Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ideas for a Bond Movie...

I read this just now, and I must say that these ideas would make fantastic Bond movies, especially 001,002 and 003. Really after watching the Casino Royale Fiasco, I went and bought myself a 4 in 1 DVD of Pierce Brosnan's Bond films to console myself!

007 Ideas for 007

Gary Earl Ross

“After the last film, we spent eight months trying to come up with a story, but just couldn’t... There was nothing new left to do. So we decided to start all over with the story we’ve always wanted to tell how Bond became Bond in the first place.”
Michael G. Wilson to Entertainment Weekly on why EON
dumped Pierce Brosnan and rebooted 007.

Pierce Brosnan himself lamented the inertia that set in among 007 producers after Die Another Day, and now Michael Wilson has confirmed it. The problem, then, was lack of imagination on the part of creative staff. Instead of firing the writers who dreamed up invisible cars and preposterous science fiction motifs and spent eight months coming up dry, producers elected to fire the actor who spoke their lines.
Eight months?
As a writer, I have to wonder at the lack of ideas. At a Harlan Ellison reading I once attended, a would-be writer announced that he wanted to write but had no ideas. How did Ellison get his? “Then you’re not a writer,” Ellison said. “Writers have ideas.” Purvis and Wade, who penned the last three 007 films, had a remarkably new idea for the start of Die Another Day by having Bond spend time in a North Korean prison. Unfortunately, they abandoned the idea fairly quickly and reverted to formula before the film reached the first quarter mark. Much of the rest of the film mined material from previous Bond films for set pieces and twists masked as homage. Wilson’s admission that they were out of ideas for Bond should have come as no surprise to anyone.
But as Ellison said, writers have ideas, so I’m going to attempt to generate seven 007 ideas in this piece. Each will be character-driven. Each will be tough and gritty. Each will be something EON could have done to refresh the franchise without replacing a beloved lead with a craggy near-unknown, without replacing baccarat with Texas Hold ‘Em, and without featuring a control room with a ticking bomb or space-based weapon.

001. Bond goes rogue and is hunted by the world’s best government assassins. The pursuit is global and Bond must go underground to survive. He resorts to disguises, blends in with various populations, visits old lovers for temporary sanctuary, and retreats into the wilderness when necessary. While underground, he pursues his nemesis by tapping into phone lines and computer systems until he uncovers a far-reaching plot to overthrow the government of Great Britain. Yes, Bond has gone rogue before, briefly, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, and Die Another Day. The catch this time would be that at the end of the film, Bond has a secret meeting with M and she refuses to cancel the sanction. At the end, in the arms of the “Bond girl,” 007 says, “You’re not safe with me,” to which she replies, “You’re not safe with me either.” Bond says, “Then let’s make the most of the time I have,” and she unloads the gun she would have used to kill him.

002. A major supporting character (M, Moneypenny, Q, Tanner, Robinson, Leiter, Wade) is assassinated or murdered, and Bond must investigate. If the victim is a fellow agent, he must follow the agent’s footsteps to the killer, who is part of a plot to a)destabilize world currency, b)place a world-class double identity terrorist at the head of the UN or a major western government, or c)use biological or chemical warfare to wipe out the West’s ten major cities simultaneously. The first half of the film would involve Bond’s pursuit of revenge. The second half would focus on his stopping the plot. He would take special pleasure in killing the killer but would revert to his usual efficiency for others in the plot. We’ve seen those glimmers of pleasure in a specific kill in Dr. No, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only, License to Kill, and Goldeneye. If M is the victim, Bond can meet the new M at the end, which offers a nice segue to the next film. If Moneypenny is the victim, he can meet M’s new secretary. In a touching earlier scene, Bond can kiss Moneypenny’s casket. At the end, he can drink a toast to her picture: “Moneypenny, what will I ever do without you?”

003. Bond is on the trail of the world’s leading assassin, someone who is the mirror image of himself, who anticipates his moves and has countermeasures in place at every turn. The twist is that each is assigned by his government to take out the same Central American or Middle Eastern dictator. There will be no cooperation, however, for the other assassin wants to complete the mission and take out the legendary 007, forcing Bond into the same posture. If the other assassin is a female, Bond will have bedded her but will have to kill her at the end. He can be alone at the end of the film, contemplating his life over a drink at his club in London. A woman sits opposite him and he says, “009, what are you doing here?” “The same as you,” she says. “Trying to find comfort because I have a shite job.” He suggests they try to find comfort together, but she balks because of the service’s rules against agent involvement with each other. “If we’ve been colleagues enough to work together and walk away the next day . . .” he says. “They’ll never know.” They leave the club. The waiter then phones M, who says, “Good” and orders Robinson or Tanner to make sure they’re kept under surveillance but left undisturbed. “After what they’ve been through separately, a night together might be just what I need to keep my top people in top form.”.

004. On special assignment to train U.S. operatives, Bond uncovers a plot to awaken sleeper assassins in major U.S. cities for a coordinated attack on key government officials. Trying to work through the problem, Bond gets caught up with the bureaucracy of Homeland Security and wonders aloud how anything gets done. He strikes out on his own, first taking down the hidden assassins who have been activated and then finding the puppet master behind the plot. It is apparent that at least some of the sleepers are involuntary, so Bond must face the dilemma of whether to kill an innocent person unaware he or she has been programmed to kill. If the sleepers have some kind of implant that will explode if removal is attempted or the remote control device is destroyed, Bond’s choice will be harder. In fact, the explosion is the method the puppet master will use to carry out his assassinations. If the Bond girl is a sleeper, he must save her or kill her but he turns to Q, who encases the control device in a block of acrylic that is locked in a vault.

005. Bond goes to Africa. As an African-American I have long been disturbed by the lack of attention the West pays to Africa. If Shaft can go to Africa and The Constant Gardener can uncover a murder plot there, so can Bond. His mission will be to take down a genocidal dictator who has financial ties to a Russian oligarch who wants to return his own brand of communism to Russia. The plot permits the return of several Bond characters from previous films and books: Leiter, Wade, Draco, Anya Amasova. Roger Moore has said the poverty he witnessed in India while filming Octopussy helped inspire him to his active role in UNICEF. Exposure of wretched conditions in a Bond movie may go well beyond Tears of the Sun and can become a socially meaningful 007 flick if handled like The Constant Gardener and Hotel Rwanda.

006. While on assignment in South America, Bond gets involved in a plot to overthrow a government supported by drug cartels. Wounded by government agents, Bond goes into hiding in a village and becomes the village protector. Leading the villagers in an uprising against the drug lords who have enslaved them, Bond assassinates the corrupt president and M must scramble to keep his identity secret. Later, in London, he is visited by the woman who nursed him back to health. You may recognize Witness and The Magnificent Seven here but all plots come from somewhere.

007. Casino Royale. Bond is ordered to undermine a terrorist financial network run through a casino in Monaco. The catch is that this assignment is similar to one he received soon after he earned his 00, though this time he is not to gamble government money. He is there masquerading as an investment banker interested in infiltrating the finance mechanisms. His chief problem is that he keeps having flashbacks to his previous assignment, his torture at the hands of LeChiffre, and his betrayal by Vesper Lynd. The flashbacks impair his ability to complete his mission and he must face up to his demons to succeed. In lens-filtered flashbacks Bond is portrayed by a young actor who closely resembles Pierce Brosnan and who can assume the role when Brosnan retires. I must confess, however, that this idea is not wholly original. Both Quentin Tarantino and Pierce Brosnan suggested Casino Royale be the next 007 film, but I doubt seriously you’ll see either one get a story credit.

There you have it, seven quick ideas, dashed off between last night while my teens and their friends were on the other side of the living room watching Crash and this morning before I get on the ladder to repair my roof. Each is a rough idea that could be developed. Each is character-driven. None has a super villain with a scraggly cat, a media empire, or a DNA transplant. None has a control room or a space-based weapon involving diamonds, lasers, or EMP. None involves a set-up for a very bad pun at the end (see The World Is Not Enough and Moonraker).

Writers, you see, have ideas. If Purvis and Wade couldn’t come up with something, Michael and Barbara should have called me, or some of the thousands of other writers available. We’d all leap at the chance to do 007. But they’ve chosen to sink their ship.

Guess I’ll hold out hope for a call from whoever wants to make The Man from UNCLE.


Gary Earl Ross is the author of The Wheel of Desire and Shimmerville. His play Matter of Intent won the 2005 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.


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