Saturday, 15 October 2016

Bond 25 speculation: If Daniel Craig returns

There's been more speculation about Bond 25 recently, so I put together some thoughts on what I'd like to see in it.

If Daniel Craig came back, my hope would be that the producers would do what they did in For Your Eyes Only and scale things down and work on making the story work.

What I'd like to see:

a) a simple story. Casino Royale boils down to a card game -- if Bond wins, the world is spared a lot of bad stuff; if he loses/dies, bad things will happen.

Most Bond movies, especially since the Seventies, seem to be ashamed to keep their stories simple. They feel the need to throw in extra twists and villains. Forget that -- just keep it straightforward.

b) by keeping the plot straightforward, it allows breathing space for other things -- like characters. And the most primary of these is a good villain. Spectre fumbles this badly with weak motivations and a baffling scheme where the stakes weren't that tangible. Put Bond against someone who is at least his equal, with a strong motivation and a simple goal with horrific consequences if he (or she) wins.

c) This might be too much to ask, considering Casino Royale set the bar so high, but Spectre suffered from the undercooked romance between Bond and Madeline Swann. A well-written relationship between Bond and the woman will give an emotional weight to the story, and provide something for the audience to invest in. I would personally be in favour of keeping this relationship non-sexual -- it's a cliche of Bond movies that the franchise can afford do dodge for at least a few installments. I would suggest having no woman at all, but this is James Bond, so...

d) keep the supporting players at home.

The new supporting cast are great -- but next time, use 'em or lose 'em. Casino Royale worked just fine without them, and Spectre lost a good 20-30 minutes with unnecessary subplots.

e) Here's an idea. How about a 90 minute runtime? No Bond movie has gone under 100 minutes, and most of them have at least a few superfluous scenes. Spectre clocked in at a leisurely 2 and a half hours -- and felt every minute of it. Let's keep it nice and economical this time.

f) Let's have some music to write home about. Thomas Newman is a good composer, but I could not remember one note of his scores. Bring back David Arnold, or somebody else who can get a whiff of the old John Barry flavour back.

What I'd like to see go

a) Ever since Skyfall, there's an air of 'prestige' wafting around the franchise which needs to go. Big name directors and stars aren't necessary for Bond, and I'd hate to see the series sink further into respectability. It's James Bond, glorified pulp. Treat it as such, and do it well.

b) The bloated budget. I get it -- movies are expensive. But 250 million dollars?!? Back in the Eighties, the Bond producers set a cap of 30 million for their budgets, and I feel like a similar strategy might be helpful today. It might help with the story-telling and force the filmmakers to become more imaginative.

c) Endless callbacks. I think I'm done with the eulogising. References to earlier movies have been present in the franchise for a long time, but it has become a drag on the series since Brosnan. Just do your own thing and stop worrying about referencing something Connery did back in 1964. The movie will thank you for it.

d) Stop having Bond go rogue. Just have him get a mission -- then he can go and do whatever he likes. 

e) get rid of the eye in the sky. Bond is at his best when he can only depend on himself.

James Bond is a character built on arrogance and self-awareness, so there's no better way to end this rant by massaging my own ego. Keep in mind, I've tried to come up with something that fits the parameters of Craig's Bond, so don't expect too much in the way of gadgets and the more 'epic' stuff.

My pitch: After some kind of cool pre-title scene involving explosions and hot chicks, Bond has a routine assignment to retrieve a thing or a person. 

After retrieving said person/object, he is ambushed and cut off from home (maybe his Aston Martin gets blown up ala For Your Eyes Only). 

He has to make his way through a gauntlet of various obstacles to get the thing/person to safety.

And instead of a massive faceless organisation, make the villain another assassin who constantly has Bond on the back foot. Making the villain an evil version of Bond would be a nice change of pace, and give Craig's Bond a genuine threat to face.

Think of him/her as a combination of Golden Gun's Scaramanga, From Russia's Red Grant, For Your Eyes Only's Locque and Living Daylights' Necros. Take Scaramanga's personality, Grant's intelligence, Locque's anonymity and Necros' human battering ram and you could have a great foe.

Craig's Bond really hasn't had a physical foe to contend with (Spectre's Hinx wasn't around long enough to make an impression) and making his last movie another battle of wits ala Casino Royale would suit his style and give him some dramatic meat to bite into.

Since the filmmakers are always remaking previous Bond movies, this pitch could work as From Russia With Love meets The Man With The Golden Gun.

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