The release of the critically-acclaimed reboot, Casino Royale, appeared to pave the way for the James Bond franchise to churn out movies well into the next century. Unfortunately, precarious finances at MGM studios have stymied any additional plans for a second sequel to be made with the current Bond, Daniel Craig. And that may not be such a bad thing, argues New Republic contributor Isaac Chotiner.
After reading and assessing Sinclair McKay's strenuously detailed history of the franchise, The Man With The Golden Touch, Chotiner realized that it's about time for 007 to die off. How did the one-time fan get to this dark place? Well, after studying up on the minutiae of the twenty-two film series (one tidbit: Cary Grant could have been the first with a license to kill if he had agreed to sign more than a one-picture deal), he finally admits that any shred of "artistic merit" has been tossed aside in favor of canny commercial instincts. He explains the rationale for this not-so-stunning, but persuasive, conclusion:
Even if this history shows the canniness of the filmmakers’ commercial instincts, the movies themselves—especially of late—live in an unchanging male fantasyland and are completely without artistic merit. A true Bond fan must ruefully concede as much. My greatest fear used to be that the series would end, but now that thought is oddly appealing.
Still, Chotiner had kinder words to say about the British spy than period thriller-writer John Le Carré, who dismissed Bond as a "Neo-fascist gangster."