What if there were two missing Bond films between Quantum and Skyfall?
What if they already existed?
I’ve always felt that there were at least two missing James Bond films been Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. He goes from rookie to retired in the blink of an eye.
I also miss Brosnan’s Bond. So I watched this sequence… And it works VERY well.
By necessity, this article contains SPOILERS for all films mentioned.
CASINO ROYALE – Bond begins. The agent is given Double-O status and is sent on his first mission to stop Le Chiffre. Along the way he demonstrates his many skills, makes mistakes, falls in love, is betrayed, and gradually refines into a world class agent.
The closing “Bond, James Bond” with the fully-fledged Bond theme is a glorious ending. Yet when you think about it, he has unfinished business and the next film, while disappointing for some, does actually complete this reconstruction of James Bond.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE – One hour later and Bond is seemingly off the rails, on a blinkered vendetta against Quantum, who operated Le Chiffre and orchestrated the betrayal in Casino. Bond crosses the globe in his attempts to deal with Quantum and stop slimy henchman Dominic Green. I say “henchman” because the real villain of Quantum of Solace is the Quantum organisation. Am I right?
For most of the film Bond is off-script, a rogue agent. I think the way the mysterious “Quantum” organisation is established is wonderful. I love how they make it look like Bond is killing his way across the world in a reckless revenge mission (sadly the script never seems to let Bond notice or comment on the fact he is being set up). Yet, in the chill of Kazan, Russia, he finds a tiny little bit of solace by dealing with the man who manipulated Vesper. Bond reassures Judi Dench‘s M that he never left the service.
If we then watch Tomorrow Never Dies (and focus on Bond’s story, trying to avoid the change of actor) we are in a neat position. Quantum finishes in Russia, and in the next film, he is sent to the Russian border.
TOMORROW NEVER DIES – A fully confident Bond deals with the villains at the “Terrorist Arms Bazaar” on the Russian border, and is soon pursuing the power mad Elliot Carver in his attempts to set up, and exploit a new world war.
Bond journeys from England to Germany then to Vietnam, accompanied by Chinese Agent Wai Lin. A ghost from Bond’s past, former lover Paris (now Carver’s wife) shows that Bond still has his demons to deal with. But at least he is on a sanctioned mission from M, not going rogue!
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH – Brosnan swaggers through the film with easy confidence – this is Bond at the top of his form. The action is slick and Bond tries to be responsible with his protection of Elektra King. Yet Bond lets himself fall for the wrong woman, and being blind to the real villain, he ultimately puts M in danger.
By the end, he has saved energy supplies and the lives of thousands around the Bosphorus. The film ends with him celebrating with Christmas Jones in Istanbul. Another sanctioned mission completed. Bond is really at the top of his game.
The final location of TWINE is also neat in this movie sequence, for it leads straight into Bond’s next mission in Skyfall, which starts in Istanbul. So let’s assume he has a few day’s rest before M sends him to agent Ronson, wounded by killer Patrice at the start of that film.
SKYFALL – Bond pursues Patrice through Istanbul, including a roof top chase across The Grand Bazaar (I love how this watch sequence uses two different bazaar’s to connect the films!). Bond gets shot and vanishes, before returning to London to get fit and pursue Silva, who is targeting M and MI6.
Following his exhausting adventures in Tomorrow and TWINE I can now buy that Bond is older and struggles with injury and fitness. At the start of TWINE he injures his shoulder falling from Cigar Girl’s hot air balloon – then at the start of Skyfall, he also gets shot in the shoulder! I also love how Silva dryly observes that Bond’s knees must be killing him with all that running about.
One of the strongest scenes is when Silva first meets Bond and logically deconstructs M, MI6 and Bond – alongside Bond’s unresolved childhood trauma. Bond’s struggle with loss and grief echoes through this sequence – Vesper, Mathis, Paris, Elektra. With M instructing Eve to shoot Bond at the start of Skyfall, he suffers another “betrayal”.
Many complain about the “retconning” of Craig’s movies but the seeds were already there from Fleming’s books and the prior films. In Skyfall, Bond fails in his mission, and loses a mother-figure. His need to protect Madeleine in Spectre makes sense in this context.
SPECTRE – Following a video message from the recently-deceased M, Bond is off-script again, tracking down a mysterious group of international criminals. During this film, Craig continues to show his mature Bond swagger, as he confidently follows clues to “SPECTRE”. The suicide of Mr White leads Bond to assume a protector role over White’s daughter Madeleine. It’s not a protector she needs, but Bond probably needs this more than her – his unresolved grief at his parents feeding his “saviour complex” and urging him on to “protect” Madeleine who has now lost hers.
The easily spotted “twist” that the leader of Spectre is “Blofeld” aside, many joke about how Blofeld’s motivation is because the orphaned Bond spent a summer being looked after by Blofeld’s father. The script doesn’t help here, but it seems unfair to reduce the story to that – Blofeld was always going to create havoc worldwide, make money and consolidate power, the realisation that little James Bond was an agent unwittingly involved in pursuing him gave Blofeld an excuse to toy with him. For Bond, there is a deep seated connection to his grief, memories of his lost parents and the realisation that his “foster father” was killed by Blofeld, his “foster brother”. Bond and broken families, right?
By the end of Spectre Bond and Madeleine drive off into the distance.
NO TIME TO DIE – the final film continues from the events of Spectre, taking place barely weeks later, and it is the culmination of the many themes we’ve seen through the seven films. Bond’s unresolved grief, his compulsion to protect, his errors in judgement, going off-script, the loss of parents, parent figures and lovers.
Yet another betrayal at the beginning urges Bond to really retire for five years, before espionage draws him back to his MI6 “family”, back to Madeleine, and into a family of his own. I really appreciate how Nomi jokes about shooting his “good” knee (a nice call back to Silva’s knee comment from Skyfall!)
By the end of the film, and this sequence, Bond finally saves the world, saves his MI6 family, and saves his own family. At last everything is resolved.
Of course, this is just a fun way of trying to watch the films, and it isn’t perfect. By omitting GoldenEye we miss Judi Dench‘s brilliant first sceen with Brosnan (“I think you are a sexist, mysoginsit dinosaur”) but this film has to be omitted as she is already his boss in Quantum.
On the subject of M, she really does get about a lot in this sequence – instantly travelling from Russia to London between Quantum and Tomorrow, instantly travelling from Istanbul to London between TWINE and Skyfall. I do love how M supports Bond by travelling so much though.
And if you are wondering where Samantha Bond‘s Moneypenny, and Desmond Llewellyn‘s Q are in Skyfall, I offer this:
I’m a lover of the Bond films, and Daniel Craig‘s “continuity” is just fine by me – even the controversial ending, but the two Brosnan films fill in the gaps. I still wish I enjoyed Die Another Day more, or that Pierce Brosnan had a proper send off, but as he didn’t I’m going to pretend that in this sequence of seven movies, 007 was played by that famous actor CRAIG BROSNAN.
Yes, that works for me.