Movies | June 2, 2021 1:05 pm

A James Bond Screenwriter Is Unnecessarily Worried About 007’s Legacy

"Skyfall" and "Spectre" scribe John Logan outlined his worries about the new Amazon-MGM deal. But any change to the Bond films might be a good one.

Screenwriter of the Year John Logan during The 8th Annual Hollywood Film Festival Awards Ceremony in 2004
Screenwriter John Logan (pictured here in 2004) is worried about the future of James Bond
L. Cohen/WireImage

Casino Royale was a wonderful continuation/reboot of the James Bond series.

That was 2006. Since then, we could, at best, call the recent cinematic adventures of 007 “meh” — stuck in time, obsessed with product placement and more interesting for the news they create off-screen rather than on.

And yet, the old ways persist. In a recent New York Times opinion column, frequent Bond screenwriter John Logan says the new Amazon-MGM deal — which includes the Bond series — gives him “chills,” and not for good reasons. We outlined more of his concerns here.

“I know that Bond isn’t just another franchise, not a Marvel or a DC; it is a family business that has been carefully nurtured and shepherded through the changing times by the Broccoli/Wilson family,” he writes. “Work sessions on Skyfall and Spectre were like hearty discussions around the dinner table, with Barbara Broccoli and her half brother Michael Wilson letting all the unruly children talk. Every crazy aunt or eccentric uncle was given a voice. We discussed and debated and came to a resolution, as families must, with no outside voices in the room.”

I’m certainly not going to argue with Logan’s credentials as a screenwriter (Gladiator, The Aviator, Hugo), even if I’ve been indifferent to his 007 output. The man is a three-time Oscar nominee, and he can certainly be worried about corporate oversight, theatrical release vs. streaming and seeing Amazon as more of a technology company (which can be troubling at times) than an entity interested in making art. Fair points.

But even he admits that Broccoli/Wilson “family” he discusses maintains 50 percent ownership and assurances of creative control. Will Amazon, post-deal, try to chip away at that control? We don’t know (side note: Prime Video has put out several great TV series and movies, so it’s not all algorithms here).

My concern is this statement: That Bond’s creative controllers have done an “extraordinary job of protecting the character through the thickets of moviemaking and changing public tastes.”

This sounds a lot like arguments for why 007 couldn’t be played by, say, Idris Elba or a woman. Or why he shouldn’t have to adapt to the modern world — outside of gadgets, natch — or do anything that goes outside of a set of rules that were created in 1952, the release of the first James Bond book (which was Casino Royale).

As far as Bond not being DC or Marvel? Not true! The Bond films have done some world-making of their own and brought back characters (and recast characters, starting with Bond) into multiple films. They’ve also featured ridiculous action sequences and had Bond face off against evil scientists and the equivalent of super villains (hi, Jaws). They went to space.

“James Bond has survived the Cold War, Goldfinger, Jaws, disco and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, several times,” continues Logan. “And I can only hope that the powers that be at Amazon recognize the uniqueness of what they just acquired and allow and encourage this special family business to continue unobstructed.”

And I, for one, hope Amazon continues to push the Bond “family” to find writers like Phoebe Waller-Bridge and recognize some of the anachronisms of the spy series. And, yes, cast Idris Elba.