Shaken, Not Stirred

Bond franchise has run its course

 

Shaken and Stirred Out

It’s time the Broccolis and MGM let James Bond fade into history.

By Sean Willey

It’s one of the most popular phrases in Hollywood history, “Bond, James Bond.” However, after 22 films and six portrayals, the franchise’s originality may be hurting. From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, they all left us with enough martinis, gadgets and womanizing actions to last a lifetime, but, while Casino Royale was a necessary story to tell, as it told us Bond’s origins, the reboot of the series caused Bond to lose his individuality. The Bond franchise became an imitation of the Bourne franchise. It’s time to realize Bond’s story has come full circle. It’s a good time to let the franchise die.

When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Incorporated invested in James Bond in 1962, it had no idea it would last for over 45 years, become a cultural phenomenon and earn over $5 billion worldwide, according to the International Movie Database. Bond became one of the most pursued roles in Hollywood. According to BBC News, over 200 actors were considered for the role of Bond in Casino Royale.

Casino Royale came out in 2008, and was a reboot, showing Bond when he first became 007. All the movies before were basically movies about missions.

Not too long ago, MGM almost went bankrupt. Had this happened, the James Bond franchise would have stopped too. Spyglass Entertainment purchased the company though. Months of speculation allowed contemplations as to whether the series should end.   

The Broccolis completely shied away in Casino Royale from what made Bond a household name: the gadgets and the playboy attitude.What, a Bond without fancy watches, dart pens or one-liners? The only thing Bond’s car could do in Casino Royale was go 100 miles an hour, and show its flipping capabilities. The Bond movies were not true to their beginnings, and therefore the franchise lost its edge.

For example, the Batman franchise failed in 1997 because it became to over-the-top and comical. It wasn’t anywhere near the dark themes of Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns.

The rebooting of the Bond series was terrible from the standpoint that everything that made Bond unique in the past was gone. Casino Royale doescomplete Bond’s story though.

Since the first film, Dr. No in 1963, six different actors portrayed Bond. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig each gave unique insights into Bond’s personality. Six different styles are plenty to judge.

Everyone remembers their first. Who doesn’t remember their first girl/boyfriend and their first kiss? The majority remember Connery as the best Bond because he was the first. He had the ruggedness, sex appeal (they all did) and athleticism. Watch the underwater harpoon fight in Thunderball, and you’ll see rugged athleticism.  

I don’t consider Lazenby a portrayer of Bond. I don’t think many do. A model turned actor, Lazenby’s performance in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service caused such uproar that Connery returned for two more films.

Moore gave Bond a sense of humor. I laugh every time he slides down the stairwell shooting bad guys in Octopussy.

Dalton was the start of Bond’s cynicism. If anything, he was inspiration for Craig.

Brosnan, my favorite, was charismatic. Anyone remember in Die Another Day when he and Jinx (Halle Berry) first met on the beach? If only I had the courage to talk like that.

Craig was the merciless Bond. Casino Royale is loaded with scenes of Craig strangling people, jumping at them through buildings or blowing them up.

The producers, the Broccoli family, covered a wide range of character types: rough, agile, clever, suspicious, charming and hardhearted. These traits span 22 movies and over 2000 minutes. That is plenty of entertainment to let the franchise die with.

Returning to Bond’s early days in Casino Royale was necessary. Just like Darth Vader in Star Wars, we all wanted to know Bond’s beginning. However, it’s controversial because it’s not original.

Brosnan’s last film, Die Another Day, in 2002, was the same year Jason Bourne became a dominant force of merciless killing in American cinema. Many saw this obvious switch.

“When you strip the 007 films down for action and ‘realism,’ you lose the soul of those beloved old Bond movies – they might as well be Jason Bourne movies,” wrote Rob Gonsalves of efilmcritic.com.

I’m not writing this because Craig isn’t my favorite. I thought he played Bond with a convincing grittiness. I’m writing because Bond’s stories are not true to their beginnings anymore.

I know what you’re thinking. “Sean, there was another movie after Casino Royale.” You’re right, but Quantum of Solace was a ratings bomb- surprising considering the amount of hype surrounding the franchise after the highest grossing film of its history.  

However, sometimes you just need to remember the good times. Spider-Man 3 didn’t live up to its hype following the mega-blockbuster Spider-Man 2, but many still love the Spiderman movies.

In defense of the franchise, one bad egg can’t ruin the entire batch. Casino Royale was a great ending. It was the beginning. The Broccolis should be proud to end with such a great flick. Die Another Day showed Bond at his most sophisticated. Casino Royale showed Bond at his most innocent, and with an “I know all” mentality. From Dr. No to Casino Royale, fans had a complete view of the evolution of Bond

It’s tough to deny the continuation of a franchise that has seen so much success, but while Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig all gave us distinct tastes of what Bond should be the uniqueness of the series has disappeared. The story of James Bond must end with Quantum of Solace.

Do I want Bond to return? No, I expect him to die.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus