The 23rd James Bond Film is Officially Announced
Also: A 50th Anniversary Documentary
After years of delay due to MGM's abysmal financial situation and months of speculation in the tabloids, the 23rd James Bond film was officially announced today: as expected, it's called SkyFall. Details about the plot were for the most part kept under wraps, but according to the official synopsis (per The Hollywood Reporter), "the movie involves Bond’s loyalty to M being tested after her past comes back to haunt her.
As MI6 comes under attack, 007 has to track down and destroy the threat no matter how personal the cost." For a press conference, the participants were decidedly cagey and little else was revealed, including the names of a lot of characters. But the big news was the cast. Thanks to surprisingly accurate tabloid reports, all of the names were expected, but still very, very welcome. The stellar line-up includes Daniel Craig returning as Agent 007, Judi Dench returning as M, Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) as the villain, and Bérénice Marlohe and Naomie Harris (Ninja Assassin, After the Sunset) as the new Bond Girls (respectively a glamorous woman named Severin and a field agent named Eve), as well as Ralph Fiennes (Page 8, The Avengers), Albert Finney (The Bourne Ultimatum, Miller's Crossing) and Ben Wishaw (Perfume, I'm Not There).
Craig was in good humor and seemed genuinely excited to return to the character for a third go-round. Director Sam Mendes (better known for dramas like American Beauty and The Road to Perdition--the latter with Craig) responded to a question about whether or not he'd direct his own action sequences by name-checking Martin Campbell and John Glenn. In my opinion, that in itself is a very good sign. Personally, I think those guys both had the right idea about how to direct 007 action sequences. (Most importantly, you can always tell what's going on in their Bond movies!) Another drama director who had a go at Bond back in the Nineties, Michael Apted, left the action sequences to his second unit. Mendes kept mum when asked if we'd see gadgets in this movie (which have been sorely lacking from Craig's first two outings), though he promised "plenty of surprises."
A reporter late in the half-hour conference voiced the question on the tips of Bond fans' tongues everywhere. "You obviously won't tell us the names of the names of three of the other characters three of the actors are playing," he asked Mendes. "Is that because Bond fans might recognize them?"
The director replied, "Very well put question. Um... they might do.... On the other hand, they might not." To which producer Barbara Broccoli smiled coyly. I'd say that sounds promising. Like a lot of Bond fans, I'm really, really hoping it means that we might see the return of Bond's greatest nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. (I wrote a piece in 2009 advocating his cinematic ressurection.) SkyFall screenwriter John Logan recently reiterated a long-held assertion that "Bond should always fight Blofeld." My sincere hope (and, again, this is pure speculation) is that Bardem will play the primary, Emilio Largo-like villain, whilst Fiennes lurks in the background as Blofeld, the man pulling the strings. How great would that be? Others have speculated that Bardem himself might be Blofeld, which would also be welcome.
Unlike the last several press conferences, James Bond's new car was not revealed at this one. Perhaps he won't be driving a vehicle of his own in this adventure. There was, however, one final nugget to be gleaned. When asked how EON planned to celebrate 007's 50th Anniversary (it was five decades ago to the day that Sean Connery was announced as the star of Dr. No), producer Michael G. Wilson revealed, "Well, we've got a documentary in the process of being made that looks back on the history of Bond, and we have a lot of other things planned, but we're not prepared yet to announce them." A documentary! Does he mean a feature? Maybe even a theatrical feature? Or is it just a TV special along the sides of the 25th Anniversary program Happy Anniversary 007? I would bet it is indeed a feature, and I'm very curious to know who's directing it! Hopefully we'll find out more soon.
SkyFall opens in the United Kingdom on October 26, 2012, and in the USA on November 9, 2012. Shooting officially kicks off today in London before continuing to Scotland, Turkey, China and Pinewood Studios. (So why is Daniel Craig still sporting facial scruff?)
You can watch the press conference in its entirety here (coutesy of Digital Spy), and read all sorts of details on MI6-HQ, who live-blogged the event.