies during some of the darkest days of the Cold War, in the mid-1950s through the mid-’60s, when Ian Fleming wrote and published the original 14 Bond books. Watching Bond kill some Commies before sneaking the beautiful East German double agent across the brand-new Berlin Wall… my heart is racing just thinking about it, and not because in my head I’ve already cast Margot Robbie as the double agent.
OK, not only because.
But taking Bond back to his roots would give audiences something we’ve never seen before — which isn’t easy to do after 25 movies spanning six decades — a Bond true to Fleming’s vision and old-school sensibilities but in movies with modern production values.
Should you go in a fully modern direction, Barbara, just remember this. Reinvention is exactly what is needed, but please, take your time, tread carefully, and be true to the character.
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