2005: a new 007 is cast; past is prologue

Seems hard to believe but it has been more than five years since Daniel Craig was cast as James Bond. While researching something else, we came across how The New York Times reported the story. There were a few things that caught our eye.

First, there was a comment from producer Michael G. Wilson, yet another refrain by Wilson of something he has been saying since the 1990s:

“We are running out of energy, mental energy,” Mr. Wilson recalled saying. “We need to generate something new, for ourselves.”

Yes, Wilson could not let the announcement pass without complaining about how tired he was. We’ve written before about Wilson’s complaints about how exhausting it is to make James Bond movies, as close as a movie producer can be to having a guaranteed sale. So add this to the list.

Next, then-NYT reporter Sharon Waxman (now editor-in-chief of The Wrap, an entertainment-news Web site) quoted studio executives she didn’t identify concerning the new direction the 007 film series would take now that it had a new leading man:

For both Ms. (Barbara) Broccoli and Sony, executives said, the model was Jason Bourne, the character Matt Damon successfully incarnated in two gritty spy movies for Universal Pictures, “The Bourne Identity” and “The Bourne Supremacy.”

Note, this was published in Ocotober of 2005, months before cameras would start rolling on Casino Royale. There wasn’t a public hint that Eon Productions was even thinking about emulating the Bourne films, something that reached its peak in the first 20 minutes or so of 2008’s Quantum of Solace. In that film, the Eon team even hired Dan Bradley, second unit director of the Bourne movies. After Casino Royale, producer Broccoli said Bourne was never a consideration in interviews SUCH AS THIS ONE WITH UGO.COM and that Casino was inspired by From Russia With Love, not Jason Bourne.

Finally, there was this passage in the NYT story, citing Amy Pascal, chairman of Sony’s Columbia Pictures:

Ms. Pascal said fans would have to wait to see the movie before judging Mr. Craig. As for the online criticism, she observed: “Well, he is tall. He’s the same size as Sean Connery.”

Now, for the record, HMSS gave both Daniel Craig and Casino Royale a number of favorable reviews. So what we’re about to say isn’t a jab at Craig. It should be noted what Pascal said is demonstrably incorrect.

Connery, depending on your source, is generally listed at 6-foot-2 or so. Daniel Craig, again depending on the source, at around 5-foot-10. Now 5-foot-10 isn’t a midget by any means. But it’s a good four inches shorter than 6-foot-2. If Pascal wanted to brush off criticism of the choice, there were all sorts of other things to say. Don’t say something that doesn’t stand up to the tiniest bit of scrutiny.

A Bourne movie without Bourne? Here’s hoping Eon doesn’t copy that idea

Eon Productions has been “inspired” by the Jason Bourne franchise in its last two James Bond films starring Daniel Craig. 007 has been grim, not showing much in the way of humor and, with Quantum of Solace, there were lots of shaky camera shots and it even had Bourne’s second-unit director Dan Bradley.

The Bourne franchise is about to make its boldest move yet, as EXPLAINED IN THIS YAHOO MOVIES STORY:

The next film will be called “The Bourne Legacy,” but even though the name’s in the title, the film will have no Jason Bourne. Thus, no Matt Damon. Interestingly enough, the book “The Bourne Legacy” does have Jason Bourne (though it wasn’t actually written by Robert Ludlum, the creator of the book series).

On the Hollywood Elsewhere Web site, new director Tony Gilroy describes it like this:

“The easiest way to think of it is an expansion or a reveal,” Gilroy says. “Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he’s very much alive. What happened in the first three films is the trigger for what happens. I’m building a legend and an environment and a wider conspiracy…the world we’re making enhances and advances and invites Jason Bourne’s return [down the road].

OK. Grim avenger Bond? That’s one way to play the part. Shaky camera? It’s kind of an in-thing among filmmakers these days. But we would not be interested in a James Bond movie without James Bond just to explain what the criminal organization Quantum is all about. (And yes, we can already hear a joke one of our 007 friends would tell based on this posting.)