Christmas came early this year when the official “Bond 25” announcement commenced on April 25th. I was so excited (as with every announcement) to learn about the cast, the title, the director, the synopsis, and possibly even get some artwork or a hint of who might sing the title song. However, as with any early Christmas I suppose, it was rather disappointing and lacked any surprises.
Instead, the official announcement for “Bond 25” gave off the distinct impression that production is shaping up like a last-minute meal; a bunch of ingredients thrown together in the hope that something good comes out in the end. No one seemed prepared to answer any questions about the film, and the cast seemed to know nothing about their characters. Clearly the cast and crew haven’t had time to gel yet, which is fine, but doing a mediocre press announcement following worrisome production chaos doesn’t give off a great impression. The whole thing came off like a morning news show, making the whole experience very awkward. For crying out loud, they’ve had four years to plan this!
Nevertheless, here’s what we learned and what I gleaned out of this announcement:
1. Daniel Craig is back and has more control than ever
Although Craig had already confirmed that he was coming back for one more, it was nice to actually see him in the official announcement. He looks to be in fantastic shape and ready to tackle the role one last time.
Craig is undoubtedly one of the best Bonds in the franchise, however his role as co-producer and recent reports detailing him having control over casting and the director have me worried. Craig co-produced “Spectre” and was given a larger creative license over that movie, and the end result was far from stellar. That’s not to say that his inputs weren’t valuable (we really have no idea what he contributed from a producer standpoint) or that any of them affected the quality of the movie, but per reports, it sounds like Craig has been given absolute control over the “Bond 25” set.
I was very excited when Cary Fukunaga was announced as the director. He could really bring an art-house feel to the Bond franchise and produce a Bond film that feels more like a psychological thriller. I can’t wait to see what he does with the movie. However, if Craig really has control over the director, there are going to be arguments and more production delays, and Fukunaga won’t be able to put his creative stamp on his own film. This would be incredibly disappointing, and I hope it’s not true (or at least has been blown out of proportion), but my gut feeling is that Craig will put restraints on Fukunaga and the rest of the cast, and the end result will be a mediocre entry that lacks a proper vision.
2. Daniel Craig thinks Bond could be female (sigh)
I’m sick of hearing about this. Previous Bond girls have laughed at it. Barbara Broccoli has said that it will never happen. Yet for some reason, Craig continues to say that Bond could become a female role. How insane. He probably just wants to stay in the good graces of liberal Hollywood and stay in the party scene so he can get good roles after Bond. Give me a break.
There are two things Bond must remain: male and heterosexual. To undermine these traits would be to undermine an iconic character, a franchise, its creator, and its fans. James Bond is the archetypal masculine male – capable, intelligent, confident, suave, and debonair. Bond is first and foremost an attitude; a male attitude. And whether or not women admit it, they want men like James Bond.
I may expand on this issue more in another article, but frankly, I don’t see how a female Bond could even be considered Bond. Women deserve their own original characters and franchises, but unfortunately the trend in Hollywood has been to shoot a huge middle finger to male audiences and remake their favorite male-dominated franchises with women leads. The results yield consistently poor writing and box office failures. It’s unfair to both sexes. For God’s sake, quite whining and make something original.
3. The script isn’t finished yet
The most glaring issue with “Bond 25” is its lack of a finished script. This implies that they have started shooting without a coherent vision or story, much like they did with “Quantum of Solace.” It’s also possible that what they are shooting now are sequences that can stand on their own, and they just want to get these out of the way so they can make the release date. I think it’s important though that, at all times in production, the cast and crew have a sense of vision. Hitchcock famously ranted about the importance of a quality script in making a quality film. The director, the actors, and the fans deserve one.
4. At this point, no one really knows what is going on or where the story is going
When Ana De Armas was asked about how she prepared for her role, she couldn’t answer, because she hasn’t started preparing for it at all. It wouldn’t surprise me if she didn’t even know the name of her character yet, let alone her role in the story. And when she asked Cary for help in answering, he said, “We’ll play it by ear.”
This does not inspire confidence, which is what Bond fans were looking for in this announcement. I’m sure Daniel and Cary have read the first draft of the script, but it keeps getting worked on again and again. Though good movies have come out of this kind of turmoil (“Rogue One,” for example), the Bond franchise has never been able to adapt as well as its titular character in difficult circumstances. Danny Boyle left due to creative differences (probably disagreements with Craig), and I worry that the same will happen with Cary. I do think Cary is a better fit for the franchise though, and I hope this incredible cast is rewarded with a stellar swan song for Craig.
5. Michael G. Wilson spouts fake news
Michael notably stated in this announcement that he couldn’t remember a time in which they had a title at a Bond announcement.
Errrrr….see below?? (I actually couldn’t find a press announcement where they didn’t have a title)
Whatever it is, it better not be “Eclipse.”
6. Bond will try to be politically correct
Perhaps the greatest strength of the Bond franchise is its ability to reflect the times in which it is made. The international political climate no doubt has an influence on the Bond franchise, and one of the most current issues is the “Me Too” movement. Now, along with not remembering a time in which they didn’t have a title at the announcement, I also can’t remember a time in which the Bond girls weren’t touted as strong or revolutionary. The most interesting characters aren’t written with agendas in mind. Monica Bellucci was wasted in “Spectre” because the only point the writers were trying to make was that Bond would be willing to lay down with an older woman. There was sadly no character development. Madeleine also fell flat as a character once she told Bond she loved him just two days after meeting him (in “Spectre”). And I’m sorry, but she also just doesn’t look or act like the type of girl that Bond would retire for. Again, the only point that the writers were trying to convey was that the modern Bond was not a complete misogynist, and would be willing to settle down with the right girl.
Which would be fine, if Madeleine had been written as a stronger character, and it hadn’t already been done before. It made no sense for Bond to try to settle down a third time, but that is how the writers wanted to attack Bond’s misogyny. They not only didn’t give Lea Seydoux the respect she deserved, but they didn’t respect the core of the character of Bond. Bond is not misogynistic by nature. We only have to go back three films to understand why he is the way he is. Nevermind “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” which most people haven’t seen; “Casino Royale” tells us everything we need to know. I’ll elaborate on a deeper character analysis of Bond in a later article, but I’d suggest re-watching the film if you are not a fan of the franchise purely because of the misogyny.
The “Me Too” movement has ruined roles for women. It has reinforced the narrative that all women are naturally strong and are to be respected regardless of whether or not they try to earn it. Poorly written female characters are touted as “strong” and “heroic” regardless of whether they are or not. I want the women of the Bond franchise (and any franchise, for that matter) to have great roles. Being a Bond girl should not make an actress less respected in the industry. At the same time, the franchise doesn’t have to radically change its titular character’s views towards women. If they want Bond to treat women differently, then the women must convince him to change his views. And not every Bond girl has to try to convince him – there can be the model-like Bond girls, the femme fatales (perhaps the most intriguing), and the capable ones that fit in perfectly with the mission.
A large part of Bond’s appeal with men is his success with women. And while it is undoubtedly a fantasy in many respects, its fantastical nature is what drives us to the movies. It’s important to let the core of who Bond is remain and allow those around him to change and influence him. Also, let’s not get too carried away with injecting political correctness into our fantasies.