ByDaniel Sanguineti, writer at
Daniel Sanguineti is a Australian Film Producer and Writer, who has previously tutored film and media at the University of Canberra and the
Daniel Sanguineti

There is discussion to be made about how James Bond has a growing irrelevance, an issue that faced Pierce Brosnan on the release of 1995's Goldeneye. The classic definition of the Spy has lost its meaning, particularly when Mission: Impossible gives way for a spy to be described as a superhero daredevil.

So let's talk about the elephant in the room. James Bond's 24th outing is a good film. It has everything you want from an action movie. A fairly decent and engaging plot, some great set piece action scenes and some good performances, particularly from Christoph Waltz.

But sadly I fear the Bond franchise has slowly dug itself a hole since the rather outstanding Casino Royale. When Daniel Craig took on the iconic role, the mission was to reinvent Bond for modern digital era. Yet despite its successes, Casino Royale's portrayal of the James Bond character left very little room for the story to progress.

So what is not working?

Perhaps the bitterness left behind from Quantum of Solace has added fuel to the fire, despite what it was ultimately trying to contribute to this new James Bond era. Bond was grieving the loss of someone he loved deeply and it was likely a revenge story would follow. The title hinted perhaps he would find some sort of solace. Thanks to many factors, (that included a writer's strike) a sub-par film was produced, leaving a lot of work to be done with Skyfall.

Skyfall sees the metaphorical rebirth of Bond (after QoS) and the death of another lady in his life, Judi Dench's M. The modern era Bond is constantly humanised. First with love in Vespa Lynd, then in grief and revenge of her, and then in death and rebirth in the events of Skyfall.

Now Spectre appears to complete this humanising, with Bond discovering the "architect of all his pain" as quoted in the film, and the introduction of a new love interest in Lea Seydoux character.

For the first time in the film franchise's history, four subsequent Bond movies have been tied together as part of the overriding storyline. And this presents the first evidence towards Bond's growing irrelevance.

In an effort to humanise Bond he has been given a character arc. Since Casino Royale we have seen Craig's Bond grow into the suave, invincible, debonair MI6 spy we're supposed to know.

A question to consider is that, did Roger Moore's Bond learn anything from his trip to space in Moonraker when he took on Christopher Walken's villian in A View to a Kill. Fair enough that some argue that Moonraker was the franchise low point, but these two films were separate stand alone stories with little to story continuity.

So continuity, or trying to keep one, has opened up problems for the franchise.

So what does Bond fights and stand for? He is an agent of her Majesty's secret service. His duty is to the British motherland. The Bond of the past existed in a very different world. The Cold War with the Russians gifted the creation of Bond we knew well.

The question of Bond's relevance post-Cold War was put to the Pierce Brosnan version of the character. Despite those concerns, Goldeneye stands as one of the great modern Bond films. It balanced the need for Bond in the current climate, with giving a greater depth to his character to suit the modern world. But its villain (in form of the former 006) was its biggest strength. He wanted to destroy London. His plans were wide spread damage and devastation. The ticking time bomb has always been a mainstay of Bond villians, because it works. It gives meaning behind Bond's fight, despite how much the concept has become a cliche.

Let's be fair, Spectre featured its own ticking clock. A countdown to a Skynet-like program's activation that will remove the privacy and freedom of every person on the planet. The story is all too familiar, and Captain America: Winter's Soldier probably pulled it off better.

Yet despite this diabolical plan, Waltz's villain declares "I am the architect of all your pain." It's personal. Too personal. James Bond really just needs a villain who just wants to blow up the world and Bond is there to stop them.

So what is the solution?

It's a difficult question to answer. The world is a different place to when Bond was first created by Ian Fleming The September 11 attacks changed everyone's view of terrorism. The recent terrorist attacks of in Paris are still fresh in all our minds. Villains are a different beast all together these days, if you consider your neighbour's son could, without warning, strap an explosive device to himself and detonate it in a crowd. Espionage perhaps doesn't exist any more. The secret wars are now played out on social media and the 24 hour news cycle.

These are the questions that James Bond filmmakers have probably debated for since 2005's Casino Royale. Once upon a time, the idea a lone spy could save the world wasn't far fetched. Espionage work was done in the streets. Today, computer analysts are the modern spies.

And this is where this argument could lead toward. A more realistic, humanised Bond is not relevant, when you consider after all movies are meant to be for escape.

The Pitch

So here is my pitch for the next step in the Bond franchise.

Let's make Bond a period piece. Lets go back to the 1950s and make Bond about the wild super villains who didn't know any better. Lets get Bond rappelling into the secret lair, with the British Army in tow, to stop the bomb with a big red button. And lets get Tom Hardy to play him. Now wouldn't that be a wonderful escape?

What did you think of Spectre? Do you also think Bond is becoming irrelevant? Tell us in the comments below.

Daniel Sanguineti is a Australian Film Producer and Writer, who tutors film and media at the University of Canberra and the Canberra Institute of Technology. He is on twitter @DanSanguineti.


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