Imaginary Bond movies from prestige directors
Post-Skyfall, we imagine 007 in the hands of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and others.
After decades of hiring journeymen and no-name filmmakers, the decision-makers at Eon Productions finally put 007 in the hands of a capital-D director. Skyfall, Sam Mendes’s high-minded entry in the 50-year-old series, is now the biggest hit of James Bond’s career. But what if the powers that be entrusted the character to other acclaimed auteurs? We envision the next installment.
Bond 24 begins with the obligatory shot of 007 firing at the camera, except the “blood” that drips down the lens becomes a permanent red tint. The confusing plot, told out of order and with chapter titles, pits the superspy (Channing Tatum) against a pharmaceutical company with government ties. Following an early single-take fistfight, Soderbergh shifts his focus to two dozen other characters, demonstrating how corporate corruption touches all aspects of our lives. Critics call the film a “fascinating procedural.” Bored audiences slap it with a “D–” CinemaScore.
And you thought Skyfall was moody. Shot on 1,200 camera phones, Mann’s near-abstract addition to the canon finds Bond (Colin Farrell) flying to Havana to track down an international weapons smuggler. He spends most of his time holed up at a beach house, contemplating codes of masculinity while downing martinis and staring at the water. Rather than commission a new opening-credits theme, Mann just reuses the Chris Cornell number from Casino Royale. The rest of the soundtrack is made up of Audioslave songs.
Meet James Bond (George Clooney), a well-dressed power player who seems to have it all: a cool car, a license to kill and no pesky moral standards to complicate his womanizing, jet-setting dream life. But on a routine motorcycle chase, he meets Ellen Page’s spunky, sharp-tongued blogger, Clementine Climax. (Sample zinger, courtesy of screenwriter Diablo Cody: “Slow your roll, Jason Bourne.”) Will falling in love spark a crisis of conscience in the slick secret agent? Look for J.K. Simmons as an out-of-touch megalomaniac who wants to provoke war with North Korea and also thinks indie rock died when Neutral Milk Hotel broke up.
Gus Van Sant
Back in self-imposed exile after the events of Skyfall, Matt Damon’s 007 retreats to rural Oregon. His meditative alone time is disrupted by the appearance of Michael Pitt as a rookie spy sent to bring the agent back into the fold. Instead, the two wander shirtlessly through the woods, exchanging loaded, slow-motion glances to the tune of Elliott Smith’s “Satellite.” The song is an allusion to the world-threatening space weapon Bond is supposed to dismantle; we see it only once, glinting faintly during an 11-minute shot of rolling clouds.
Inspired by the aging-hero narrative of Skyfall, Eastwood takes it even further, casting himself as an elderly, accent-less Bond yanked out of retirement when an unseen madman threatens the life of the queen. Most of the movie consists of Clint grumbling about the newfangled gadgets Q foists upon him.
Years after expressing interest in the franchise, Tarantino finally gets his shot. Less about espionage than other espionage movies, QT’s talky, ’60-set Eurospy homage casts Clive Owen as a double agent who joins forces with Great Purge survivors to assassinate Joseph Stalin. (In a critically panned decision, the director casts himself as the dictator.) Everyone keeps referring to 007 as James Tont; self-satisfied cinephiles applaud the sly reference to Django writer Bruno Corbucci’s 1965 spoof Operazione U.N.O.
Skyfall arrives on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday 12.