Bond is still in safe hands

Danny Boyle may have left, but Daniel Craig cares more about 007 than we give him credit for,

Empire (UK) - - THE AGENDA - says Chris He­witt

WHEN IT WAS an­nounced in Au­gust, via a very care­fully worded state­ment, that Danny Boyle had “de­cided to no longer di­rect Bond 25”, the im­me­di­ate per­cep­tion was that this was a bad thing for the fu­ture of the long­est-run­ning fran­chise in movie his­tory. That with Boyle the risk-taker gone, it would be the same old Bond. De­pend­able and for­mu­laic.

I’m not so sure that’s the case. As those “cre­ative dif­fer­ences” (for all we know, Boyle might have been ad­vo­cat­ing a scene where Bond laser beams off his own testes while high on horse steroids) be­gan to man­i­fest them­selves dur­ing the film’s pre-pro­duc­tion, it’s pos­si­ble pro­duc­ers Bar­bara Broc­coli and Michael G. Wil­son were faced with a de­ci­sion. They could have cast a dif­fer­ent ac­tor (insert Idris Elba here), and en­trust Boyle to re­boot a fran­chise that will need re­boot­ing re­gard­less. In a way, this would have been the eas­ier op­tion. But it looks likely they went the other way. The harder way.

Let’s make one thing clear: Daniel Craig doesn’t need to make Bond 25. And while there may be sev­eral mil­lion rea­sons why he came back for one last crack at the role, I don’t think he did this for the money. At a cer­tain point, you’ve got enough. I think he’s com­ing back be­cause he’s haunted by a spec­tre. Namely, Spec­tre. There’s a per­cep­tion — there’s that word again — that Craig doesn’t have a lot of af­fec­tion for Bond. Af­ter all, he’s the guy who once glibly said that he’d “rather slash my wrists” than pick up a Walther PPK again.

But Craig is pas­sion­ate about Bond. The char­ac­ter, and the fran­chise. He’s not the first Bond to wield power be­hind the scenes, but there’s a rea­son why he is the first to bag a pro­duc­ing credit on these movies. He’s in­tensely, deeply in­volved in shap­ing the story of these movies. Which is why I think he’s de­ter­mined to atone for Spec­tre. Sam Mendes’ movie is still liked by many, and for me has a crack­ing first hour be­fore fall­ing off a cliff, but over time its rep­u­ta­tion has faded. It felt bloated, mis­guided, overly dour. It did well at the box of­fice (sec­ond only to Sky­fall in the se­ries’ his­tory), but is largely seen now as a step back. And it takes Craig’s suc­cess ra­tio in the role to 50 per cent. Two crack­ers — Casino Royale and Sky­fall — and two slack­ers, in Quan­tum Of So­lace and the 24th Bond.

So I be­lieve Craig wants to have one more bite at the cherry. He wants to tip the scales in favour of the crack­ers, so when­ever peo­ple dis­cuss their favourite Bond ac­tors years from now, they don’t wrin­kle their noses when his name comes up. “Yeah, Casino Royale was good, but…” He wants to go out on an all-time high.

It’s a gam­ble. Get this film wrong, and his­tory won’t be kind to Craig’s Bond. Get it right, and he’ll be for­ever men­tioned in the same breath as Con­nery. No pres­sure.

Above: Daniel Craig as 007, a role he wants to con­tinue. For now. Be­low: Danny Boyle is no longer di­rect­ing Bond 25.

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