Let’s face it, James Bond isn’t that good at his job.
He’s a spy who within the first 2 minutes of meeting anyone, gives out more information than wikileaks. All in the pursuit of being cool, suave and fearless. Yes it’s been working for him since 1962, but isn’t it time for Bond to focus more on what it takes to be a spy using his brain rather than his braun?
Cast your mind back to the last time we had this debate. The Bond franchise lay in ruins after the abysmal Die Another Day, it needed an electric shot to the heart to bring it back to life. The producers thought the best option was to take a lead from the hugely popular Jason Bourne series – which did the trick. Signing Daniel Craig was a mistake in the eyes of many back then, although this was all forgotten after he hulked up and made a solid debut in the superbly scripted Casino Royale.
Four films later and Craig is now leaving the role with the Bond franchise more valuable than ever. Where do we go from here, Bond’s future no longer needs saving, it needs securing. So who is the right man (or woman given Gillian Anderson’s interest) for the job?
Part of the answer actually lies in the format of the question. Fans shouldn’t be asking who next but what next for Bond?
Since the success of the Bourne franchise, an abundance of action films for the past ten years have been constructed from the same raw material – close combat, tight choreography and lightning quick editing. Bond has done this repeatedly during the Craig-era and it has worked well for him. The problem is, audiences are now used to this, they expect it and it doesn’t surprise or shock them as much as it did a decade ago.
I am aware this is an unpopular opinion, but personally, I wasn’t a fan of either of Daniel Craig’s last two turns as Bond. For me, all of the hard work that had been done in bringing Bond into the 21st century was lost. Loosing the inconceivable gadgets like invisible cars, overly narcissistic tendencies and plain creepiness that littered Pierce Brosnan’s final film was a major accomplishment. It made Bond believable once more. Transforming it into an exciting feature for a new generation and not just some old films your dad loves. Casino Royale made Bond cool again.
Skyfall and Spectre then fell for the same tricks that so many 007 films had done in the past. Cheesy villains, overly used high concept explosions and lazy story arcs that lead Bond from one pretty skyline to another. A few more outings could have lead Craig to go full circle and leave Bond once again needing resuscitation.
Spectre provided not only a fitting end to Craig’s tenure but also to this style of Bond. It’s time for a new Bond, a smarter Bond, a Bond that actually earns his keep as an intelligent spy and not just a block head with a few witty words to say. When a new Doctor takes over the helm of the TARDIS the show changes in almost every aspect – the clothes, attitude and dialogue all adapt to meet the new personality, so why can’t Bond?
This leads me to my choice of Matthew Goode. If you’ve seen him in Watchmen you know he is capable of action, if you’ve seen him in Stoker you know he’s capable of anything.
His screen presence oozes confidence without being overly arrogant or narcissistic, he would be a very believable Bond that could borrow cunning from Sherlock in the same way Craig borrowed combat from Bourne. He is a remarkable British actor who is canny enough to escape most testing situations with either his mind or his movements. It’s amazing that given his skill he is still relatively unknown to movie-goers around the world, a key criteria that the next Bond should posses.
The chances are that Tom Hiddleston will play the next Bond and some bookies have stopped taking bets already. He’s a world-class actor and his outings within the Marvel Cinematic Universe provide more than enough credentials for him to be given the role. The only downside is, how long will he actually stay in the job for?
Right now the world is his oyster so can we really see him signing on for the long term? Daniel Craig has repeatedly mentioned how much work is involved with each Bond film and that this can be exhausting and take up a vast amount of time. With the MCU already occupying much of Hiddleston’s diary, I can’t see him making it through more than two or three productions.
Goode is far less likely to want to work on other projects as this role will be the biggest he’s ever had. He’s just under 40 so he’ll have enough time to work on 4-6 films before moving on to other things. What Heath Ledger did for the Joker, Goode could do for Bond. Make the next Bond more about the quest and not the chest.
Let the Goode times roll.