Tuesday, 16 July 2013

What should we expect for Bond 24?

It's official. Following the phenomenal success of Skyfall, Sam Mendes will return to helm the twenty-fourth James Bond film, which will be released in the UK on 23rd October 2015. With the film over two years away, already social media sites and tabloids have been buzzing with speculation about what sort of film we can expect. Fortunately we can dismiss the suggestion that Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care will form the basis of the next film. (If in the very unlikely event that a continuation novel will be filmed, let it be an early John Gardner, such as Icebreaker (a brilliant title) or Nobody Lives Forever (one of the most exciting of Gardner's Bonds)). More realistically, just what sort of film can we expect for Bond 24?

For a clue to what Bond 24 will look like, we have to look at the patterns of what has gone before. With John Logan returning for writing duties, we should expect a film that combines spectacle and action with emotional depth. There will be some traditional elements too. Bond's surrogate family – Moneypenny and Q, who rejoin M – is now back in post, and M's wood-panelled office seen at the end of Skyfall, which recalls the office of Bernard Lee's M, hints at a more conventional style of briefing. But don't expect the new M to be any less hands-on than his predecessor. As I've suggested in an earlier post, M's expanded role in recent films has in part reflected increasing political oversight of intelligence services, as well as advances in technology, allowing easier and more direct communication between individuals and closer tracking of agents. We may not see Mallory travel so extensively as his predecessor did, but there's a fair chance that he'll still be paying close attention to Bond's mission.

I think there'll be more humour in Bond 24, but the witty one-liners will continue to be underplayed. Those looking for a big film with less introspection and a greater sense of fun might not be disappointed, though. Across the series, the Bond films have tended to follow a trajectory of ever increasing scale as each film attempts to out-do its predecessor, followed by a purge as the series goes back to basics and the cycle is reset. Casino Royale represents a back-to-basics Bond, but it is arguable whether it marks the start of a new cycle. Certainly, both Quantum of Solace and Skyfall had bigger budgets than Casino Royale, but their plots have seemed somewhat limited in scope. The threat posed by Dominic Greene's plot is not fully realised, robbing audiences of a 'ticking bomb' denouement, while Raoul Silva's plans are focused on destroying individuals, not nations. That said, the simple desire to better the success of Skyfall might encourage the production team to think big and induce the sort of plot that gets Blofeld out of bed in the morning.

What about the one of the contentious aspects of the Craig era – the absence of the gunbarrel sequence from the start of the film? I don't have the figures, but I wonder whether its absence is contentious only to the relatively narrow constituency of Bond aficionados. For the casual Bond fan, or those introduced to Bond via Daniel Craig's films, I'd be surprised if its placement at the end of the last two films is an issue, and I don't remember any newspaper review of Skyfall bemoaning the gunbarrel's absence from the start. As much as it pains me to suggest it, I expect the gunbarrel to be kept at the end of the film. The gunbarrel at the start of the film was once very well established, but as soon as the sequence was significantly altered for Casino Royale, the spell was broken, making it easier to alter and relocate the sequence for subsequent films. While the association between the start of the film and the gunbarrel sequence has weakened, the association between the sequence and the end of the film has become stronger, and it now seems just as appropriate to close a film with the sequence as open it.

As for story, inspiration as usual will be drawn from the pages of Ian Fleming's novels. There's still plenty of unfilmed material, and my hope is that we'll see something based on the short story 'Octopussy', ideally with a bit of skiing thrown in. I'd like 'The Hildebrand Rarity' to be used as the title of Bond 24, but I fear I will be disappointed.

All this is idle speculation, but clues to what we can expect of Bond 24 are more likely to be offered by the films that immediately precede it than the films that date further back. The Bond films are not nostalgia-fests (which is one of the reasons why we are able to discuss the 24th film in the series), and the series has adapted with the changing times, being influenced as much by the prevailing cultural environment as influencing it. The series may not manage to bring all Bond fans with it (nothing wrong with that, of course), but it gains many new fans, who help keep James Bond alive into the next generation.

11 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Could be. With all the legal wrangling out of the way, it's about time he showed up again.

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  2. I'm glad that Same Mendes and John Logan have signed on for Bond 24. And I too have speculated elsewhere that perhaps it's time to bring back SPECTRE, because, let's face it, 'Quantum' sounded like a skin-care company. Ideally, Bonds 24 and 25 filmed back-to-back, with a huge and epic story arc would be ideal, but I realise I'm perhaps asking too much.
    Still, it'll be interesting to see how (or indeed if) Mendes and Co will match, or better, "Skyfall". Definitely a hard act to follow, but Sam Mendes showed an understanding and respect for Bond and his world, so I think it just may be achievable.
    Here's hoping.

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  3. I think that Barbara Broccoli has really screwed up the continuity that she was setting up. Craig's Bond goes from rookie agent in CR to 'old dog' in Skyfall. I am one of the few Craig detractors these days. I watched Bourne Legacy the other night and enjoyed it much more than Skyfall. The agent in Bourne and Bond had no difference IMO. Bond has lost the elegance piece that was always a part of Cubby's productions.

    Edward, love the blog. I humbly request some posts on your research about almost Bonds. I am particularly interested in the casting of Bond for The Living Daylights. I know that Helfenstein most likely went into it in his book but would love your take.

    Regards,
    Jason


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  4. You right about IceBreaker, when I first read it, reminded me of OHMSS. Especially the death scene of Bond's ally. Most likely it would be too expensive to make these days.

    Thanks again,
    Jason

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  5. @ Jason, I agree that Bond's Double-O status learning curve was pretty short, but I tend to take these films on their individual merits anyway. Continuity in the Bond universe is a shaky thing.
    And yes, "Icebreaker" would make a great Bond film. We've never seen Bond properly partnered up with another agent. Forget Wai-Lin and Jinx Jordan, please.

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  6. Thanks for the comments. Re. the continuity, I'm with teeritz on this - each film (except QoS) is pretty much stand-alone, so we shouldn't read too much into the lack of continuity. In any case, Bond had been shot and then took unauthorised leave for a undisclosed amount of time to recover and drink, so naturally he would have had some work to do to get 'match fit'.

    As for Bourne, I have to say I don't like the films very much, mainly because I think the basic idea of an agent with amnesia is a weak one (isn't it a remake of Long Kiss Goodnight?), and it's repeated for another two films. Also, the CIA seems to have no shortage of useless assasins. They might as well employ Jaws. I agree the kinetic style of Bourne has been adopted to some extent by Bond, but Bourne did change the landscape, and if Bond hadn't adapted, the films would have looked slow and decidely old fashioned. Anyway, one could argue that Eon was there first with the fast-cutting style of Peter Hunt and OHMSS. I agree, Jason, that what in part defines Bond is its elegence, but I don't think the Bond films have lost it. Casino Royale is very elegent, and there were some very sumptious scenes in Skyfall.

    By the way, glad you like the blog, Jason. I've written various posts about the 'men who would be Bond'. Reading Helfenstein, one has to be careful about the names he mentions. Some of actors cited by John Glen weren't actually screentested. This is ongoing research!

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  7. Thanks for the prompt response. I just finished Glen's book recently, Helfenstein's book is too rich for my blood. Glen has two aussies Andrew Clarke and Finley Light being tested and of course Sam Neill and Pierce. Your article with Greenstreet was awesome and contributed much to the research. Question, which actor that Glen mentioned were not tested. He (Glen) mentioned Trevor Eve being considered but didn't say tested.

    Sorry to be off topic a little.

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  8. Teeritz has a point about filming back to back stories especially in light of Craig's age. I I think he will be 48 when he plays JB again.

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    Replies
    1. Wouldn't it be great? Some big, sprawling, fate-of-the-world storyline with a cliff-hanger ending for the first film, and an 'all-hope-is-lost' story arc by the first hour of the second film. Paint Bond into the tightest corner of his life/career and then watch him get himself out of it.
      Ah well...

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  9. http://jamesbondmemes.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-making-of-living-daylights-review.html

    Never mind. Got it.

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