James Bond always has had a license to kill. But does he also have a license to be funny?
The last James Bond adventure, Skyfall, had a brilliant mixture of danger, thrills and humor – particularly in the colorful interplay between 007 (Daniel Craig) and the menacing Silva (Javier Bardem). And with Sam Mendes back in the director’s chair for the announced James Bond 24, you can see why he’d like to tap into some of the same magic. Which is why The Daily Mail reports that Mendes has brought Skyfall original writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade back to Bond 24 to punch up the screenplay turned in by Oscar-winning screenwriter John Logan.
Specifically, according to reports, Purvis and Wade were asked to "sprinkle in more gags, emphasizing the witty repartee between Daniel Craig’s 007 and Naomie Harris’s Miss Moneypenny, and focusing on the interplay between Bond and Ralph Fiennes' M." It can’t be coincidence that these reports are surfacing days after one-time James Bond co-star John Cleese criticized the current franchise for being far too serious and intent on delivering long, boring action sequences to appease Asian audiences.
Rewrites on massive franchise sequels aren’t unusual. And while John Logan is a spectacular screenwriter who has been nominated for three Oscars for penning Hugo, The Aviator and Gladiator, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t need a polish from his Skyfall collaborators. Neil Purvis and Robert Wade have been contributing to 007’s world since 1999’s The World is Not Enough, and have guided Daniel Craig through his three recent 007 adventures. Of course you’d want to bring them back.
The problem, according to the Daily Mail, is that these rewrites are going to cause a significant delay in the production, or, as a source calls it, "polite turmoil" behind the scenes. The production on Bond 24 now won’t begin until December, "a few months later then they wanted" according to the source. This allows Sam Mendes time to direct Simon Russell Beale as King Lear at the National Theatre, and to co-stage a revival of Cabaret in Manhattan. Part of the compromise of bringing Sam Mendes back to Bond after Skyfall was allowing him to maintain his theater commitments, of which he has many.
Here’s the bigger question: Will these delays force Bond 24 to move off of its November 6, 2015 release date, as was previously announced. It almost has to, no? Compressing a James Bond production under a year doesn’t allow a lot of time for post-production. And that’s if the shoot goes as smoothly as possible (which is hardly a guarantee). There have been discussions ever since Sony announced the plans for Bond 24 that it would lead to back-to-back Bond movies, and maybe that leads to a streamlined production schedule. But a December start on Sam Mendes next 007 thriller leads me to believe we’ll be waiting longer than anticipated to see the lethal agent on screen again.