Big news for Bond fans as EON Productions announced on Monday that James Bond will return to theaters on November 8, 2019.
Unfortunately, that news comes with a few caveats. For one, no cast has been announced — including Bond himself. Despite rumors asserting Daniel Craig would be back in the tux, it is unclear if that will be the case. That said, such a close release date suggests a Bond is in the frame and makes Craig’s return more likely.
In fact, the New York Times reports that it is definitely happening.
The official 007 website also announced long-time series writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade will also return. And if I may be allowed a bit of a editorializing, that news is certainly less celebratory. While both executed the order to strip down Bond to his essential parts in Casino Royale, they were also behind the extravagant and ludicrous Die Another Day. That film, despite a box office success, led to a long fallow period for Bond as the producers rethought the concept. Purvis and Wade subsequently wrote — in whole or in part — the scripts for all of the Craig era films, including Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre.
Though clearly dependable, it seems the quality of their scripts varies wildly. But more importantly, I think the reliance on the pair has led to a stagnant quality in the series since The World is Not Enough. In almost all of their Bond films, the plot stops two thirds of the way through and attempts to rebuild momentum. As a consequence, the conclusion of each film is less satisfying as the films devolve into set-destroying ballets with the stakes lost in the fireworks. In the case of films like The World is Not Enough and Casino Royale, the main plot has already been resolved; making the action seem superfluous.
Now, set destruction is a hallmark of the format all the way back to Dr. No. It crystallized in Thunderball with its extended underwater sequence and hydrofoil fight. But in the Purvis and Wade era, these final battles feel too big, too extended and strangely impersonal. That could be an issue with the direction as well, but the plots themselves lead to a same place in each instance. It may be time for new blood in the writers’ room.
In fact, Purvis and Wade attempted to get away from the typewriter — or laptop, I suppose — for Spectre. Their Skyfall collaborator John Logan wrote the initial drafts, but eventually polished the screenplay. Presumably, they saw the danger in sticking around as well.
Then again, I may be alone on this. Many found the stop-and-start nature of Skyfall‘s final act one of its more complementary aspects. And there’s certainly no denying the Wade/Purvis team are a part of the series’ continued box office confidence. That’s certainly one reason for EON to continue working with them.
I am a fan of the series and I want them to be good. But I also want them to be as fresh as possible. Hopefully, the duo will construct a fabulous outing for themselves and, presumably, Craig when the 25th official James Bond film comes out in 2019.