Late last year, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, producers of the James Bond movies, announced the long-awaited 23rd film in the series: Skyfall, which is set for release November 9. Daniel Craig returns as the superspy, and Sam Mendes is directing. The first plot synopsis reads:
“Bond’s loyalty to M (Dame Judi Dench) is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.”
In conjunction with Skyfall’s production, the producers and studio have updated the official James Bond website and developed a presence for the franchise on Facebook and Twitter. It’s easier than ever for 007 fans to geek out. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the film series, and Wilson has promised plenty of web tributes to mark the occasion.
As a longtime Bond fan, I’m excited to present five reasons why I can’t wait to see Skyfall. We’ll start with the most obvious reason.
5. It’s Been Four Years Since Quantum Of Solace.
It’s hard to believe that the last 007 movie came out during the Bush administration. For even a casual fan, a four-year wait is far too long for a James Bond fix. In the four years since Quantum Of Solace, MGM nearly completely went under, threatening the entire existence of the 007 franchise, until Sony bailed them out, rescuing James Bond from certain doom.
In the last half century, the only time we’ve gone longer without a Bond film was the six years between 1989’s License To Kill and 1995’s Goldeneye. I think the reason for that long wait was because the world needed to cleanse itself of the hideous Timothy Dalton movies.
The last four years have been a period of rumors, false starts, and anxious waiting for Bond geeks like me. The waiting is almost over, and November 9 can’t come soon enough.
4. We’ll Get To See A New Level Of Creativity (Thanks To Studio Budget Cuts).
The forthcoming 23rd instalment [sic] of the franchise – starring Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Dame Judi Dench – was expected to shoot in locations across the globe including Bali and China, but budget cuts means Turkey is now the only other country the movie will go to.
A source told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “Six different countries were selected but after several technical and financial problems, it was decided to scale back and just use Turkey as the sole foreign location.”
British beaches will be used – including Bognor Regis on the south coast – in addition to Pinewood Studios.
The source added: “As well as Pinewood’s incredible facilities, the UK has some stunning beaches, particularly along the south coast near Bognor and parts of Wales.”
Of course what this really means is that Mendes has to use his creative powers to their fullest. I’m anxious to see how he’ll capture the same exotic fancy of other Bond movies with limited location filming. I have no doubt that the finished product will be worth seeing.
3. Skyfall Boasts A Prestigious Supporting Cast.
Though they’ve never exactly been highbrow fare, the James Bond movies have attracted a certain amount of prestigious talent. Theatre star Lotte Lenya was one of the first acclaimed actors to appear in a Bond film when she played Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love. Since then, many award-winning stars have gone toe to toe with 007.
Oscar winners like Christopher Walken and Halle Berry have gone on to star in a James Bond picture after winning their Academy Awards, and Dame Judi Dench (pictured) has been one of Britian’s most loved actresses for years, winning an Oscar after signing on to the 007 franchise.
Skyfall may boast the most star-studded cast yet. In addition to Dench, Oscar winning actor Javier Bardem has signed on, and longtime critical darlings Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney co-star in the film as well. Two-time Academy Award winner Maggie Smith may also take part, though at this time her participation is merely a rumor. Obviously, a cast like this one, along with an Oscar-winning director in Mendes, adds to Skyfall’s class quotient.
2. Skyfall Will Bring Us Beautiful New Bond Girls.
One of the most memorable features of the 007 movies are the Bond Girls. From Ursula Andress and Honor Blackman to Gemma Arterton and Eva Green, the Bond Girls have been an integral part of the series for five decades. In Skyfall, two lovely stars will become new additions to the tradition.
British actress Naomie Harris (pictured, right) plays a field agent named Eve. We don’t know much else about the character, other than that she is apparently teaming with Bond on this mission. Harris told an interviewer that she was glad to be a different sort of Bond Girl:
What drew me to this was the opportunity to play a new kind of Bond Girl…. Those Bond Girls in the sixties and seventies might have been good back then, but they wouldn’t be seen as very PC now.
French model and television actress Bérénice Marlohe (pictured, left) portrays Severine in what will be her first English-language part. Marlohe refers to Severine as “glamorous and enigmatic.” Marlohe is quite enigmatic herself, as journalists have had a difficult time finding information about her. If their characters are sufficiently developed, I think Harris and Marlohe will be welcome additions to the family of Bond Girls.
1. We’ll See The Return Of Q (And Maybe Moneypenny)!
Two of the most familiar regular characters in the Bond franchise have been MIA from MI6 for a decade. The last appearances of gadget expert Q and secretary Miss Moneypenny were in 2002’s Die Another Day. Both characters were conspicuously absent in the first two Daniel Craig films, which is understandable given the movies’ grittier tone and origin-story plots. The BBC has confirmed that Q will appear in Skyfall, and rumors are swirling that Moneypenny will appear as well.
The late Desmond Llewelyn originated and defined the role of Q in 18 films, starting in From Russia With Love, in which he went by the name Boothroyd, through The World Is Not Enough. John Cleese played Q in Die Another Day. The producers of Skyfall have cast Ben Whishaw (pictured), who most recently appeared as journalist Freddie Lyon in BBC America’s The Hour. I can’t think of any other actor who could play Q like I imagine Whishaw will.
Lois Maxwell played Moneypenny in 14 Bond movies before Samantha Bond took over in 1995 for four films. 007 has done without his wisecracking, loyal assistant since then. The initial rumors were that Harris or Helen McCrory would play Moneypenny until the producers confirmed their roles. The Moneypenny rumors are still out there, but as of this writing there is no solid information on who — if anyone — will play her.
Reintroducing Q and possibly Moneypenny will inject a little levity into the Daniel Craig Bond films. After the gritter tone of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, a little humor is welcome.
So there you have it. As the release date for Skyfall approaches, and as we celebrate the golden anniversary of the James Bond film franchise, I hope to share more about what makes the series so much fun to watch. Stay tuned.