Friday saw the release of the much-anticipated new Bond film, Skyfall. You can get the Failed Critics take on it in tomorrow’s Bond Special podcast – but so far critical and commercial consensus is that this is one of the best of the series.
So now that Bond is back on top, I can’t help but worry that Hollywood is going to fuck it all up in the way they did during the later Roger Moore films, and even more unforgivably with the piss-poor Die Another Day.
So here is my advice, gleaned from years of imaginary film production experience, on how not to fuck up the next Bond film.
1. Get a world-class director
Sam Mendes was a very interesting choice for Skyfall. The Oscar-winning director of suburban dramas American Beauty and Revolutionary Road hasn’t exactly got a track-record for the type of ‘Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang’ action required and expected from a Bond film (although Road to Perdition and Jarhead had their moments). It didn’t matter though, as Mendes (with cinematographer Roger Deakins) produced a sensational-looking film, and coaxed brilliant performances from the entire cast. Skyfall’s quiet moments definitely benefited from having someone like Mendes at the helm.
But with Mendes unlikely to direct the next Bond film, who should the producers turn to? Whoever it is, please don’t return to the days of the jobbing director whose role is more managerial than artistic. Bond is a premium brand once more, and it should be a job for the best directors currently working.
My choice would be one of Christopher Nolan (unlikely), Paul Greengrass (whose future with the Bourne series seems to be over), or Matthew Vaughn (currently one of the most talented directors working, and has shown he can handle a big studio film with X-Men: First Class).
2. Set the tone, don’t respond to it
What was so refreshing about Skyfall is that it had something to say about the way intelligence agencies operate in this new era of counter-terrorism. It offered us a camp, maniacal villain – but made it clear that ‘we’ created him. This was blurring-the-lines stuff, with moral ambiguity everywhere.
Bond needs to continue in this vein to remain relevant. A modern Bond should be dealing with issues like drone killings and illegal rendition – not returning to the dark days of ‘one-off man mentals’ (© Chris Morris) conjuring plans to destroy the entire world from their underwater bases.
3. Get the theme tune right
I know this might seem silly, but a Bond film can live or die by its theme. Die Another Day had a promising pre-credit sequence, but the moment the Madonna snoozefest of a tune kicked in you just knew the film was going to go downhill quicker than Roger Moore on skis chased by Russians.
Adele was a safe, yet credible choice for Skyfall – and the tune itself is as much homage to Bond tunes gone by as the film is to its predecessors. But please stay away from any future attempts to modernise the Bond theme. It should be classy, orchestral, and above all keep it well out of the hands of anyone who has appeared on a TV talent show.
This week’s suggested viewing:
DVD – This is a recommendation for those doing their best to avoid Halloween. Although I was more charmed by it than my Failed Critics colleagues, we all agreed that The Five-Year Engagement (out on DVD today) was a thoroughly decent modern rom-com, with some lovely chemistry between stars Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.
TV – Let the Right One In (2008), Film4, Wednesday 31October. I cannot recommend staying up for Tomas Alfredson’s debut highly enough. This Swedish horror is more than a blood and guts vampire film, it is a fine study of the alienation of a young boy growing up in a Stockholm suburb in the 1980s. This film will stay with you.
Lovefilm Instant – Who Saw Her Die (1972). The story of an estranged English couple in Venice recovering from the death of their daughter, and who get dragged into a murky underworld when they investigate the circumstances surrounding her death. No, this isn’t Don’t Look Now – in fact, this Italian giallo film was released a year before Nic Roeg’s horror classic, and is clearly (alongside other giallo films) a big influence on it. Ennio Morricone’s score is probably the scariest thing you will hear all Halloween
Netflix UK – Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010). Those who enjoyed The Cabin in the Woods’ deconstruction of the horror genre will surely enjoy this reworking of the classic ‘teenagers murdered by weird hillbillies’ theme. Tucker and Dale are two quite lovable hicks who are planning to enjoy a weekend away at their new cabin, but some smart-mouth teens nearby get the wrong idea and, well – chaos and hilarity ensues.