Took a day off all forms of writing yesterday, because occasionally even I like to not worry about output. Then I went with Mr Alt to the Royal Albert Hall and watched Casino Royale scored by a full orchestra (plus David Arnold on guitar) and was in the same place (briefly) as Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. I continue to maintain that this is the best Bond movie ever made. After 11 years it stands up incredibly well to scrutiny, which is more than you can say for many of its predecessors. A long (bar based) conversation was had over the merits of 50 plus years of the Franchise, agreement that most of the ‘best’ movies are undoubtedly products of the age in which they were made. This movie is dated by its electronics, as has been the case for decades. That Sony Vaio laptop… plus so many mobile phones. Ah, nostalgia.
However, as a writer, the progression and eventual denouement of this movie are the most satisfying of any that precede it, and that really matters. You’re also given motivation for a series of four movies that follow and, like it or not, that ‘story’ ends at the end of SPECTRE, which makes the task of tacking on a fifth movie even more problematic. When you know the reason Craig finally said yes to the role (having initially turned it down) was on the strength of this script, one has to think doing one more is going to be a mistake for everyone involved.
The feeling refuses to go away: it isn’t just historical precedent at play here either. Diamonds are Forever, View to a Kill and Die Another Day are hardly stellar examples of the franchise, and all three just showed up the need to change the current actor with the designation to someone younger. The script for Bond 25 frankly has to be so good that it could win an Oscar, or else this landmark film will end up just being remembered as the last one that an actor made who should have quit whilst everybody was ahead. Whatever happens, however, this is where Craig was undoubtedly best as Bond: raw, malleable and ultimately prepared to die for his Country.
My feeling we should have stopped at Skyfall continues to persist, even more so having seen Casino for the first time on the big screen: I only ever got that on video as 2006 was the point in my life where depression consumed everything. I’ve often wondered if that mental attitude clouded my judgement of just how good Craig’s inaugural outing was. Last night confirms just how strong, brilliant and quintessentially Bond the whole experience was. If I am going to remember anything from the tenure of this actor, it will be his first movie and the third. Everything else will be consigned to space marked as ‘acceptable filler’ and I’ll wait to see which British actor is given the nod to replace him. Of course, I’d like an actress or a non-white male to take the role, but there’s as much a chance of that as me getting to write a Bond script.
This version of Bond undoubtedly has run his course. Time for a change.