One of the most anticipated films of 2015 is unquestionably Spectre, Bond's 24th film of the franchise. Even if you're not a Bond fan, there's also the possibility you saw and liked Skyfall (who wouldn't?) and chances are that you're actually interested in seeing 007 in action again. When Sam Mendes was first announced to direct Bond 23, many of us thought that it was a terrific choice. Especially after what happened with Quantum of Solace everything was going to be an improvement. Skyfall is undoubtedly the best James Bond film to date (besides, who could possibly have resisted Adele's theme song?) and Mendes set the bar so high that he even considered not to come back for this sequel.
After months of negotiations, Mendes was confirmed to direct Bond 24, now titled Spectre, and with the cast assembled for the direct follow up to Skyfall we can expect him to take the story into a whole new level. The teaser and trailer for Spectre announce something dark, gritty and more emotional than Skyfall.
There's still plenty of time ahead before we get to see Spectre but in the meantime we can take a look to the previous Bond films and see how Daniel Craig (whether you like him or not) and company have brought some fresh air and ideas to the most iconic spy in the history of cinema.
Throughout years, many have portrayed James Bond. Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan among the most famous in the role. However, it was the unknown Daniel Craig that reinvigorated the franchise with his performance. Die Another Day made people to get tired with the Bond formula of gadgets, explosions, action packed sequences, fantasy and adventure. Nevertheless, Martin Campbell approached the character differently.
In Casino Royale, we saw the most human Bond yet. It's not that the previous incarnations were robots or didn't have feelings. On the contrary, they all are part of an unknown world for us and that is why Campbell adjusted Bond to our time. Jason Bourne is the direct predecessor of the new Bond and Christopher Nolan and his Dark Knight played a significant role in Skyfall. We'll get there in a moment.
Something the new Bond films have demonstrated is that Bond is not prefect. He is like the rest of us. He feels anger, fear and love. In Casino Royale, we saw a devastated Bond, very much alike in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, by the loss of his beloved one (who wouldn't have cried at losing Eva Green). The unconquerable lover suffered his first love deception and the heartbreak is so painful that he didn't allow love to interfere with his job anymore (or why would anybody else have let die Bérénice Marlohe?).
It is obvious that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer took the Bourne movies into consideration to finally move forward with a new Bond story. Fortunately 007 and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios saved the day, and the world was ready to see more of James Bond, until something terrible happened...
Quantum of Solace, that's what happened. Quantum is a step back and it could have damaged so much Bond that it made the executives think twice before they green-lit another Bond film within the next four years. Plot, characters, direction, name whichever you want. Every piece of Quantum felt like an unfinished story, moving towards nowhere. Not even Craig did a good job and we presume it wasn't his fault. The non-existent conflict in the film didn't help the characters to grow and Quantum seemed much more like one of the pre-Casino Royale Bond films, that had nothing to do with Casino Royale, except for the first scene.
Maybe, and just maybe, the theme song was the only good part of the movie. The moral and inner conflicts that made him interesting in Casino Royale completely disappeared, the support characters are so disposable that if those hadn't appeared it hadn't altered the result. We'd want to forget that Quantum existed but it is, as Bane says in The Dark Knight Rises, a necessary evil. Once again, Bond had to rest and the studio had to decide which direction they wanted Bond to take. And they made their call and it couldn't have been better. Skyfall was on its way.
The bad guy that plans to get caught as part of his master plan is one of the biggest contributions that Nolan made to blockbuster films (so that is why Khan allows Kirk and company to catch him in Star Trek, right?). And Mendes took that as an example with Silva. However he is the only character that feels unrealized. Towards the end, the motivations of Silva are completely lost and the initial conflict is forgotten as well. Did anybody remember what happened with the missing list of the undercover spies? Still, Silva is a threat to Bond because he is equally good as 007.
In Casino Royale, Bond failed to save Vesper and Skyfall saw him fail to recover the missing list of undercover agents. Moreover, Bond realized in Skyfall he was expendable, consequently he has to regain his right to be an MI6 agent and prove he learned from his mistakes. As the story progresses, we can perceive how the tone of the film changes and all the characters have a place and contribute to develop the story and, what's more relevant, they complement Bond in many ways. Needless to say, the death of M marks the before and after of the James Bond films and the choice of Ralph Fiennes to take on the character was amazing.
Undoubtedly, Spectre will continue the tendency started in Casino Royale, if we consider it to be a direct sequel to Skyfall. Now that MGM studios found the formula to make Bond more appealing to audience it's safe to say that James Bond is much more alive than never before. Hopefully sometime in the near future we get to see a Bond film directed by Christopher Nolan or David Fincher. Who knows, nowadays everything is possible.