Daniel Craig updated 007 bang with his James Bond debut in the 2006s Casino Royale, but it was a big bet for the world’s oldest spy franchise.
Oddly enough, the mixed fortunes of the previous episode spun the wheel for the biggest reboot yet.
Less the first Bond film of the 21st century and more like a hangover from what came before, the 2002s Die another day was the commercially successful but critically maligned final release for Pierce Brosnan’s 007.
As Moonraker prior to that, the film was a box office hit, but its brand of expensive camp and visual effects-focused spectacle was not sustainable for future films.
In the shadow of Austin Powers and Jason Bourne, MGM wanted to keep Bond fresh (a young Bond series “like Small cityWas mentioned at one point) and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson felt it was time for a change.
Initially, it was a question of running the project of Halle Berry Die another day the character Jinx in his own spy thriller, written by series regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, and launching a “Winter Olympics” franchise alongside the Bond films.
Meanwhile, Broccoli and Wilson also planned to bring the 21st Bond film back to basics with a new take on Ian Fleming’s debut Bond novel, 1953. Casino Royale.
Still to be officially adapted due to prior rights agreements to the Bond franchise itself, the screen rights for the novel had reverted to Eon in 1999 following an MGM deal with Columbia Pictures for the participation of the first in Spider Man.
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Apparently, Quentin Tarantino approached Brosnan and Eon (some reports say it was Columbia he introduced, before the rights reverted to Eon) with a drastically different approach to the 1950s. Casino Royale that he wanted to shoot in black and white, but the producers did not bite.
After MGM got hurt Jinx and told Eon to focus on Bond 21 instead, the producers decided to tell an origin story, kicking the franchise in a new direction rather than modernizing it. Casino Royale for the existing version.
After deciding to replace Brosnan (who probably wanted a big pay raise as well), the producers started testing new Bonds, but Broccoli had his sights set on an actor from the start.
Cards on table
In 2004, Daniel Craig was best known for his TV shows Our friends from the north and a more recent breakout role as an unnamed gangster in Matthew Vaughn Diaper Cake.
He didn’t consider himself to be obvious Bond material, but Eon wooed him while they were tweaking the script. After a polish and rewrite in the third act by Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis, they won over Craig and he duly signed up as a sixth actor to play Bond in the movies.
French actor Eva Green won the pivotal role of Vesper Lynd, Mads Mikkelsen was cast for Le Chiffre, and Jeffrey Wright became the latest actor to play Bond’s CIA ally Felix Leiter.
The only returning actor in it was Dame Judi Dench as M, and his relationship with Craig’s Bond became key to the emotional arc of his first three outings.
That wasn’t all the change behind the scenes, either. Having inaugurated the Brosnan era, Golden eye Director Martin Campbell jumped at the chance to take it a step further with the series’ reboot, putting as much into the character and drama as it does stunts and action.
Composer David Arnold turned things around as well, retaining the iconic Monty Norman theme in his score until the very end of the film.
As per the script, the traditional theme song is more about Bond’s perspective for a change, and Arnold chose Chris Cornell to co-write and perform. You know my name. Coupled with a striking black-and-white opening sequence (as Tarantino suggested!) And Daniel Kleinman’s stunning opening tracks, the song opened the door to the new era.
With a budget of $ 150 million, much of the film was shot in Prague, with production designer Peter Lamont creating dubbing sets for London, Miami and Montenegro in his ninth and final Bond release. There were also shoots in Venice, the UK and the Bahamas, with paparazzi besieging the shoot amid sustained negative media coverage ahead of the release.
Long before the arrival of Benoit Blanc, it was with a knife for Craig as soon as his casting was confirmed. Even in the mainstream media, there was a fixation on the vocal minority screaming that the star was too ugly, too blonde, or otherwise bad for Bond. To his credit, Craig kept his chin up and worked his back to prove them all wrong.
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Indeed, one cannot overstate his influence on the direction of the series, from his physical presence to his approach as an actor.
As a result, the most iconic scene doesn’t happen during a crash-bang-wallop fight scene but afterwards, with Bond comforting a fully clothed Vesper under a runny shower. While the script called for them to be in their underwear, Craig insisted that they be fully clothed. The scene is better for it.
Set against the backdrop of the love story, the film has a lot of elements we’ve come to expect from Bond.
Granted, the theme doesn’t play until the end, and there’s no Q or Moneypenny, and the Aston Martin crashes into the Guinness Book of Records when Bond rolls it seven times in a field. – but the movie is also a more faithful adaptation of Fleming than anything we’ve seen in a long time. Heck, even the grinning genital torture scene happened in there.
Rather than throwing the formula away, he updates it wherever he can, which is the key to his success: Casino Royale was a bet that paid off – and far exceeded Die another daybox office total of – going in the completely opposite direction.
No time to die arrives in theaters on September 30. Watch a trailer below.