It’s crazy to think that when the 25th James Bond film premieres early next year, it’ll have been almost 5 years since the previous entry Spectre hit cinemas. That’s a year longer than the break between Die Another Day and the modern reboot Casino Royale. Looking back, it’s hard to imagine such a drastic shift in direction in such a short amount of time and now, little over a decade later, they can’t produce a simple sequel in that amount of time. Bond 25 has been struck with behind-the-scenes issues and had multiple scripts and directors attached, but now we’re finally in the home stretch with Cary Joji Fukunaga directing a script from long time Bond scribes Purvis and Wade. Lea Seydoux is confirmed to return as Madeline Swann and I think it’s fair to assume that Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld (and hopefully Mr Hinx) will also return. But what of the rest of the cast? What of the plot? Below are my hopes for what will likely be Daniel Craig’s final James Bond film.
My biggest hope for the next James Bond film is for it to lean into the well-worn Bond formula and have Bond actually go on a mission tasked to him by MI6 instead of going rogue. I know this is difficult and likely even impossible with the end of Spectre, which saw James driving off into the sunset with Madeline Swann to leave his MI6 career behind. I think we can take a reasonable guess that at the beginning of Bond 25, Madeline will be killed and Bond will head off on a revenge mission, not unlike License to Kill, which will bring him into conflict with MI6 before they ultimately team up in the end. The problem is that, unlike when it happened in License to Kill, this is no longer a novel idea and Bond has gone rogue in every single film starring Daniel Craig. He leaves the service in Casino Royale only to return when “the bitch is dead”. He goes rogue for most of Quantum of Solace only for M to start trusting him again for some reason by the end. He’s presumed dead in Skyfall before returning to his post only to secretly go off with M in the third act. And then he’s a rogue operative for the entirety of Spectre before leaving the service for good at the film’s conclusion. I just want one film where Bond works for MI6, is given a mission and heads out to perform it. Twists and turns can happen along the way but it’s been too long since we’ve seen the Bond formula in action.
This is a much smaller hope for Bond 25 but, and I say this without trying to sound like I just want formulaic Bond films like we had in “the good old days”, I want the third-act action set-piece to be an assault on the bad guy’s base. That kinda happened in Quantum of Solace with Bond and Camille infiltrating Dominic Green’s desert hotel but we haven’t seen it done properly since Gustav Graves’s plane in Die Another Day. The formula was cleverly flipped in Skyfall when the villains instead laid siege to Bond’s base of Skyfall Manor but it failed when they tried to do this again in Spectre; the last thirty minutes in-and-around the derelict MI6 building being a little dull. Sure, that film also gave us the fantastic scene of Bond covertly sneaking into a SPECTRE meeting in Rome and visiting Blofeld’s base of operations in Northern Africa but I wouldn’t count them as action bonanzas. The go-to examples are the hollow volcano in You Only Live Twice and the huge tanker in The Spy Who Loved Me and, while maybe not as bombastic as an invasion of hundreds of ziplining ninjas, something along the same lines would be cool.
Felix Leiter has been an important recurring character in the Bond canon since the very beginning when Jack Lord portrayed the character in Dr No, and I would love to see him return in Bond 25. Jeffrey Wright played CIA agent Felix in Craig’s first two films but has sat the last two out despite a brief mention of him in Spectre. Wright is now a much bigger star than he was when he was first cast thanks to his role as Bernard in the HBO series WestWorld. This means he’d be a bigger draw for audiences but might make an appearance in the film more difficult if he’s filming the third season of the show. From a story perspective, if Bond is a rogue agent and can’t rely on MI6 then his friend Felix would be the perfect aide. We had a taste of this in Quantum of Solace but – rightly – Mathis played that role for the majority of the film. If this is a revenge-focused film like License to Kill was, then it would be a cool twist to have Felix be James’s ally throughout considering Felix’s fate was the impetus of Bond’s rage in that earlier film.
The Bond franchise has had a wonderful array of music across its half-century lifetime and I’d love to see future Bond films hark back to some classic themes. I’m not talking about Marvin Hamlisch’s disco-inspired score for The Spy Who Loved Me or Bill Conti’s wonderfully bizarre music that accompanied For Your Eyes Only – although I love them both – but rather some of John Barry’s classic orchestral pieces. The theme from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is just as iconic as the main Bond theme and the track “007“, which was first heard in From Russia With Love and last heard all the way back in Moonraker, is fantastic. I’d love if either of these tracks were played for an extended period of time in the film but I think it’s more likely – and probably better – if we just hear a quick blast mixed in with the modern score. I like Thomas Newman’s music for Skyfall but was less impressed with Spectre; it just didn’t seem like there was anything new to the score. Newman’s work for the films was clearly inspired by Hans Zimmer, which worked for Skyfall because it was very clearly influenced by The Dark Knight, but overall I prefer David Arnold’s work on the series. The last two Bond films have been packed with cheeky references to many of the Bond films of old so I’m surprised there have been no musical motifs referenced as well. I hope that changes in the future. Not just with Bond 25 but with the franchise going forward.
What do you want to see from the upcoming Bond film and what do you make of my hopes? Let me know in the comments and geek out with me about TV, movies and video-games on Twitter @kylebrrtt.