So, the 22nd James Bond film is in pre-production, with director Marc Forster already talking about locations and Bond Girls and more. But there have been disquieting notes and murmurs from the Bond camp -- filling Bond fans with dire contemplation of slightly grim possibility that Casino Royale's excellence may not be so easy to recapture. As a long-time Bond-watcher, I thought I'd draft a sort of open letter to the Bond production team about some very specific things they could do to make sure that Bond 22 maintains 007's freshly-renewed license to thrill. ...

1) Bulk Up the Bad Guy

If one thing hurt Casino Royale's air of excellence, it was the fairly disappointing physical mis-match between Daniel Craig's hulking, burly Bond and Mads Mikkelsen's pallid, frail Le Chiffre. Whoever your bad guys is this time around, please -- cast someone who looks like they could offer Craig's Bond a fairly even match in a fight. (One of the reasons GoldenEye worked as well as it did was Sean Bean's scary-competent, lean and wicked rogue 006 -- an extremely credible nemesis in both the brain and brawn departments.) Film-closing throw-downs aren't just fun, they're necessary -- we all want to see good and evil mix it up -- and nothing deflates the tension in an action film faster than knowing, at one glance, that our villain would fold up like a cheap tent after taking one punch. The producers of Bond 22 could try to save on the budget by hiring an unknown, but they shouldn't skimp on the tension by hiring someone who has less physical presence and capability than the formidable Mr. Craig.

2) Keep it Real ...

The Bond films at the end of the Brosnan run felt less like spy movies and more like idiotic variations on Saturday morning TV -- Die Another Day's plot of gene-spliced villains wearing electricity-shooting exoskeletons felt less like Ian Fleming and more like Stan Lee. And it's hard to imagine audiences accepting something like the plots of The Spy Who Loved Meor Moonraker, either, where the entire world was in peril and every life on the planet depended on Bond saving the day. Casino Royale had the balance right: lives were at stake, yes, but not millions of them; the stakes were comprehensible, and thereby much more affecting than grandiose, Dr. Evil-style schemes.

3) ... But Not Too Real

At the same time, the Bond films can't be too ripped-from-the headlines; escapism (which, at the end of the day, is what the Bond films are) is enhanced by realism, but poisoned by reality. Or, put another way: Do you really want to see Bond in the mountains of Pakistan, hunting Al-Quaeda? Of course not; it's an insult to the audience, the people actually trying to do that job, and pretty much everyone involved. Bond 22 should take place in a world that feels like our own; it should not take place in our world.

categories Cinematical