Thanks Dan, it’s been a great ride. Time for a younger Bond – with laughs, please.
No Time to Die is the 25th addition to the James Bond franchise. It’s also Daniel Craig’s fifth and final time as the most famous advocate of shaken martinis.
Debate is raging over the most likely actors to slip into Craig’s black suit, ranging from the obvious to rank outsiders. Bookmakers have Tom Hardy as the odds-on favorite however a non-white or even female Bond has been suggested.
First of all, hats off to Daniel Craig. Respect.
He breathed fresh air into James Bond back in 2006 in Casino Royale as a no-nonsense and flawed 007. He wasn’t pretty, he loved a drink and a made a very believable tough guy.
It looked like he had thrown a few punches in his time and been on the receiving end of a few hidings.
This was at a time when the franchise was on shaky ground. Previously Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton had given their all for Queen and Country, however had failed to set the box office on fire.
Both looked great in a suit and displayed glimpses of dry wit, however lacked the presence or swagger of their predecessors Moore and Connery.
Brosnan looked more like a overdressed banker and Dalton looked as threatening as a few limp sticks of asparagus.
Craig was what the franchise needed. The bar was set high from Casino Royale and Craig’s films have enjoyed considerable critical and commercial success.
The Bond Movie was becoming a series of superfluous inventions and fanciful CGI set pieces. Yawn. Bond was in danger of becoming a caricature of himself.
Craig gave Bond substance and depth and delivered us a taciturn and rugged agent not seen since the golden days of Sean Connery.
The franchise gained a much-needed edginess.
However, as the 53 year-old has acknowledged, it’s time to move on.
Specifically, it’s time for not just a fresh face but a fresh feel. A few laughs wouldn’t hurt either and better-choreographed fight sequences.
Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is remaining tight-lipped until 2022 but dropped a hint when she said “James Bond can be of any colour, but he is male.”
Broccoli dodged the chauvinist bullet by going on to say that she wanted strong female characters to be written into the series.
So – a man and most likely from the British Isles.
This unfortunately rules out Oprah Winfrey.
Who then, is best poised to take over at the wheel of Aston Martin’s DB5?
If a non-white Bond is rumoured to be a strong chance, then Elba ticks most of the boxes.
At 189 cm (almost 6 foot three) he has the requisite physicality and gravitas. Whether strolling to the blackjack table or choking out a vile assassin, Elba will effortlessly look the part.
He would also bring a noble intelligence to the role and a sense of wisdom through a life lived.
It’s this final attribute which could go against Elba – his age. He’ll be 50 next year and while Daniel Craig is currently 53, he is finishing. As great as Elba would be, he might be just a tad long in the tooth to regenerate the machine that is Bond.
The obvious yet wrong choice for several reasons.
First the obvious – he looks exactly like the James Bond that Ian Fleming envisaged while scribbling away on the Jamaican beaches. Suave, manly and tough. Very much in the Connery mold.
Hardy has more than demonstrated his physical capabilities in Legend, Venom and Mad Max. This we know. He’s also shown the ability to rein it in and expose vulnerability as we saw as the executive with his life unravelling in Locke.
If a complete overhaul is the way forward for Bond though, it cannot be Hardy.
His Bond will serve up a brooding machismo not unlike what we’ve already seen with Craig. Looks the part yes, but is it new? There’s the fear that Hardy might take himself a little bit seriously which isn’t what we’re after.
Plus, there’s his age. Hardy is 44 and Craig kicked off Casino Royale when he was 37. There’s not as much room to build a recurring character around.
Maybe what we’re looking for is someone who conveys a sense of mischief and unpredictability.
Which brings us to the main candidates.
Hiddleston satisfies the traditionalists by acting and sounding quintessentially British. And he’s tall at 188 cm (six feet two).
Action credentials? Check. Ability to play things left of center? Check.
Hiddleston landed the role of Loki in Thor due to his playful spontaneity, which won over director Kenneth Branagh. It’s this ability to play the rogue that could inject some long overdue color and fun into 007.
An actor who doesn’t take things too seriously could be a seriously welcome change to the franchise. Just look for his Owen Wilson impersonations on Youtube.
The Malaysian-born Brit brings plenty of suave to the MI6 headquarters. The first non-white James Bond would be a positive nod to a contemporary Britain and would likely attract legions of new fans to the genre.
He first came to our attention in Crazy Rich Asians as a cashed-up playboy – not a massive leap from a certain Brit spy. Then in Snake Eyes Golding reveled in the physical side and showed an amazing athleticism in his fight sequences.
As the Bond series and the action genre in general has evolved, so too has the detail to fight scene choreography. Audiences expect authentic-looking, explosive violence and Golding looked more than comfortable in handing out ass kickings en masse.
However he really came under the spotlight with a terrific turn in Guy Ritchie’s The Gentlemen.
His cocky, motor-mouthed banter with a bemused Matthew McConaughey is exactly what we need from the next Bond.
Upbeat, cheeky and never dull.
Not only nice on the eyes, but also nice on the fists and the banter. It might be an irresistible package.
Rege Jean Page
Page simply exudes cool – to this, Bridgerton fans can attest. All 180 cm of him, in fact. However as physically suited as he may be for Bond, it’s his effortless charm that could really give the franchise a shake-up.
Page has an openness and likeability that immediately engages people. His Bond would be youthful, quick-witted and relatable. He’ll always love his martinis but this one would also be partial to a pint with his pals. A special agent who could overpower a foe verbally or physically.
And he would be very British.
The next James Bond should and will be quite different. While the franchise has found new life during the Craig era, it’s time for a reboot.
After the most trying of times, people are through with dark, moody anti-heroes.
It’s time to have some fun again.