For Bond fans wondering what might lure Daniel Craig back for “Bond 25,” it just might be the opportunity for 007 to metaphorically save the world from the Orwellian nightmare of Trump, Putin, Brexit, and WikiLeaks.
At least that’s the hope of long-time Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have been hired to write the script for “Bond 25.” They’ve been on every Bond film since “The World is Not Enough” (1999), and recently adapted Len Deighton’s alt-history mini-series, “SS-GB” (BBC One).
“Each time, you’ve got to say something about Bond’s place in the world, which is Britain’s place in the world,” Purvis told the Telegraph last month. “But things are moving so quickly now, that becomes tricky. With people like Trump, the Bond villain has become a reality.”
Meanwhile, Craig’s resistance has definitely softened after proclaiming on the “Spectre” press tour that he’d rather “slit his wrists” than make another Bond.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve got the best job in the world,” Craig said at last year’s New York Film Festival. “I’ll keep doing it as long as I still get a kick out of it. If I were to stop doing it, I would miss it terribly.”
And as Bond co-producer, Craig would help shape the story by Purvis and Wade. So maybe, like Bond, he just needs a break before returning to active duty, putting on hold any notion of being succeeded by such leading contenders as Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender or Jack Huston.
That’s been the plan all along. Veteran half-sibling Bond producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (whose Eon Productions splits ownership with MGM) believe in Craig. They think there’s more drama to mine from his Bond, and are biding their time to lure him back (his contract has an option for a fifth film).
And in an effort to keep Craig creatively happy, Broccoli even produced last year’s well-reviewed New York production of “Othello” so that he could play Iago opposite David Oyelowo.
In addition, Craig’s made two movies (Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky” heist comedy and Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s “Kings,” the bi-racial love story set during the South Central riots of ’92 costarring former Bond girl Halle Berry), and is currently shooting the limited Showtime series, “Purity,” playing a white-haired German provocateur.
But, of course, “Bond 25” remains in limbo until Craig makes a decision — one way or another — probably later this year. That would also involve the choice of an A-list director to follow Sam Mendes (Oscar-contenders Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Denis Villeneuve and Susanne Bier come to mind). That would mean a 2018 start date for release in 2019.
It also means no distribution deal until there’s a Bond movie to greenlight. We’ll see if Sony (which claimed global success on four Craig films) renews or if Warner Bros., Fox, Universal, or another studio steps up to a “Bond 25” deal.
There’s not much studio profit to be made: the Bond owners reaped 75 percent on the last deal. Given MGM’s precarious financial situation (held together by private equity), and the fact that it unsuccessfully tried to entice Chinese investors late last year. this probably won’t be a long-term distribution deal.
Finally, Craig’s return as 007 comes down to a story that rekindles his passion for a fifth Bond, since “Spectre” ended with satisfying closure, as Bond happily rode off into the sunset with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) in his Aston Martin DB5.
Added Wade: “But for sure, ‘Spectre’ felt like it closed off a certain way of doing Bond. And I think whatever happens next will be quite different.”
For sure, fans have been clamoring for a less personal, less serialized Bond, and were taken aback at the way “Spectre” tied all of the Craig films into a quadrilogy ruled by Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), the author of his pain. But the next film offers a great opportunity for a more liberated, proactive Bond, unencumbered by the tragedies of the past.
Craig’s Bond could now become the 007 that Judi Dench’s M eventually saw in him. Not merely a blunt instrument always going rogue, but MI6’s best spy, who can analyze the intel and know when to pull the trigger — or not. And maybe have more fun.
And let’s not forget pride of ownership and legacy. The world has definitely changed since “Spectre.”
We need this Bond more than ever. “Shaken, not stirred.”