Once we finally get to see No Time To Die, Bond fans will again be in the position of wondering who will play 007 in future films. But what about the direction the films will take?
Daniel Craig’s tenure as the super spy has been a resounding success, it goes without saying that the gamble EON Productions took in 2006’s Casino Royale, rebooting Bond, Bond Begins if you must, paid off.
Unlike the previous movies which introduced the new Bond actor into the existing “canon”, Casino Royale visited a newly-sanctioned Bond on his first mission.
Craig’s departure comes at a point where the producers seem to be neatly tying his films as their own self-contained storyline. His Bond has loved, lost, grieved, died, been resuscitated, been assumed dead, and retired twice.
The next James Bond will surely not attempt to continue Craig’s stories. And he can’t begin as a young new agent again. So what could EON do?
Firstly they could simply produce a new movie with a new actor introduced with no big fanfare.
Sean Connery’s first appearance in Doctor No has become iconic. George Lazenby was introduced with teasing glimpses of his face as he drove along the coastal road pursuing Tracy’s sports car. Yet his 007 followed on from Connery’s continuity.
In Live and Let Die, Roger Moore simply appeared in his house sporting a nice housecoat and making coffee. The same performers M (Bernard Lee) and Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) reappeared again so we had a new face, but with the same Bond. Indeed, in later Moore films, they mentioned storylines from films prior to Live and Let Die.
Timothy Dalton appeared on a training mission in Gibraltar, turning to face the camera when he hears the dying screams of a fellow agent. Same Bond, new face.
Pierce Brosnan leapt off a dam and infiltrated a Russian facility. The first time you see his face he’s upside down, but the first clear view is when the door opens, light falling across his face.
Craig himself is first seen simply sitting in the darkness in an office, new face, but this time a younger alternative take on Bond, who wasn’t even a double-O agent yet.
There’s no reason why Bond film 26 could just have Bond (new face) getting a mission from M then jetting off to bed women, drink cocktails and make witty jokes like the early films.
But what if the producers mined one of the most eye-opening scenes from one of creator Ian Fleming’s books?
Fans know that the films don’t follow the book continuity, nor do the plots themselves stick too closely to the novels. They have taken aspects from the books over the years, but one they have steered away from is the opening of The Man with the Golden Gun.
In the previous novel, You Only Live Twice, Bond is badly wounded and suffering from amnesia. At the start of Golden Gun, Bond returns to London after a year missing, presumed dead and asks for a meeting with M. And during the meeting, he tries to kill his boss!
We learn Bond has been reprogrammed by the Soviets and MI6 decide to have him restored to health again.
I think this could be a brilliant way to reboot the character without making it seem like a reboot.
Bond has amnesia. Perhaps he doesn’t recognise himself. He doesn’t know who to trust. He doesn’t remember his card-playing prowess. He doesn’t remember his love of vodka martinis. He has to learn who Bond is, and we are with him as he learns
Picture the pre-credits: Bond infiltrates a facility, rendering security unconscious. He nimbly avoids detection and after a spectacular stunt or two, he pounces on his target. And shock! – it’s M and Moneypenny on an official visit somewhere exotic. Cue a car chase, explosions and near success before he is overpowered by other agents. Cue the theme song.
Have the new Bond film reintroduce the character of Bond to Bond. Have him unable to recognise his own face. Have him suffer the frustration of not remembering. Have him desperate to prove his worth.
Have him seek revenge on whoever brainwashed him: perhaps the Soviets who are evil again? Or the maniacal chemist who invented the serum “Trueblood” that altered his reality and is hawking it to the highest-bidding unscrupulous sellers across the globe who will end civilisation as we know it?
Or other villains ripped from the headlines: power-hungry despots? Crazy trillionaires? Film Twitter?
We have to wait another few months for No Time to Die and I am very much looking forward to it.
But just think about how exciting it will be for fans endlessly speculating about the new actor, and the new direction this record-breaking near 60-year old movie franchise will take.
NO TIME TO DIE is scheduled to arrive April 2, 2021. Read our Bond Retrospective reviews here, and look out for our reviews of NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN and SPECTRE, as well as our discussion of THE BOND GIRL FORMULA.
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