Forget climate change, Donald Trump and Brexit - there’s a far more important issue which needs sorting out - James Bond.
This week saw the unveiling of the latest in the yawn-inducing, anachronistic cliche-fest which sees the titular British secret agent battle the dark forces of our world to save the day.
The most recent ‘Bond’ comes in the form of Daniel Craig, who emerged from the sea in tight blue swim pants and toned torso in 2006 to claim the role as his own.
Craig’s Bond involves lots of running, jumping, some fairly nasty close-combat fight scenes (he’s still got nothing on The Stath) and usually at some point destroying large parts of scenery, while still managing to ‘get the girl’ and sign off with a glib remark.
I like Action Bond. He is much more engaging than his predecessors, although Pierce Brosnan’s opening in Goldeneye, which marked a step change in how the films were imagined, still ranks near the top in terms of capturing what Bond is.
The wake-up call for the Bond franchise came in the form of the Bourne Identity (2002), a visceral, life-death fight and flight rampage which put the audience front and centre and pretty much ended the glib, suave Moore/Connery portrait of Ian Flemming’s ever resourceful intel operative. 9/11, two wars in Iraq and the emergence of global terrorism in the real world also no doubt played their parts.
And nowadays we have Ant Middleton, the ‘thinking soldier’, to swoon over. Which is why enlisting Daniel Craig to do Bond again was a mistake. His character arc, from Casino Royal, through Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre, already feels complete. Craig should have resisted the role and handed the Walther PPK to someone (anyone) else.
Right now, Bond needs the same kind of paradigm shift that came with Goldeneye. The franchise thrives on its darker, bleaker edge, where loyalties fade in and out of the shadows.
Possibly, then, the best thing Craig could hope for in Bond 25 is that his character actually dies. The shock end of Avengers: Infinity War introduced a rare sense of realism and if that taught us anything, it's that audiences are craving the unknown.
We already know Bond is not just one character but many. So why not dispense with the banality of a Bond who somehow survives all? What would be mindblowing - nay, revolutionary - is if Craig’s character is dispatched in the opening scene, making way for a new 'Bond'. What a coup that would be for the producers! How interesting for the writers. It might even be the biggest thing to ever happen to Bond. Not only would it add much needed realism to the franchise and invigorate audiences, it might even do to the action genre what Bourne did to Bond all those years ago.