After a borderline insufferable period of time devoid of news, EON announced on Monday, July 24th 2017 that Bond 25 will grace cinema screens on November 9th, 2019 in the United States (which de facto means Canada as well), with the now traditional earlier release in Europe. While the news was not exactly what prompted the blog to return from its summer slumber (the Robert Brownjohn article was actually in preparation as early as last weekend, just before Monday), the factual, set in stone reality of a new James Bond movie is, understandably, cause to share thoughts and debate with fellow fans.
Everybody on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere has already shared their two cents. I myself have engaged in some cordial back and forth episodes with 00 fans on Twitter since Monday. As far as using the blog as a platform to reveal innermost thoughts, I preferred digesting the announcement and let it simmer a few days while my imagination let loose a bit, and here we are.
To be completely honest, even though almost an entire week has gone by, I still don’t know exactly what I’d want in a new Bond film. To an extent, I sympathize for screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade who, a few months ago, admitted to finding the task of conjuring up a new Bond plot rather challenging given the dubious socio-political landscape that currently reigns. Much of what would have made for a wonderful set up 15 or 20 years ago is actually happening in the real world. There’s also the fact that the duo has had either a small or large hand in every Bond script since TWINE. Sooner or later, one runs out of ideas. Nevertheless, research on the franchise’s recent history strongly suggests that Purvis and Wade have rarely been the culprits for some of the more face palm inducing moments in TWINE and onwards. As such, my faith in them remains intact, although I do not envy the task of having to come up with an original idea in the same franchise for the seventh time.
Queries in the immediate aftermath of SP and since Monday have primarily pertained to two elements: Daniel Craig’s return and the possible continuation of the grand story arc that began in CR. I remember leaving SP very satisfied with Craig’s performance (criticisms of the actor appearing bored are utter hogwash) and genuinely wishing he would come back. As time elapsed, I don’t hold to that sentiment as strongly. Craig is an extraordinarily gifted actor and wonderful as 007, so if he were to return one last time, I’d be overjoyed. However, I have officially made peace with the fact that he might not. If necessary, I’m ready to embrace a new face. For EON to make official that Bond 25 is in the works without referencing the actual star of the show is questionable. Virtually everyone has swayed towards the opinion that Craig will be back. I’m less confident. First, why not just say so? Wouldn’t confirming the participation of such a lucrative star help with the distribution quagmire MGM finds itself in at the moment? Wouldn’t that reassure more parties and appease the process? Second, announcing in July of 2017 that a movie is coming out in November of 2019…That’s 51 months away. A studio can do a lot of work during that time, namely, undergo a casting process for the starring role. I’ll be more than happy to learn that my doubts are incorrect, but I will argue there is more than one way to interpret this past week’s news despite that the whole planet is interpreting it the exact same way.
As for what I hope regarding the story, I suppose my answer is a little nebulous. The rebirth of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and Blofeld were exciting in the leadup to SP, although I must join the chorus of those that say both could have been handled better. ‘Better’ does not mean they were mishandled in the previous film, but both the organization and its leader left me hungry. For that reason, I can’t claim to have a strong preference for a continuation of the terrorist organization’s shenanigans. I don’t buy the argument about Craig being a requisite to finish the SP storyline. Lazenby took over from Connery and both Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. were back in OHMSS. What’s more, why is it such a necessity to finish off with the villainous entity? Just take a break from it, it didn’t run as smoothly as possible with their first at the can, do something different, and maybe come back with Blofeld in a couple films. It’s not the end of the world.
There are a few slightly more concrete ideas that I have been thinking about for Bond 25. One has to do with what would not interest me, whereas the other two would. Both SF and SP dabbled with ‘information’ being part of the antagonists’ plots. Cyber-terrorism, so to speak. While no one is going to argue that cyber-terrorism is not a real world problem, I’m not convinced it makes for as thrilling a cinematic concept as others do. I’m sure there’s a way to do it right, but back-to-back films is enough. What’s more, that part of SP really didn’t hit home very convincingly. It almost served as background noise to the revelation of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. itself.
What I do think would be cool are robotics and artificial intelligence, which harkens back to the oft referenced but unused Bond 17 script that would have been Timothy Dalton’s 3rd entry. The possibilities, certainly from a visual and hence cinematic standpoint, are much more stimulating. I’m not necessarily saying Bond would fight off the rise of Skynet from the Terminator films, but perhaps a danger that could lead the world down that sort of path. That’s material inspired by real technological advancements that, in the right hands, could look amazing on screen.
Another potential threat could come from medicinal and/or chemical research gone awry. The first story arc in the Dynamite Entertainment rebooted 007 comics has a brilliant medical and technology scientist test a drug with horrifying side effects on the U.K. population. There has been for some time already much controversial hoopla concerning the happenings of major pharmaceuticals. Everybody needs medicine at some point in their life, so why not have a megalomaniac take advantage of that unavoidable need for his or her own personal gain? That could be exciting and genuinely terrifying to boot.
If robotics, artificial intelligence or medicine don’t figure in the plot, just make the bad guys steal some super dirty bombs and hold the world ransom. It’s not original, but if we’re being honest, the point of a Bond film is the journey, not the destination.
The countdown to November 2019 has officially begun.