by John K
It seems inevitable in action franchises. The tent pole star has gone off to greener pastures and they have to be replaced, but how to do it? How to replace a great action star is a question every studio has asked itself over the years. Franchises like Bourne, Fast and Furious, and The Terminator, have all tried and failed to replace their leading men over the last decade, without really hitting that reboot button. Now with the Transporter undergoing a similar challenge of trying to replace Jason Statham. It’s all got me thinking about the one franchise that is able to pull this off routinely since the 60’s. The James Bond Franchise which to date has pulled this off six times, so why has nobody else managed to do it?
The idea that it was a different time and place in movies doesn’t hold much water with me, The Pink Panther tried and failed to replace Peter Sellers repeatedly over the same period that Lazanby and Moore took over for Connery. It wasn’t a perfect transition but they did transition and by time Dalton came around it was an accepted fact that you could change Bond when the need arose. Personally I always think it was because Live and Let Die was such a great Bond movie that perfectly displayed Moore’s talents. Comparing that film with the like of the Bourne Legacy and you get the feeling that not as much thought was put into Bourne’s legacy.
Another problem is finding the right actor. Does anyone remember the guy they got for Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift because I don’t. Its something that’s difficult to replace. I mean you can get A-list talent like Christian Bale to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger and you still cannot get anything for your time and effort until you actually CGI Arnie back in. Bonds have been blessed in this regard, mostly because Bond is character that is very broad and gives you a lot wiggle room when it comes to portrayal. Compare Connery’s devil may care playboy to Dalton’s no frills bruiser. There are lots of differences between those two iterations and yet they still occupy the space called James Bond. Matt Damon and Jermery Renner’s Bourne characters meanwhile did not strike the same balance (I know they are technically two different character but they were really trying to replace Matt Damon).
So will The Transporter be the one to pull it off and join Bond up in that rarefied air of being truly immortal. Judging from the trailer, maybe…maybe not. Regardless it won’t be the last. In this era of hedging your bets Hollywood will always try the easy way before moving onto more difficult prospects and starting from scratch. Still with franchising becoming such a major part of the Hollywood landscape and all those actor contracts and ages making things difficult don’t be surprised to see this particular solution come up again and again.