Whispers of a new actor taking up the role of James Bond have slowly quietened to be replaced by rumours of a reinforced commitment of Daniel Craig to the character. Although Craig has portrayed a mesmerising Bond, his films have alternated between terrific and turgid. With the most recent outing Spectre particularly disappointing, the team behind the next film will be looking to recapture the flair that made Casino Royale and Skyfall so engrossing.
As reported on this site back in September, a substantial sum of money will likely unite Craig with producer Barbara Broccoli for the next film. Other than that, little is known about what will be a staggering 25th instalment in the franchise. Part of Casino Royale’s charm was that it refreshed the Bond series and truly brought the iconic character into the 21st century. With Craig set to reprise the role, the next film will not have the benefit of the allure of a new Bond. However, a change of actor is not necessary. Craig has established a character with clear and interesting boundaries, and if his heart is still in it then he will want to go out with a bang in a way that Spectre could not provide.
From the gripping introduction into the title sequence, Casino Royale is a breathless ride. The stunts are daring and set to memorable backdrops, while Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd is an interesting balance to Craig’s inscrutable Bond. Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre is a suitably unnerving villain, with that torture scene surprisingly graphic and a testament to Bond’s endurance in the face of grave danger. Perhaps the most unlikely success from the film is the intrigue and suaveness imbued in the casino scenes.
Of course, the next Bond film cannot rely too heavily on 007’s poker skills or Bond 25 would merely become Casino Royale 2. He can’t visit a casino again but perhaps the secret agent could instead indulge his love of games by using oddschecker’s casino bonus advice to uncover the best online sign-up offers. It would be difficult to incorporate a classic car chase into that plot, but an online casino would certainly fit Bond’s method of trying to achieve goals in the most direct way possible.
This may be said slightly in jest, but the sentiment of keeping Bond in today’s online-centric era remains. Likewise, the next film cannot ape Skyfall’s memorable denouement in which Bond has to defend his house with all the panache of a young Macauley Culkin. But the next film must tap into the spirit that made Casino Royale and Skyfall so thrilling. Bond is a character that is essentially guaranteed to both survive the horrors of the film and ultimately save the day. The audience knows this, but forgives this inevitability if the stakes are high enough and the journey is sufficiently intriguing.
If Bond 25 is to stand out from the first 24, it must commit to a theme. As mentioned above, Casino Royale’s dedication to the casino theme is its strength, with the machinations of the main characters a reminder of the mental side of poker as Bond seeks to mentally outmanouevre his enemy and his supposed allies. Skyfall is so effective as an action thriller because it has unrelenting momentum towards its finale, with a villain intent on unravelling Bond as a person the perfect foe to instigate the emotional scenes at the film’s conclusion.
Spectre was always going to struggle to follow Skyfall, but its disappointment was unprecedented. Forbes called it “the worst 007 movie in 30 years”, and they were not alone in delivering a damning assessment. Spectre was intent on replicating its predecessor, and this was its downfall. Its perils were all too familiar to have any weight, and its villain, played by the usually excellent Christoph Waltz, fell between imitation and parody of Javier Bardem’s chilling foe from Skyfall.
Overlong and over-reliant on the strengths of previous Bond outings, Spectre would be a sour end to Craig’s time as 007. Bond 25 is a milestone movie, and it will be expected to be iconic. If it is to succeed then the team behind the film will have to discover a new angle to keep the character fresh. With casinos and straight-up action thrillers off the table, the next Bond film will need to innovate to breathe life back into the franchise.
A rumoured director for the film is Christopher Nolan, someone with an impressive filmography including The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception. Nolan’s films are renowned for challenging what is safe and predictable, and his vision could be the best thing to happen to the Bond franchise since Craig first took the role in Casino Royale.