Last week, I offered up some examples as to why reboots are often better than hackneyed sequels that don’t have a fresh idea in mind. I posed some “What If?” situations to stress why we shouldn’t automatically feel the need to cut down a reboot project before it gets off the ground. After all, history has looked favorably on reboots in recent years. Instead of doing another round of “What If?” scenarios, I thought we’d dig right into the heart of why certain reboot films work as well as they do. Of course, in order to show why something succeeds you have to contrast it with something that utterly falls on its ass, aka most franchise sequels that come right before the reboot film. With that said, let’s get this “Reboots vs. Sequels” party started! And yes…there will be spoilers, so do proceed with caution.
Case 1: Casino Royale vs. Die Another Day
Die Another Day finds James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) seeking revenge after 14 months of torture while imprisoned at a North Korean military base. Surmising that someone from MI6 must have sold him out as a spy to the North Koreans, 007 eventually ends up teaming up with NSA agent Jinx (Halle Berry) and MI6 operative Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike) to take down a famous diamond company before its evil CEO launches its Earth-scorching satellite. No new ground is broken here considering Brosnan’s first Bond adventure, Goldeneye, also included a mega-powerful satellite, an MI6 double agent and the classic “bad girl first, good girl last” shagging pattern.
Meanwhile, Casino Royale went back to Bond’s roots by revealing how he (Daniel Craig) came to be 007, and how the subsequent mission forever shaped his outlook on the world. Falling too deeply in love too quickly demonstrated to Bond that his heart must never be exposed in the field — from then on, he would be a cold, brutal killing machine with a license to kill. The heartbreaking final moment of ultimate sacrifice leaves James Bond with an emotional scar he’ll never be able to recover from. Instead of silly explosions, invisible cars and surfing whilst avoiding the beam of a giant-ass satellite, Bond in Casino Royale was defining his now-legendary suave persona by participating in a high-stakes poker tournament, all in the name of fighting global terrorism. After 40 years of seeing one “type” of Bond (the debonair ladies’ man with a Walther PPK in tow), fans didn’t realize that “Bond, the Anti-Hero” was the more intriguing 007. That and “Bond girl” Vesper Lynd’s (Eva Green) depth as a character — she’s intelligent, morally ambiguous, strong-willed, and laudably uncompromising — make Casino Royale a reboot for the ages, especially when compared to the blatantly misogynistic, repetitive, visually haphazard Die Another Day.