James Bond: Now Hiring

Tina Turner sang the song, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” in one of the Mad Max films. The least interesting one in the series. So, with the release of Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film, having turned in his tuxedo and parked the Aston Martin, there certainly is speculation of what’s next in the Bond franchise.

I’m not going to promote any specific actors for the vacancy. My question is, do we need another secret agent? The notion of the post WWII Ian Fleming cloak and dagger concept seems awfully threadbare and of a very different time. How many espionage stories are there to tell?

I was a big Bond film fan up till the last Roger Moore Bond film. A View to a Kill was awful and a sad end to Moore’s service. I was never a Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan fan, so I’ll skip over those films. Craig saved the franchise with his dark, brooding, physical version of Bond. The world of cinema had changed a lot with so many superheroes patrolling the globe and with film franchises like Bourne and Mission Impossible having great success with international stories and top shelf special effects, in addition to very popular lead characters. James Bond was able to fend off Matt Helm and Harry Palmer in the 1960s and 1970s, but the spy universe is now very crowded.

We have heroes of every imaginable kind now. Is there a future for James Bond in this crowded field?

Bond was a male fantasy character, dashing, athletic, resourceful and able to bed any woman in sight. Bond films had one leg in realism and one leg in fantasy. With each passing film, the amount of fantasy increased, until it bordered on silly and had to be recalibrated (several times).

The hallmark male fantasy part of the character, Bond as love-god, has undergone necessary change. Looking at the Connery-Moore films, there’s a lot to cringe at. Well, it was a different. Maybe, but still not cool. How many women felt compelled to roll in the hay with 007? I’m reminded that some of these women were powerful villains. A few were powerful enough to resist melting after an evening with Bond, but they were the exception.

The first time we meet Bond on the big screen.
Bond’s first conquest.
The second.
The third.

Beginning with the Timothy Dalton films, Bond was less the bed-hopper, and women were less caricatures. No more Pussy Galores, and no, you weren’t dreaming. Bond even married (Diana Rigg), but she died and he continued on with barely a reference to her. As Roger Moore aged, the notion of him with very young women (Lynn Holly Johnson) was rather creepy.

We get hung up on who might be the next Bond rather than what or why. It seems to always start with names. Some of the names are Tom Hopper, Thomas Hardy, Richard Madden, James Norton, Regé-Jean Page, Idris Elba, Henry Cavill, Lashana Lynch.

On the Bond persona going forward. “It will have to be reimagined, in the way each actor has reimagined the role,” producer Barbara Broccoli told Esquire. “Next year we’ll start thinking about the future.”

Back to the question I raised earlier: are there still creative espionage stories to tell? There is no more Cold War, no global threat of communism, and Bond villains of old are cartoonish. The enemies of the West are not like they used to be, and certainly the threats are more economic, terroristic and biological. The events of 9/11 showed how a small, but well orchestrated band of radicalized and suicidal terrorists can inflict massive damage. How do you battle a weaponized fanaticism? Send in Rambo or the Terminator. No, let’s not.

Bond films seemed to up the ante each time, until Bond was in outer space with laser pistols. Barbara Broccoli is right about recalibrating the character with each actor. The shift from realism to fantasy and back again is a fluid one. Craig’s Bond seemed to reset the balance to more realism, while keeping global threat index on high.

My guess it that the Craig model will remain the template, although Bond will become younger and perhaps a different ethnicity. The sophistication will remain, but become more generational. Those predictions do not take Kreskin’s powers of the mind; Bond will be younger to match the desired demographic and reflect the current culture.

Thanks to comic books, TV and films, we expect our heroes to be much more than human. Craig’s Bond is going to be difficult to top. He straddled the thin line between fantasy and reality, well as close as any “hero” can these days.

How relevant is Bond as a member of MI6? Bond has always been a lone operative, that’s not really how the intelligence game works, although it is more heroic and is fanciful to an audience expecting superhero results in a human. Only in the Craig films did MI6 really have a place in the story.

Despite recent claims that nearly billion dollar grossing No Time to Die will lose $100m, in reality, Bond is a valuable brand. Creative accounting, is what Hollywood does best. There will be more Bond films, it’s a revenue stream, believe it. There is probably some algorithm that will determine who and what Bond will be.

“My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done. Such as, drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”


3 thoughts on “James Bond: Now Hiring

  1. You summed up my feelings when you said “With each passing film, the amount of fantasy increased, until it bordered on silly…” Even the highly touted Casino Royale (the one without Woody Allen!), that 10-minute action sequence at the beginning, with “the boys” sprinting up skyscrapers, had me rolling my eyes with ridicule. I couldn’t continue watching (maybe I’m just too old and cynical). But 007 rakes in a lot of bucks for a lot of people – studios and advertisers – so they’ll keep dragging out his moth-eaten tuxedo and rotting carcass as long as the gravy train lasts.

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  2. This made me laugh. Just seeing the title “James Bond: Now Hiring.” Funny.

    Question is: Should the studio hire anyone at this point? I felt the series went off the rails when it tried to compete with Tom Cruise and the MI franchise. It got too dark for my taste. But it can’t go back to being goofy, either, with all of the gadgets and such.

    A prefect James Bond, although he may be too old for it: Dylan McDermott. He’s on the new story arc of Law & Order: CI and he’s still rock solid. Although he’s not a “theatrical draw” these days. They need to go a bit younger to assure the actor sticks around a while to keep the franchise consistent.

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