Bond 23 is set to undergo production this year, following delays due to MGM’s financial predicament. Sam Mendes is said to be slated to direct the film with Daniel Craig said to reprise his role as 007 for a third time.
Joining him will be Judi Dench who returns as M and Ralph Fiennes is also rumoured to be joining the cast, although it hasn’t been confirmed yet. There was talk of Olga Kurylenko reprising her role as feisty Bond girl Camille, but nothing has been confirmed.
But the one rumour that is certain to get fans excited is that Javier Bardem is set to play the Bond villain. If this is true then this is a coup of biblical proportion for the franchise. Once again no official word yet as to whether Bardem has signed on to the film or not.
First of all it is great to hear that Daniel Craig is returning. He has given the franchise a real shot in the arm with his gritty portrayal of Bond. He has brought emotion to what was turning into a farcical comic figure. Gritty realism has replaced the smart-alec one liners and the gadgets have taken a back seat to the action.
Sam Mendes may seem like the perfect fit, but the problem with the Bond franchise is not that it needs to go further with the realism but instead needs to take a slight step back. Not to the jokey portrayal of the gigolo in a romper suit of Pierce Brosnan but to a more Connery blend of smarm with action.
Mendes will no doubt bring his bag of tricks but my main worry with him is the same worry that I had with Marc Forster. Great directors in their own right but not right for the Bond franchise. My first choice would have been Martin Campbell he just seems to have it nailed when it comes to Bond.
Naturally there is a very good reason for this. Campbell directed several episodes of The Professionals in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He really had the espionage action genre nailed down. He knew how to get the best out of the two leads especially Lewis Collins who has traits not too dissimilar from Craig.
He appreciated the screen presence that Craig brings and wasn’t afraid to leave the camera in one place long enough to bring that out in Casino Royale. Critics argue it was too long of a film, yet that was the beauty of the film, it told a story, it took Bond on an emotional journey of discovery and along the way he got his ass kicked and kicked some ass. Campbell allowed the plot to ferment which was brave and paid off.
This was the biggest problem with Quantum of Solace. It never got going because we weren’t given an opportunity to delve into the soul of 007. There was a flurry of fancy camera work and slick segues, but it felt like Dale Winton’s supermarket sweep at times. In the sum of it, Marc Forster tried too hard.
That is my worry with Mendes; he comes with this big reputation and is now taking on this gargantuan task of helming a Bond film. He may end up trying too hard and leaving the audience stirred as opposed to shaken.
I hope I’m wrong, I really think that there is so much mileage still to be had from Craig’s Bond and the franchise can really go from strength to strength and with whispers of Javier Bardem taking on the role of Bond villain, this could just about put Casino Royale in the shade, IF done right.