It’s been a bumpy ride, but the next Bond film — what will be its 25th — is locked in with a release date: November 8, 2019. Great! All they need is a script, a story, a director, a Bond woman, a Bond villain and maybe even a Bond. Technically, Daniel Craig hasn’t yet officially signed back up on for the role, of which he once said he’d “rather slash [his] wrists” than play again. Recently, he’s cooled out, in the manner of someone who’s been deprogrammed in a seedy motel over the course of a long weekend. Sources say he’s had one of his characteristic changes of heart, claiming he’d do it, fine, whatever.
Whether Craig will return looking detached-bordering-on-mannequin-esque, à la Sean Connery in “Diamonds Are Forever” — in which the original movie 007 returned to the role after bequeathing it to George Lazenby for the one-off “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” and generally looked like he was mentally counting his sizeable paycheck at every second — remains to be seen.
Craig has always been above this fun-dumb franchise, even when it turned into a gritty semi-reboot that, at least in “Casino Royale,” featured not one silly gadget or gizmo, nor even much martini drinking. He’s a serious actor, which we don’t mean as an anti-elitist affront. He’s so serious about his craft that next month, viewers can see him finally and gleefully cutting loose. In Steven Soderbergh’s first post-retirement movie, the heist comedy “Logan Lucky,” James Bond gets to act like a total goofball on screens for the first time ever. He plays an explosions expert wrangled into a ruse by two redneck brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) to swindle a racetrack. He rocks dye-blonde hair and a nasal Foghorn Leghorn accent; he gets to pronounce the word “naked” as “nekkid.”
Craig is clearly mapping out his post-Bond life. If he does indeed return — or if Idris Elba or Charlize Theron suddenly winds up with the job — all we’re asking is that it’s no “Spectre.” Then again, the Craig-Bonds have so far alternated between a really good one and one that’s either really bad (“Quantum of Solace”) or just kind of crappy (“Spectre”). So this one, a bit rushed or not, will probably be pretty good.