Old Bond writers return, change again
Bond 24, the film to follow the successful Skyfall (Filmstalker review), is set to gain two new writers. Except they aren't new to the Bond franchise, they're writers who just left it after the last film, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. They've been asked to return and work on the script that John Logan delivered for Sam Mendes to direct - Logan being the writer brought in to work on Skyfall after Purvis and Wade delivered their draft.
So now the tables have turned Ms Broccoli and/or Mr Mendes, and you expect them to write. No, she doesn't expect them to die. Okay that didn't work, back to the story. It's interesting to think that Purvis and Wade are back on the case, and you have to wonder what that means for the direction of Bond.
You may remember the James Bond film Quantum of Solace (Filmstalker review). After the excellent Casino Royale (Filmstalker review) we were given a fantastic story that was set to give Bond an organisation to do battle with. However it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib - the organisation was a private investment group and the horrifying plan was buying unused land and selling the water contained within it, shocking world to ransom at the touch of a button type stuff. Those people were arch-villains.
Let's not even mention the horrifying closing act where there was a big action sequence followed by the capturing of a bad guy, a chunk of missing film, and a conclusion from nowhere. Someone had forgotten to write the ending.
Two people actually, and it wasn't a surprise that they left the franchise after that film. Well it wouldn't have been if they left because of it, but they left after delivering a script for Skyfall which might not have been the exact script that was in the hands of the actors, but it was a massive comeback from the fall of Solace.
Now it turns out that they are returning to the franchise, after a time away that doesn't even equate to one film. They've returned to work on the latest script, and taking it away from the man that took away the Skyfall script from them. My, it's sounding like a better plot than Quantum of Solace.
The story originally comes through the Daily Mail, so salt pinchers at the ready people, through The Guardian, it seems that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who left the Bond franchise after writing five films - The World Is Not Enough; Die Another Day; Johnny English, oh wait that's not a Bond film; Casino Royale (Filmstalker review); Quantum of Solace (Filmstalker review) and Skyfall (Filmstalker review) - and seeing their last script handed to John Logan for Sam Mendes to direct, are returning to the franchise to write the script that Logan has just delivered for Bond 24. The story says that Logan's version of the script was not accepted very well and that the script needs a lot more "punch".
The suggestion there is action, but considering some of the plot twists and turns that have happened to Bond and his team of late, this might refer more to big plot moments - the blowing up of MI5, big characters coming and going, etc.
You could argue that perhaps Purvis and Wade brought these big moments to the last few scripts, particularly the last film Skyfall, or that maybe Logan was brought in to turn a standard Bond script into the more exciting and fresh version we saw in cinemas. Really it's impossible to tell unless we had both scripts in front of us to compare, and really, the truth is probably that they all had a hand in it and Logan pulled more of the thriller out of it, quieting down the traditional Bond aspects.
Bit of perspective though. Looking at the Bond films that Purvis and Wade have written, out of the five there is only one that they are credited with writing alone - Die Another Day. The rest of the films all have another writer on the credits, so is this really any different to business as usual for the franchise?
The good news is that Sam Mendes is still directing, despite the writer he brought in for Skyfall and then two more films (then dropped to one) moving on, and that suggests we're going to get more of the tone and style we received with Skyfall, and that's a good thing, make no mistake.
What does this change in writers mean for the new Bond? Well it perhaps means some of what was brought in for Skyfall, and indeed all the Daniel Craig led Bond films, taken out and what has been with Bond since The World is Not Enough returning. Looking at the track record for the current Bond incarnation, I'm not sure that is such a good thing after all.