After keeping millions of fans waiting for almost three years, this November 007 returns to our screens in Spectre, the 24th instalment of the most successful movie franchise of all time. Inspirational Magazine explores the character’s development and what we can expect from the second Bond film to be directed by Sam Mendes.
James Bond may have been a silver screen regular for over 50 years since Sean Connery brought him to life in 1962’s Dr. No, but age has by no means wearied him. After so many dust-ups, car chases, shootouts and brief love affairs, not to mention the odd narrowly averted apocalypse, one could be forgiven for thinking the British secret agent might be showing signs of fraying at the edges, yet Daniel Craig has led something of a renaissance for the Secret Service’s most dynamic resource.
Taking over the reins from Pierce Brosnan for Casino Royale in 2006, Craig is currently putting the finishing touches to Spectre, his fourth Bond movie and second collaboration in the role with Sam Mendes. Critics have praised the British actor for the way he has returned the 007 character to a closer approximation of Sean Connery’s original on-screen interpretation.
Bond’s evolution has come full circle and is arguably now as faithful as ever to the agent portrayed in Ian Fleming’s hugely successful series of books. While Connery brought confidence and masculinity to the role either side of George Lazenby’s brief tenure in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore had the good sense not to try to beat the Scot at his own game and took 007 in a more light-hearted direction.
Connery returned briefly in 1983 for Never Say Never Again, the only Bond film not to be made under the auspices of Eon Productions, before Moore’s curtain call in A View To A Kill and, as both actors began to show their age, the Bond brand looked in need of a little reinvigoration.
Timothy Dalton certainly delivered on that score. The Living Daylights was a hit with the critics and at the box office and the Shakespearean actor brought 007 back down to earth with an earnest portrayal that moved away from his predecessors’ renowned promiscuity. His second outing in Licence To Kill revealed a vengeful streak not seen before in Bond, and one taken even further by Daniel Craig almost twenty years later, but as a result of legal disputes Britain’s most secretive of secret agents went under deep cover for a full six years.
The franchise was revived, however, by Pierce Brosnan, who for many was born to play the role.
He had the looks and all the requisite charm in spades and the Irishman was able to bring back some of the debonair humour of Roger Moore. With the Cold War over Brosnan’s character was pitted against a variety of foes during his four film stint and the advances made to computerised special effects moved the franchise into the 21st century.
The timeless figure of Bond, created by Fleming on his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, had invented the spy movie genre single-handedly and, despite a series of pretenders over the years, finally faced serious competition from Matt Damon’s gritty Jason Bourne trilogy. Producers looked to revitalise the series with some steeliness mixed with a few of the flaws the rest of us mere mortals are forced to bear. They turned to Cheshire born Daniel Craig and the franchise couldn’t now be in ruder health.
The decision to cast Craig as 007 met with criticism when it was first announced in 2005, with many claiming he was ‘too short and too blond’ to fit in with the Bond archetype, but he soon won over the doubters with Casino Royale. The character now has cold-hearted moments, as demonstrated when he dumped a dead friend in a skip in Quantum of Solace, and his capacity to withstand torture is frightening but Craig has also made him more believable. For the first time Bond is a man we can all relate to.
This new realism is reflected in the box office. While critics recognise Craig as the finest actor to have taken on the role, the public has voted with its feet, filling cinemas the world over and seeing Skyfall
become the first Bond film to make over $1 billion. That the film also won two Oscars in 2012 for Best Original Song and for Best Sound Editing, and gleaned three further nominations, is a sign that at long last 007 has retaken his place among celluloid royalty.
As the hype now builds around the release of Spectre, speculation is rife. We know from the title that writers John Logan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are tipping a hat to many of the earlier films by bringing back the shadowy criminal organisation of the same name. Being the 24th instalment of a franchise that has consistently turned out movies for over half a century, there is pressure to avoid the storylines and characters feeling stagnant while Daniel Craig has stated the goal is to “reclaim some of the old irony, and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche.”
Boasting a stellar cast including Christoph Waltz as 007’s quarry, Monica Bellucci playing the essential Bond girl and Ralph Fiennes reprising the role of M once again, the film is burning with potential. With a guarantee of spectacular set-pieces and covert intrigue, it won’t be long until we find out whether Bond’s latest outing lives up to the treat served up by Sam Mendes in Skyfall.
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