Saturday, November 04, 2006

The once and future Bonds

Interesting featurette in the Sunday L.A. Times about the "rebooting" of the James Bond franchise (following the financially successful but critically drubbed Die Another Day) with Casino Royale. Helmer Martin Campbell -- who previously jump-started the series by introducing Pierce Brosnan as 007 in GoldenEye -- admits he wasn't entirely convinced at first that Daniel Craig could take over the superspy role. But that was before he realized the producers wanted to return to the gritty roots of the original Ian Fleming novel. Money quote: "[O]nce I saw where we were going, Daniel was the perfect fit for the story we were telling. The character in the books is much darker than he has been in the movies and that's what we've returned to. It's a more personal, more emotional story than we've seen Bond in before. Daniel has a sexuality that's very much in keeping with how Fleming saw the character."

I realize this is a minority opinion, but I've always felt that, up until now, Timothy Dalton came closer than any other actor to playing 007 as the ruthless SOB that Fleming originally envisioned. Unfortunately, his two Bond movies -- Licence to Kill and The Living Daylights -- were box-office underachievers. For the sake of the series and its longtime fans (and yes, I include myself in their number), I hope Casino Royale makes a bigger splash and comes up a winner.

On the other hand: I can remember a time when Pierce Brosnan was hyped as the new and improved 007...


ThinMe said...

But wait, how can you think about future Bonds without thinking of P Diddy? Don't you just immediately picture him when you think James Bond? No? Well, me neither, but apparently he has other ideas:

<<"One day the time will come for a black Bond and hopefully I can audition for it," U.S. rapper and entrepreneur Sean "Diddy" Combs said on the sidelines of the MTV Europe Music Awards late on Thursday.>>

Anonymous said...

Critically drubbed? I hoped maybe you'd be above engaging in some of the same revisionist history contortions as the Bond producers and much of the press. The last film had mixed reviews, like all Bond films (even the Connery ones were not univerally loved in their day)-- and better than the previous couple with 59% on Rotten Tomatoes and a score over 6. Not great but hardly a drubbing.

The same UK critics now gushing over the new Bond film and actor did the same with the last Bond film and actor. I think it's coded in their DNA. They're now just pretending they never said they liked the film before this one because it's different and they have to justify the change. Also all of a sudden the generally highly thought of -- saved a dying franchise from dwindling audiences who no longer cared about Bond (say what you will about Dalton, the audiences didn't like him) dubbed best Bond since Connery- Brosnan is now some supposedly some effiminate campy pansy who was never able to act and who was responsible for the bad scripts and worse CGI that the producers put out. It's embarrassing journalism and worse professional criticism.

Joe Leydon said...

Actually, I rather liked Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in "GoldenEye." Maybe he wasn't as bad-ass as Timothy Dalton, but he definitely was tough enough and suave enough for the role. And he had his moments in "Tomorrow Never Dies" and even "The World is Not Enough." But I'm sorry: "Die Another Day" was terible, even it it made zillions of dollars, and even Brosnan couldn't transcend it. (Fortunately, he was savvy enough to grab the lead role in "The Matador" and prove he didn't really need 007 anymore. I have been told by people whose opinions I trust that's he also pretty damn good in the upcoming "Seraphim Falls."

Anonymous said...

I thought Brosnan got better as Bond as the production of the films got messier (as if the success of him in the role made the producers lazier), though I prefer The World Is Not Enough to Goldeneye. I’m pleased to hear that about Seraphim Falls. When is it coming out? Brosnan was brilliant in The Matador and is a darned good and rather underrated actor.

My issue isn't whether Die Another Day was terrible or not, but that many of the critics (not you obviously from your review) who wrote they liked and even loved it are now saying it was terrible, that it was critically panned (it wasn't- it was mixed and quite positive in the UK) and the franchise needed to be "rescued". I expect that kind of revisionism from politicians but film critics? Of course critics can change their minds, most are only human and some probably get caught up in the excitement and hype of some films (and in the U.K. Bond films still inspire a frenzy) but they should say they changed their minds, just don’t pretend it was always that way. It reminds me of those Matrix Reloaded (and I’m still looking to get my $10 back for that one) reviews that were very positive and then later no one would admit to having said it was good. It’s too 1984.

It also feels like in the case of Casino Royale that many of the early reviewers and part of the press seem to be parroting the PR line of EON/Sony. I don't doubt that Craig will at least be capable but while one might expect Barbara Broccoli or even Martin Campbell to say such eye rolling stuff as "he's defined acting for his generation” and "not only is he the best actor to ever play the role but the other Bond actors would agree", some of the stuff coming of the early U.K. reviews seems just as hyperbolic and almost willfully ignorant and needlessly denigrating of the work of some of the previous actors. But then I recall the same hyperbole in the change over to Dalton from Moore and Brosnan from Dalton. No doubt Bond #7 will inspire the same.

Joe Leydon said...

"Seraphim Falls" is tentatively set to open in January in limited release.