30. December 2013 09:16
James Bond will return, but not in 2014. Back in July it was announced that the as yet untitled "Bond 24" is set for release in the UK on October 23rd 2015 and in the US on November 6th, 2015. Part of me was rather hoping that we would see a return to the steady release of a new James Bond film every two years, but I'd rather see a great Bond film every three years than an okay one every two. Hopefully that extra year will allow the writers to come up with something even better than Skyfall.
In the beginning, EON was cranking out a new Bond film every year: Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965). But back then, the stories had already been written. They needed to be adapted for the screen, but the villain and the plot were largely known in advance. Then, as Fleming's novels started to become less and less relevant to the changing world, more extensive rewrites were needed and the films were coming out steadily every other year: You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live And Let Die (1973). The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) followed only a year later and was arguably one of the weaker films in the series. Since Ian Fleming had only allowed the use of the title, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) had to be written from scratch and needed to be good to prevent the franchise petering out. Well worth the three year wait, The Spy Who Loved Me was followed every two years by a new film: Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), A View To A Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence To Kill (1989), until a legal battle prevented their being another new Bond film for six long years.
Pierce Brosnan brought new life to the role in Goldeneye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), but then the rather nonsensical plots of The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002) would be followed by a major reboot of the franchise in 2006. A four year wait, but such a great film! Casino Royale was followed only two years later by the mediocre Quantum of Solace (2008). The bankruptcy of MGM meant another four year wait for Skyfall (2012), which broke all sorts of records and became the highest grossing James Bond film of all time. As a result of all the legal and financial battles being fought behind the scenes, along with the need to write new stories from scratch, the second 25 years of James Bond (1988-2012) saw only 8 movies, while the first 25 years saw 15.
The moral of the story seems to be that - at least since they started writing their own stories - if we wait a little longer, we usually get a better movie, so I'm okay with waiting the extra year. The real draw back to making a new film every three years, is that the star might age too quickly. Sean Connery was only thirty-two when he made Dr. No (though he looked 40!), and he made six films in 9 years. By 1971s Diamonds Are Forever, his toupée combined with his expanding waistline would probably have seen him departing the role soon after, even if he had wanted to keep it. Remarkably, Roger Moore is three years older than Sean Connery and assumed the role at the age of 45. By his own admission, Moore felt he was getting "a bit too long in the tooth" for the role by 1981, but was persuaded to stay until 1985, finally retiring from the role at the age of 57 and after starring in seven 007 films. By A View To A Kill I think we can all agree that he was really starting to look too old and seemed to be more of a stand-in for his stuntmen rather than the other way around...
Daniel Craig was 38 when Casino Royale was released, will be 47 by the time Bond 24 hits theaters and would be 50 in Bond 25 if that follows three years later. I remember the Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton years fondly, as they were the Bond's I grew up with, but I think Craig is by far the best 007 since Sean Connery and it saddens me to think that he may only have one or two more chances to play the role.
Is this the future of James Bond? If there is a new film roughly every 3 years, and each star can play the role for only 10-12 years, then there will be a search for a new James Bond roughly every 4 films. I guess that's not so bad. If the quality remains high, and the talent strong I look forward to the next 25 years (and two incarnations) of James Bond.