Hugh Jackman recently revealed that he passed on the opportunity to play James Bond in mid-2000 as he felt the script had become “too crazy.” “I was about to do X-Men 2 and a call came from my agent asking if I’d be interested in Bond. I just felt at the time that the scripts had become so unbelievable and crazy, and I felt like they needed to become grittier and real,” he told Variety.
Pierce Brosnan, the Bond who took over the mantle of the Brit super agent instead of Jackman, also found the scripts to be frustrating. “I wanted Bond to get a little grittier and real and down and dirty. But however you try to nurse it along, the scripts would come along with the same outlandish scenarios,” Brosnan told Total Film magazine this April.
The word ‘gritty’ is an important one, not because that seems to be so urgently needed in a franchise like Bond, because 007 did get gritty with Daniel Craig’s foray into the franchise. But that could not help the Brit agent beyond the first film, Casino Royale. The Bond films got more layered and physically relevant, but obviously could not move beyond the basic crux of the plot – which is essentially dated, especially post 2010.
The Issue With 007
James Bond in Hollywood could not move beyond the post-Cold War era – because it clung so hard to what Ian Fleming’s original vision of 007. And although Fleming was a revolutionary, the world has moved on from the old battle-scarred infallible superhero concept. Even when it set its clock to the modern-day MI6, the crucial traits of Bond still remained the same. This problem also exists with the Mission Impossible franchise – but on a different level. It was very essential for Hollywood’ James Bond to make the leap, not just in time but in character and psychology. James Bond films are in this day, essentially sexist, and needlessly formula-backed.
When a franchise like Sherlock Holmes can be revamped like it has been – for the big screen and small, so can Bond. But Hollywood has to let go of Fleming’s macho-yet-silky sleuth, who just won’t crinkle his tux. There are instances in Brosnan’s Bond films, where he charges into the scene with two machine guns, and yet you feel no sense of action or thrill, just a nagging sense of predictability.
James Bond Doesn’t Connect With a Modern Audience
This element of suaveness obviously saw the much needed upgrade when Craig stepped in, and made way for a very jarring version of James Bond – one who could actually instil suspense. But Craig’s Bond too, got wary, not because he got old, but because his version of 007 kept falling into the same pattern. In Skyfall and Spectre, we see a Bond, who does not inspire any emotion among the audience – you didn’t care if he died or got to the bad guys, because, he couldn’t get through to you.
Hollywood Desperately Needs a ‘Q’ to Innovate
Bringing back Craig as Bond for yet another film is a bad idea. Unless the makers have something seriously radical planned, the same old Bond pancake just won’t sit well on the mould, because like it or not, there are better options. Hollywood has tried to innovate and bring back its heroes, with Justice League and other franchises. Also, 2017 and of course the following years demand a Bond who can get its audiences riled up. The ‘British agent saves the day’ routine is just old and in desperate need for evolution. But Bond films have never acknowledged the need to evolve or change or even listen to other’s opinions, and post-2017 Hollywood might not agree with what Bond still clings to.