Editor’s Intro: This is the latest edition of Matthew Grice’s epic alternate history of the Bond film franchise and the final one for now until more Bond history unfolds in our reality. Join Matthew as he gives an account of what the Bond universe might have been like if things had unfolded just a little bit differently. Here, we start off with Brosnan’s fifth and final Bond film Everything or Nothing and then we dive straight into the alternate Daniel Craig era beginning with his debut in Quantum of Solace and leaving off with the latest installment … The Eye that Never Sleeps. As always, Matthew’s passion for James Bond shines through.
You can find the previous installments here:
After experimenting with a spin off and learning that it simply didn’t do well for MGM, EON focused on what they were good at, making James Bond films.
Bruce Fierstein, who had worked on ‘Goldeneye’, and written ‘Tomorrow Never Lies’, was brought back to write the next Bond movie. Titled ‘Everything Or Nothing’. Brosnan’s fifth film began production in April 2005 and was shot at Pinewood Studios, Peru, New
Orleans, Moscow and the Sahara Desert. This was the biggest Bond film to date and was filmed on a budget of $200,000,000.
In the film, Bond is sent to investigate the kidnapping of Dr Katya Nadanova who is the inventor of nanobots, which are capable of repairing damaged nuclear reactors. The trail leads him to a research facility in the Sahara desert, which after rescuing Nadanova, he destroys. This then leads to motorbike/train chases across the great desert.
After successfully completing the mission he is then sent to a Platinum mine in Peru to investigate the disappearance of 005 who is ultimately killed by Nicolai Diavolo, an ex KGB agent who was friends with Max Zorin. Bond reminds ‘M’ that they had ‘once played Bridge together but Zorin had lost’.
As the film progresses, it turns out that Dr Katya Nadanova had sold her nanobot technology to Diavolo, who then altered it so it ‘ate’ all metals but platinum. Diavolo announced that he would destroy the Kremlin and use his army of platinum tanks to overthrow Russia and Europe.
This film was the most action packed, since’ Diamonds Are Forever’, back in 1971. Bond took control of a Triumph Daytona, got behind the wheel of a Porsche Cayenne and then back into the Aston Martin Vanquish, this time without the invisibility. A major car chase was filmed on the streets of New Orleans, leading to the inside of a huge warehouse that, at the same time was exploding. A major gunfight
then takes place in a derelict mine in Peru while Moscow was full of tanks.
John Woo directed and Sean Cally provided the score as well as the title song, which was performed by Mya Harrison. David Arnold had been unavailable. The producers felt that the title ‘Everything Or Nothing’ was appropriate as it was the name of the production company.
In May 2006 ‘Everything Or Nothing’ was released and made $500,000,000. It was considered to be an epic starring Pierce Brosnan, Willem Dafoe, Heidi Klum and Shannon Elizabeth. It was the longest running Bond film, clocking in at two hours fifty five minutes.
After the success of ‘Everything Or Nothing’, the producers hit a solid wall. Where does Bond go now? Cubby Broccoli had always had an interest in showing Bond’s early years in the service and earning his double 0, but at the time there hadn’t been any need for it.
Both Barbara and Michael felt it was time to now explore that route and reboot the franchise. Brosnan was all ready for a 6th Bond film, but the producers told him that they were taking the franchise in a completely new direction and wanted a fresh and younger face for the role of Bond. At the age of 53, after having been Bond for 11 years, starring in 5 films, he was the first ‘Bond’ to be dismissed.
EON turned to writing duo Purvis and Wade who fully understood their problem of where to go with Bond. There was a lack of unused Fleming material to consider as all the book titles for the novels had already been used. “When we’re stuck we always go back to Fleming” explained Wade. “Michael and Barbara told us about an idea of exploring Bond’s early days in the service and earning his double O, which has never been seen on screen before. So we went back to Flemings
first novel ‘Casino Royale’ for inspiration”.
With a fresh approach to the series, it was decided to make Bond more human and show his vulnerable side. It was a long process to create a story that had to be different to that which had already been seen. It was a story that showed Bond earning his double o status yet at the same time portraying his hatred for killing. It was also about what kept Bond going, his duty to queen and country. This Bond would rely on wits instead of gadgets and would sometimes get things wrong. This was the beginning of Bond and would be the first in a long time not to feature ‘Q’ or ‘Moneypenny.
Casting for a new Bond began in October of 2007 and the role was given to Daniel Craig, who at first didn’t want to play Bond as the films ‘stuck to a formula’. But after reading the script he simply fell in love with it, as it was so different to the previous films. This Bond was more human and had feelings and was also beaten up just as much as the bad guys.
Filming began on ‘Quantum Of Solace’ in January 2008 at Pinewood, and would feature an adrenaline pumping chase through a building
site in Madagascar. Bond was in pursuit of a bomb maker named Mollaka who he needed to catch and bring in for questioning, but he kills him instead.
Bond discovers that Mollaka had dealings with a man called Dimitri, whom Bond meets and has a game of ‘Texas Hold Em’ winning Dimitri’s Aston Martin DB5 in the process, before killing him.
Dimitri was meant to be going to an opera in Austria but Bond takes his place. Bond discovers that Dimitri belongs to an organisation called Quantum where a member named Dominic Greene is planning to overthrow the Bolivian government in exchange for a piece of land which has a large amount of water underneath it.
During his mission Bond encounters Camille who is with Greene, but only so she can get close to General Mandrano, who had killed her parents. General Mandrano is a powerful man who insists he can overthrow the government. Bond begins to fall for Camille only for her to be found dead in the bathtub of their hotel room, with sand coming out of her mouth and nose. Bond manages to kill both Greene and Mandrano before they sign the deal for the piece of land.
‘Quantum of Solace’, was a title of a Fleming short story that resembled nothing of the film whatsoever. Martin Campbell, who had agreed to come back on board for the second time, directed the film and it was his decision that Judi Dench should stay on as ‘M’, despite the series being rebooted.
Filmed on a budget of $80,000,000 due to recession and budget cuts, Daniel Craig’s first film made $562,000,000 and was considered an instant classic and proved that he was the new James Bond.
‘Quantum of Solace’ premiered in October 2008 and starred Daniel Craig as James Bond, Mathieu Almeric as Dominic Greene, Olga Kurylenko as Camille,Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter and Jesper Christainsen as Mr White. It would also star Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner.
The character is now the closest it has ever been to how Fleming had written him resulting in a new a fanbase for the films while staying true to Fleming’s vision for the character. When Craig was first announced as Bond, fans were not happy, claiming that he was blonde, short and ugly and that he just wouldn’t fit the shoes worn by the previous actors.
David Arnold returned for the score and composed the title song ‘You Know My Name’ which was sung by Chis Cornell.
In fact Craig had done such a good job he won a BAFTA for best actor in ‘Quantum Of Solace’. It was the first time any actor who had played James Bond went on to win an award.
After Craig received mainstream acceptance as the current James Bond, EON decided that it was time to use the title of the short story ‘Risico’ which was a fan favourite.
‘Risico’ was a sequel to ‘Quantum Of Solace’ and saw the development of Bond’s character while time his relationship with M grew. By the end of the film it had become a mother/son relationship. Robert Wade and Neil Purvis began working on the ‘Risico’
screenplay, while taking inspiration from the short story as well as an early draft of ‘Licence Revoked,’ which saw an attempt at crashing a plane into Buckingham Palace and framing Bond as the culprit. Elements of the short story ‘Risico’ can be seen in the 1981 Bond film ‘For Yours Eyes Only’, which involved the fight at boat yard where drugs were being smuggled. The drug smuggling story line was once again bought up to date for ‘Risico’ and it also went on to feature the return of Quantum. Many fans often see this as modern remake of ‘From Russia With Love’ where Bond is framed by the sinister organisation. We also see Bond put on the Dinner jacket and we see the DB5 fully loaded with gadgets for an epic car chase around Rome. Production took place in Rome, London and other parts of Italy after having been there for ‘Quantum Of Solace’. Martin Campbell returned for his third Bond film. ‘It felt natural that I should return, as I’m the only one who knows Bond’s emotional
state and can understand how it can be played’ said Campbell in an interview. MGM had given EON a budget of £200,000,000 which was an exceptionally large amount, compared to the budget given for the previous adventure.
According to both Wilson and Broccoli, ‘Daniel is still becoming Bond and at the end of ‘Risico’ he will be the Bond we all know and love. ‘Quantum Of Solace’ and ‘Risico’ is about character development’
After the absence of ‘Q’ in Quantum Of Solace’, Ben Withshaw reincarnates the character as a much younger quartermaster. There is a brief scene where Bond’s DB5, which he had won in the previous film, is having gadgets added to it.
David Arnold returned to work on the score while Jack White and Alicia Keys provided the title song ‘Another Way To Die’. This was the first time a duet had ever recorded a Bond song.
Russian born actor Pasha D. Lychnikoff played the drug lord Franco Oliviero.
A name inspired by one of the characters from the John Gardner continuation Bond novels. Both Jeffrey Wright and Jesper Christensen reprised their roles as Felix Leiter and Mr White, whilst French actress Marion Coltillad played Vivienne Michel –a French Canadian who was a Fleming character from the novel The Spy Who Loved Me.
In November 2010 ‘Risico’ was released and made $592,000,000 at the box office.
In January 2011 pre production began on the 26th Bond film from EON. Peter Morgan who had written the screenplay for the 2006 film ‘The Queen’ and also worked on ‘Frost and Nixon’ was invited to develop a story for the next Bond film. He introduced the idea of the story being based around Judi Dench’s character where Bond had to kill her because of her past during the cold war. This story was rejected by the producers Broccoli and Wilson where as Purvis and Wade said ‘it felt more like something from John Le Carr than Fleming.’ This lead Purvis and Wade to rewrite Morgan’s work but still use the notion of killing M. November 3rd 2011 saw the announcement of ‘Skyfall’, the 29th Bond film.
‘Skyfall’ would become Craig’s third film and would introduce Naomi Harris as Jane Moneypenny, while Oscar winning actor Javier Bardem would play Raoul Silva. The film would also star Ralph Fiennes and Bérénice Marlohe.
Award winning director Sam Mendes was also announced as the man who was going to helm the film. He brought in screenwriter John Logan to add extra dialogue and to give the story more of an emotional depth. He also wanted his longtime collaborator Thomas Newman to compose the score. Not only was Skyfall the 29th Bond film in total but it would also mark the 50th anniversary since the release of both Longitude 78 West and Dr No.
The story began with Bond being shot accidently by field agent Jane Moneypenny (who later got demoted to secretary) while on a mission
in Turkey. Bond survived but stayed low for three months. M thought he was dead and at the same time was facing pressure from John Miles who was reminding her that Bond had failed and that a list of agents was now in the wrong hands.
A terrorist attack took place at MI6 headquarters and this was enough for Bond to realize that he was needed. As the relationship develops, it becomes an emotional story between Bond and M, where their relationship was now like that of a mother and son. Also M was in great danger as a blast from her past appears in the form of Roual Silva a former agent who wanted revenge on M.
Peter Morgan’s idea of killing M was kept resulting in the end of Judi Dench’s character. Both the producers and directors felt it was time for Judi Dench to go after playing the role superbly and bringing in a new ‘look’ for the series after 8 films within 16 years.
In the final act of the film we learn that Skyfall was Bonds childhood home and to the biggest surprise and probably the greatest moment in the franchise was the return of Sir Sean Connery playing Kincade, the groundsman, who helped Bond and took M to safety.
Both Mendes and Craig pleaded hard with Connery for him to make a cameo, which to the pleasure of millions of fans welcomed him back with a cheer.
With death of M, John Miles became her replacement.
Skyfall was released on the 23rd October in the UK and worldwide 3 days becoming the biggest Bond off all time earning $1.109 billion worldwide.
Even though it was an original story, Fleming purists claimed the style and the dark tone of the film with addition of the emotion from the
characters felt like something straight out of a Fleming novel. Even the title sounded like something Fleming would have invented. “I think Fleming would be happy with what we have done with the character and how the franchise has continued for 50 years’ said Craig in an interview whilst promoting the film.
The film won several awards including an Oscar for Adele’s theme that accompanied the film while also winning Best British film at the BAFTA Awards. Bond was now BIG!
Not only was Skyfall a huge success leaving everyone at EON with a smile on their face but also 2013 the smile got even bigger. After 29 films and 26 films being produced by the Broccolis, they finally obtained the rights to use the organisation SPECTRE with its leader Ernest Stavro Blofeld, which had previously been the property of Kevin McClory.
It was McClory who had brought Bond to screen with Longitude 78 West and had produced two remakes of the film, which was Warhead and Never Say Never Again. However both these films were acquired by EON 2001 making it clear that they will be the sole possessors of the Bond franchise for the foreseeable future.
As soon as EON retained the rights to use the organization SPECTRE in their films, they commissioned Purvis, Wade and Logan to begin a new treatment utilizing it for the next film.
The producers felt that the huge success of Skyfall was due to the input and collaboration of both Craig and Mendes and therefore they wanted the successful pair back together. Craig was happy to play Bond and said he feels he has few more movies left in him, however, Mendes said that ‘directing a Bond film is a whole new ball game to what he has done previously.’ EON waited for Mendes to fulfill his theater commitments. Then in July 2014 Mendes said he will return for his second Bond film and that he would finish what he started with Skyfall.
With their touted director wooed back into the fold, Broccoli and Wilson wanted the new film to follow on from Quantum of Solace and Risico and for the organisation that was behind the events in those two films to be SPECTRE.
SPECTRE was going to be the title but then it was changed days before the announcement as Mendes felt it would give the game away. He claimed in a interview that “SPECTRE and its leader was the organisation in the Connery/Lazenby era of the 60’s’ and we haven’t seen them ‘properly’ for over 40 years. Now we have the rights to use them both Barbara, Michael and myself felt it was best to introduce it more subtly and not throw it in your face. We want the audience and casual fans to be surprised with what we have back’.
The last minute decision on the title called for an urgent rewrite on parts of the script just as they were ready to commence principle photography. The original script called for Oberhouser to reveal himself as Blofeld but Mendes now felt that it would be better to keep that reveal for the next film and for the audience to think that he is just a member of the organization.
December 4th 2014 saw the announcement of the 30th Bond film while the release of the title song ‘The Eye That Never Sleeps’ that was performed by British group Muse came earlier on September 25th
‘The Eye That Never Sleeps’ starred Daniel Craig as Bond for the 4th time, Lea Sedoux as Madeline Swan, Monica Belluci as Lucia Sciarra, Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhouser and Dave Buatista as Mr Hinx. It also starred Andrew Scott as Max Denbiegh, Ben Withshaw, Naomi Harris and Ralph Fiennes as the new M. Also we see the return of Mr White and Felix Lieter.
As per the producers request, the film connects the first two Craig films together leaving Skyfall as a standalone story. The film begins with Bond in Mexico while the Day of The Dead festival is taking place. He has gone rogue tracking down a nefarious man named Marco Sciarra. We later
find out that tracking Sciarra was at the behest of the previous M. This is also the sequence where fans first caught glimpse of the infamous SPECTRE ring in the theatrical trailer that was released in July 2015, which was an utter surprise and was something that many thought they would never see again: the return of SPECTRE.
After an exhilarating fight in a helicopter Bond manages to grab the ring whilst Sciarra falls to his death. The ring eventually leads Bond to Franz Oberhauser, whose father looked after Bond for two years after his parents died and is a member of SPECTRE responsible for the events in Quantum of Solace and for trying to frame Bond in Risico.
However SPECTRE’s current plan is to try and gain complete control over global surveillance while attempting to disband the double o programme.
In typical Bond style, Bond thwarts SPECTRE’s plans. In an unusual turn of events, he is saved at the very end by Lea Sedoux’s character Madeline, the love interest and the daughter of Mr White after Bond had been tortured by Oberhauser who declared himself to be “the author of all your pain.”
After Bond and Madeline escape, they drive off in a Silver DB10. Oberhouser who was thought to have been killed, later appears with a fresh wound down the right side of his face while holding a white cat seeing them drive if into the distance.
‘The Eye That Never Sleeps’ premiered on 26th October at the Royal Albert Hall and even though it only made $879,000,000 at the box office it was still considered a classic but it has caused a serious divide among fans. Some claim that Skyfall was better while others claim that The Eye That Never Sleeps was the best Bond film for a very long time.
‘The Eye That Never Sleeps’ tied up loose ends and has caused a lot of speculation as to whether or not Oberhauser is in fact Ernest Stavro Blofeld after the final shot saw him holding a white cat. Fans will have no choice but to wait for the next film for answers to their questions as they continue to debate the merits of the latest installment of this historic franchise.
by Matthew Grice
James Bond box office – Wikipedia
The Eye That Never Sleeps poster by Kimberly Dewhurst