What do we have here? Teases: glimpses (was that a villainous Javier Bardem?), stunts, explosions, a crackup in the London Underground, terse dialogue, a bit of the Bond theme. Craig silhouette nudity. Erotic shaving. Well, it’s a teaser.
What we don’t know (and won’t really know until October) is what a new and exciting creative team will bring to the table. Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and the much-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins and composer Thomas Newman were an impressive troika on 2005’s Jarhead and 2008’s Revolutionary Road, and I’m curious to see how they’ll shake and stir the format. (Or simply right the franchise, after 2008’s worrisome Quantum of Solace.) Returning to active duty are scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have written the last five Bonds, joined by three-time Oscar nominee John Logan, and editor (and sometimes director) Stuart Baird, whose work so distinguished Craig’s debut in Casino Royale (2006).
So many questions: Will this seventh turn as M be the last for Judi Dench? How will Q (played by indie and theatre stalwart Ben Whishaw) be reintegrated into the action after a decade-long absence? Will we ever see Moneypenny again? Who is Ralph Fiennes’ agent and how does he get him parts from franchise to franchise (Harry Potter, Hades in two movies, and now this)?
Mendes (quoted on Wikipedia): 007 is experiencing “[a] combination of lassitude, boredom, depression [and] difficulty with what he’s chosen to do for a living.” I know the feeling. But, James, you get to have your midlife crisis in the company of “Bond girls” Naomie Harris (28 Days Later, Pirates of the Caribbean) and Bérénice Marlohe, so look on the bright side.
Cheer up, Commander. This is also Bond 50–yes, the James Bond series is a half-century old (and I’m not much younger, either). The thick and thin of it is being revisited in a “Bond 50” Blu-ray box set that will be released Sept. 25 in the U.S., and just a day earlier in the U.K. (ha). The good news is that You Only Live Twice (1967), the peerless On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds are Forever (1971), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), GoldenEye (1995), and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) will be making their format debuts; the not-so-good is that if, like me, you have the other 13 on Blu, you’ll have to wait until they’re available individually, perhaps in tandem with Skyfall’s home video release. (Or, like me, you can sell them off and buy the set, likely to be region-free, from Amazon UK for about half as much as it’ll cost in the U.S.; Amazon UK is a great place to find good deals for region-free Blu-ray box sets, like Harry Potter, Alien, and Lethal Weapon.)
I’m not too worried about the specs on these. The same features have been ported from reissue to reissue since the laserdisc era, and I figure this will be the same. I suspect MGM/Fox was just trying to keep its PR from getting unwieldy. Trust, but verify, as another Cold War figure once said.
2012: Skyfall, and a windfall of James Bond movies.