Mild (mostly speculative) spoilers ahead...
Spectre is now only two months away, and as usual when there's a new Bond film on the way, I'm stuck in the cycle of re-watching old favourites like Live and Let Die for the twenty-third time and frantically googling for news, trailers, posters or literally anything I can get when I wake up each morning.
And whilst that's a beautiful state to be in, this week has been a little slow on the teaser front, so I thought I'd take a look at all we know about Bond number twenty-four and ask...
Will Spectre be the final outing for Daniel Craig?
Before I go any further I want to point out that Daniel Craig, to me, is Bond. After Die Another Day basically went full-on mental - with its invisible cars and villains using "gene therapy" to transition from Asian to caucasian (seriously) - Casino Royale dialled everything back and gave the series the refresh it needed. Skyfall put everything we love about 007 into an intelligent script with a massively emotional climax. And there was the other one, but we'll skirt right past that.
So I'm not saying Daniel Craig should retire! He's old! However I do think the way that writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have approached the four-movie Craig series sets Spectre up perfectly for Bond himself to "reboot" in Bond 25.
Casino Royale was the Bond we knew and the James we didn't. Bond was tough again - a more macho incarnation of the character than Pierce Brosnan's super-suave ladies' man. But there were layers of vulnerability which were brought to the surface by Vesper that reminded us James was more than just a super-spy - he was a human being. For the first time ever we got a direct sequel in Quantum of Solace, which tried to continue the Vesper story arc by putting Bond on a revenge mission, but there was a disconnect. The writing was flat, the story was confusing, the Bond girl unmemorable and the villain - well, I can't remember the villain at all, which is just about the ultimate crime in a Bond film.
So Skyfall became a kind of soft reboot, reintroducing a bunch of the classic 007 elements - Moneypenny, Q, gadgets, the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger - and diving headfirst into Bond's past. It was an origin story, told backwards. For the past seven movies, James had endured a rocky relationship with M (the sublime Judi Dench), but there was an undercurrent of mutual respect. More than that, we got the impression that M had become a kind of surrogate mother to Bond - never affectionate, but she had his back.
So to see her die in his arms really was emotional. And now, Spectre will pick up where Skyfall left off, with MGM having a second stab at making a "Bond sequel". This time, I think it will work. Everything looks good. We've got a killer cast, the return of more Bondian elements - he's back on the ski slopes! - and, most importantly of all, the return of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. which, you may recall, stands for the Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism and Revenge.
The question on everybody's lips is whether Franz Oberhauser is going to adopt the Blofeld alias, or whether he's just a figure from Bond's youth. If he does turn out to be the cat-stroking supervillain to end all supervillains, James will be facing off with his ultimate nemesis for the first time in decades. That's pretty big news. But it also means the follow-up film will have to find a way to raise the stakes once more. And that's not easy.
No previous long-running Bond made his exit at the right time. Roger Moore was about 69 in A View to a Kill. Sean Connery exited gracefully, only to come back for Diamonds are Forever - not a bad film, but he looked disinterested. And whilst Brosnan was still in great shape for Die Another Day, the film itself had jumped the shark and it was the franchise which needed a bit of gene therapy.
So, assuming Spectre is the movie it promises to be - and the trailer really does set this up to be the most epic, most satisfying culmination of 53 years of Bond history - it might be a good time for Craig to bow out, particularly with director Sam Mendes doing the same having given Bond massive critical success and steered him to a billion-dollar box office return. It's always bittersweet to leave a role behind, but Craig can do so knowing that he's achieved everything possible with perhaps the most iconic character in film history.
After Spectre, Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw) and the new M (Ralph Fiennes) should stay on, helping transition the seventh Bond actor into the series, just like Dench's M did for Daniel Craig.
Change sucks, but every now and then this ridiculous, incredible franchise has to reinvent itself, has to take a risk in order to survive and continue to thrive. Not that we need to think about that yet - Spectre is almost here, and I'm basically high on anticipation. Relive the trailer below, find out what Spectre has to do to become the ultimate James Bond film, and let me know whether or not you agree with my take on the Craig situation.