The Bond franchise has once again entered this wonderful time, where the only certainty is that, well, James Bond will return. What is anything but certain, however, is when and how.
Therefore, rumors and speculation on the state of the next Bond film have been a regular occurrence during the last few months. The latest of which is the report that Daniel Craig has been offered a $150 million paycheck by Sony for two additional films. And even though this report is most probably bogus, then who cares — it has certainly sparked many intriguing discussions on the subject at hand.
The thing is, there are equally strong arguments to be made for and against Craig continuing as Bond. Also, looking at different discussions on the internet, it would seem that there is as much excitement for the prospect of getting a new Bond, as there is for Craig to do at least another one. However, there is a considerable argument in support of the continuation of Craig's tenure, which has been largely overlooked.
To put it simply, we have never gotten a proper send-off for any of the previous five Bonds. And even though I genuinely loved Spectre for what it was, I am not so sure that it worked as a conclusion for Craig's Bond. So, let's take a look why there still is a story to be completed before we can start a new one.
The Struggle With Conclusion In The Bond Franchise
For clarity's sake, it's probably easiest to view each of the six Bonds we have had so far as their own separate things. Now, for one or another reason, none of the previous five Bonds have managed to end their tenure with a film that offers a sense of completion and conclusion. What exactly do I mean by it? Let's take a quick look back at 007's illustrious on-screen career.
Starting with Connery, one could argue that his third and final goodbye to the character in the unofficial Never Say Never Again did indeed have a sense of conclusion to it. However, it's not really a part official Bond canon and feels extremely detached from his other films for that reason.
Now, his official departure in Diamonds Are Forever was your average run-of-the-mill Bond story without any clear sense of completion. Meaning that as great as Connery was in the role, his tenure did set a trend, which saw all the subsequent incarnations of Bond struggling to depart from the role with a clear sense of conclusion.
Lazenby and Moore? Well, Lazenby left the role before actually being able to properly settle into it. Good ol' Rog, on the other hand, stayed around for a tad bit too long and his last effort with A View to a Kill certainly lacks any real sense of satisfaction and conclusion.
Following Moore, it was Dalton, who took over the role. Now, Dalton did leave on a high with the awesome Licence to Kill. However, while it was indeed a brilliant film, it was not meant to be Dalton's last. In other words, it was not supposed to be a conclusion to his tenure.
He was contracted for three films and was always supposed to make a third one. Unfortunately, the legal disputes regarding the Bond franchise took care to see that never happening. Then again, it's not like his successor had any better luck with making that one last film.
Pierce Brosan always wanted to do a fifth film with a darker tone, but was rather unceremoniously let go. Therefore, Die Another Day became his swan song in the role if you discount the truly awesome video game Everything or Nothing (which you shouldn't). And, even though I do think that Die Another Day is an odd triumph in it's own right, it certainly did not feel like a proper conclusion. So, yet again, another incarnation of Bond ended without a sense of completion.
Does Each Bond Really Need A Conclusion?
Of course, a strong case can be made for not really needing to end one's tenure as Bond with any sense of conclusion at all. Obviously, the continuity in the Bond franchise is purposefully chaotic. That way, there has always been an opportunity to start fresh, should the creators sense the need for it. So, up until Craig's tenure, each Bond film has been this largely lone-standing adventure belonging to this bigger and seemingly never-ending franchise.
Fair enough. However, there are some crucial counter arguments. Firstly, it's important to understand that the conclusion to a Bond's tenure does not have to tie up all the loose ends and have the character retire. It's enough to simply make the last film with a clear knowledge of it being the last one for the current Bond. It should be an adventure with a bit more special feeling, where the creators give a subtle wink to the audience of it being the last one for that particular Bond.
Now, that sense of conclusion would also make the process of the next actor taking over the role considerably easier, simply because there would be no feeling of taking up a story that isn't finished. Therefore, the "other fella" can start on a clean slate and do his own thing. This brings us to the current status of Craig's Bond.
A Story That Deserves To Be Concluded
Naturally, one can't overlook that, in many ways, Spectre is a rather fitting film for Craig to sign off on. After having reinvented the character, this movie finally saw Craig's Bond meet the classic Bond formula. For sure, it might have lacked the emotional core of his previous films, but the gradual build up towards embracing the franchise's legacy throughout Craig's tenure made the film feel earned.
Furthermore, as said before, concluding an actor's tenure in the role can be as much as a little wink to the audience. Now, Bond driving off into distance in his iconic Aston Martin DB5 could certainly be considered one.
So, what's the problem? It seems as if we finally did get a conclusive end to an actor's tenure in the role, right? Well, it would be the case indeed, if Craig hadn't shaken the foundation quite as much as he did with Casino Royale.
Here's the thing, let's, for a second, forget all the mythos and legacy surrounding this franchise. Let's simply focus on the character and the story. Now, whether one liked it or not, Spectre connected all the four Craig's Bond films to make it a one big story; a story that has a raw and emotionally powerful beginning, which gave us an engaging character within an engaging plot (Casino Royale). Now, it all needs to come full circle to deliver us a conclusion, which carries the same emotional heft.
To Sum Up
Don't get me wrong, we don't need a Casino Royale clone. Just think about it like that. Daniel Craig has reinvented the character and given so much to the franchise with his four Bond films. His tenure made the character human and raw (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) and brilliantly explored Bond's relevance and the relation with the franchise's legacy (Skyfall) before embracing it (Spectre). However, even though I honestly wouldn't mind too much if Spectre turned out to be his swan song, it would be nice to go out on a more emotionally heavy note.
Make no mistake, Craig owes this franchise nothing — he has delivered more than enough. However, I would argue that he does owe the character, he plays, a more emotional send off.
There's no denying that Bond has some of the best one-liners in the game. Check out some of his best in the video below: