Monday, November 27, 2006

Having seen the new "retro-Bond" movie, Casino Royale, I can finally say with certainty that Daniel Craig is truly the wrong choice to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond.

I won't get into the whole argument about whether he's handsome enough or suave enough to pull off the role--the simple fact of the matter, the only reason which firmly and absolutely counts, is that he simply isn't a good enough actor to portray such an iconic figure. Barbara Broccoli's decision to cast Craig as Bond is as shaky a choice as it would be to go back in time and recast the role of Captain Kirk with diminuitive actor Verne Troyer("Mini-Me" from the Austin Powers series). It simply wouldn't work. The box office receipts are already revealing that the loveable penguins of "Happy Feet" have bested our man Bond at the box office. Since movies rarely pick up in audience attendance their second week out, Eon & Sony Productions may be looking to replace Mr. Craig for the next outing. And as always, I have a suggestion about that.

To portray James Bond, you need an actor willing to delve deeply into the role, to commit himself fully, to take risks. And for that, you need Bale...Christian Bale. Herewith, my own 007 reasons Bale should be Bond...

001 - He's a risk-taker
From the first time he was on screen(Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun") to "Batman Begins", "Harsh Times" and beyond, Christian has been willing to go the distance for a role no matter where it takes him. If you want proof beyond refute, check out "The Machinist" which could certainly qualify as one of the most shocking films of all time. Not for its content, but for the lengths Bale went to in order to play the emaciated main character. Bale simply stopped eating anything but fruits and water for over a month to prepare for this role, rather than let the filmmakers rely on CGI. It's a powerful telling of how an actor is willing to both suffer and sacrifice for his craft in order to bring something important to his role, and deliver a visceral impact on moviegoers. This is a quality only a handful of actors possess in this day and age.

002 - Familiarity
Christian Bale is a real human being, not caught up in the glitz and trappings of celebrity. It shows in every interview he does and the way he carries himself in public, seeming to actually be uncomfortable with people shouting his name and the attention of the press at premieres. This quality and sense of being able to manage his ego makes him more real to folks, more down-to-earth...and people respond to that. Yes, few of his films have ever been legitimate "hits" ("Batman Begins'" success owes more to the title character initially) but now that audiences know who he is, they have come to expect great performances from him, no matter the material. The familiarity aspect means he would be a big draw in an initial outing as the new James Bond.

003 - Physicality
Bale went immediately from the reed-thin gaunt of his "Machinist" character to a bulked-up, buff and ready-to-rumble Batman. In the latter movie's training and fight sequences, audiences had no doubt in their minds that Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman was more than capable of handling himself. If he were to become Bond, it would be absolutely believable, no matter who his opponent was, that the bad guy wouldn't stand a chance.

004 - Intelligence
James Bond isn't a simple-minded brute, as portrayed in certain sequences within "Casino Royale" by Daniel Craig. He is an effective, intelligent killing machine who uses blunt force when necessary, but is fully capable of thinking his way out of any situation. Christian Bale is certainly intelligent enough to pull off the role of Bond--quips and all--should he be given the chance.

005 - Charisma
Christian Bale has "it". That certain style, that way of carrying himself, that few actors of his youthful years possess. Charisma. As both person and actor, when he is on screen, you can't look away, because you are always interested in what he's going to do next. His voice and mannerisms make him an excellent choice to play a secret agent who may have to kill an opponent in one moment and seduce an enemy's mistress the next. And if he were to introduce himself as "Bond...James Bond", you'd believe it.

006 - Looks
Alright, let's just get it out of the way...yes, the man is handsome. If you're looking for no other quality in a Bond than whether he's good looking enough to carry on in the part, then it's fair to say that just as Pierce Brosnan was the true heir to Connery's throne, then Christian Bale should be the rightful successor to Brosnan's reign. Hell, if Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson wanted to do a re-boot of the franchise, I would've believed Bale as a just-slightly younger version of Pierce/Bond on his first mission. The only way I can believe Daniel Craig one day grows up to be Pierce Brosnan is if in his next outing, he's caught in a massive explosion which blows his face off and "M" orders Pierce's face CGI-grafted to his skull for all eternity.

007 - Love Scenes
As with any Bond movie, there will be scenes where the hero has to make out with several sensual ladies. Even though Katie Holmes was dating Tom Cruise while she worked on "Batman Begins", I'd doubt she was actually thinking of ol' Tom when she was kissing Christian. There probably wouldn't be any complaints from any woman who had to share such a moment on-screen with Mr. Bale. The ability to portray sensuality and raw animal magnetism on screen is as essential to an actor portraying Bond as the ability to handle a gun...or drive a manual transmission. Or not lose teeth during fight scenes. Christian is also a clear winner in this category.

And those are my 007 reasons Christian Bale should be the next man to utter the famous intro of "Bond...James Bond". You may agree or disagree as you like, of course--but how cool would it be for Christian to hop from hit franchise(Batman) to hit franchise(Bond) every couple of years? That way, no matter your choice in heroes, you'd be certain one of them would be satisfied when the summer months roll around to your multiplex. It would be nice to imagine the folks at Eon/Sony reading this and stroking their chins thoughtfully. Then perhaps, given the sure-to-come disappointment of "Casino Royale", their considerations for the next man to utter the most famous intro in movie history would be Bale...Christian Bale.