The recent release of Skyfall is a stunning piece of work; as much an homage to the classic James Bond of yore to its position in a very different, contemporary context, and the uneasy marriage between the two. It’s a mind-blowingly brilliant film (in my opinion, the best ever) and this is certainly in part down to the legendary director, Sam Mendes. The creator of classics such as American Beauty and Road To Perdition claimed that he wished to make an entirely dialogue driven James bond, focusing much more on the characters with none of the action set pieces.
So, while this is an incredibly interesting proposition, understandably the studio big wigs were probably less enamored .. But it got me thinking: what if Bond met some of cinema’s greats? What brilliant/horrifying films could this produce? Here's my look at a couple:
The UK’s finest purveyor of misery can keep the British ties, but instead of a fast paced jaunt through iconic London, we’ll be thrown into a rainy trundle around the arse end of Yorkshire or some bleak suburb of Birmingham. Throw into the mix some unemployment for JB, now played by a weathered Robert Carlyle, a penchant for domestic violence as a way of getting his kicks now MI6 have taken away his license to kill and a movement from Heineken to Special Brew, and we’ve got the perfect socio-political statement against the State and their power to crush the dreams of a once brilliant man and reduce him to the gutter. Or something.
Picture the scene: Bond wakes up, after a particularly raucous night at the casino, in bed with a beautiful woman. As the cold halogen lights crackle loudly above him, and the insects swirl, the woman arises from her slumber, rolls over and starts to sing a haunting melody. Her face slowly starts to melt away from her skull. The noise of the lights and the song warp as the melting woman comes lurching to Bond, as he struggles to grasp any weapon around before coming face to face with a stark naked M. He then wakes up in a high speed car chase, before coming crashing through a factory building all the women and weapons of Bond’s checkered history. It’s a twisted, warped world full of industrial imagery and sexual undertones. It’s a psycho-analyst’s wet dream.
The foppish fool Hugh Grant comes bumbling into M’s office. “Oh, um, ahem, ah, well, um ah, you see, um, I don’t suppose, eh, that I could skip this bluddy mission, you see, ahem, ah, I have a date you see. She’s rather lovely.” His offer is regretfully declined, and he is forced to charm the villain into not going through with his quite frankly dastardly plan so he can get back to the darling Miss Moneypenny just in the nick of time... It’s an awfully jolly adventure, with some jovial quips and a teary reunion at the end. Cue vomit.
The Generation X slacker king posits Ben Affleck as Bond (as, y'know, he could play the shark in Jaws, he's that good) and gets him spewing all sorts of expletive laden filth about blowjobs whilst he tries to seduce Moneypenny at MI6 headquarters. The action might not be quite so sprightly, but the dialogue would be as fast paced as an Aston Martin car chase. And lets face it, who doesn't want to see Bond team up with Jay and Silent Bob for some sort of stoner showdown with a blunt smoking Blofeld?
Johnny Depp playing Bond the only way that Depp can act at the moment, with a constant ‘quirky’ glint in his eye that suggests he as much wants to kill you as he does wrap up a pineapple in gaffer tape and use it as a karaoke mic to belt out the national anthem. Helena Bonham Carter no doubt turns up as M, giving her posh King’s Speech voice another run for it’s money. Burton then destroys any credibility he has left through various scenes of inane boredom. It’ll be in 3D. For no discernible reason whatsoever.
You think you've seen explosions? Hell no. If the chronic blood sucker that is Michael Bay got his clammy adolescent hands on them, the style of Bond would be lost for eternity with Shia Labeouf trying to work out the difference between shaken and stirred. All that panache and desire for physical action and stunts that has so characterised the franchise for the last half a decade? Gone, and replaced with him battling a CGI dragon on a fucking cloud while his new half-machine-half-canine sidekick yapped at the feet of some deranged, chronic masturbator of a villain. And for the love of god, imagine the unholy range of Hasbro toys. This is a world I don’t want to live in.
It’ll be five hours long.
Y’know what? I think Sam Mendes was probably the best choice.