Seemingly, Matthew Vaughn knows a good James Bond when he sees one. His were the eyes that fell upon Michael Fassbender, decorating the Kerry man with the most dazzling of suits, during the many exhilarating set-pieces X-Men: First Class deftly demonstrated in a brisk two hour run-time; his was the brain that concocted the trilogy of excellent Kingsman adventures, each entry more indebted to outlandish spectacle than the cliffhanger that preceded it; just as it was his story about East End thuggery that launched Daniel Craig into the global stratosphere. Craig’s first Bond film, Casino Royale, widely considered the Liverpudlian’s best, and would have reunited the Liverpudlian actor with his Layer Cake director but for Barbara Broccoli’s desire to reinstate Goldeneye’s Martin Campbell as captain, chief and coordinator of the 2006 reboot. It scarcely harmed Vaughn: his Kick-Ass crackled with an electricity sorely missing from the more downbeat Quantum of Solace and Skyfall and may have even influenced Spectre‘s lighter, more louche turn in 2015.
That’s all conjecture, and doubtless Far Out readers will find this Irishman’s actions as questionable as Kevin McClory’s attempts to start up his rival series based on one spurious claim to authorship, but it’s hard to doubt Vaughn’s eye for theatre, tension and talent. Hidden behind the beholdings, beheadings and beatings that occurred within his drug opus comes another Layer Cake star who could very well prove himself the next Bond. His name’s Hardy, Tom Hardy, an artist just as hard in appearance as Craig, but complete with a versatility even more impressive than the incumbent actor and star.
Since exploding on the screens in 2004, Hardy has proven himself one of the most impressive stars of his generation, garnering plaudits, applause and praise from both the arthouse and the gatehouse in more recent years. Only Timothy Dalton has shown a comparable exhibition of roles that he can put on his C.V., but Hardy has shown more universal appeal doubling as two twin gangsters taking down the English capital. Though hardly the artistic triumph Peter Medak’s 1990 biopic The Krays was, Hardy imbued his 2015 script with emotional resonances neither of the Spandau Ballet actors essayed in their consecutive roles. These days, Gary Kemp is best known as the frontman for Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, while Hardy has contented himself the mercenary lead in Venom, as well as Cillian Murphy’s boisterous foil in the sprawling Peaky Blinders. Furthering his comparability with Dalton, Hardy threw himself into a drama that detailed the horrors that occurred during the Dunkirk evacuation. Just as Dalton’s caché has risen in recent years-his turns in Hot Fuzz, Penny Dreadful and Doom Patrol have exposed a gravitas that was hidden from the public eye for much too long-Hardy’s opportunity has become less of a viability, and more of a probability. As an Oscar nominee, Hardy has a pedigree that trumps even Dalton’s, once the venerable favourite of Irish stalwarts Peter O’Toole and Richard Harris.
And so it should be for the 007th 007, now less the springboard for greatness, but the great springboard to success. Beneath this vigour comes an actor entering into his physical and intellectual prime, channelling the experiences, endeavours and expertise of a man in his early forties. Mid-life suits the commander, as he has always settled for the frivolity and furnishings that have gifted him from youthful adrenaline to the stoic trappings that awaits a loyal pensioner. Pierce Brosnan, now very much at the pensionable age Bond has risked his life for, has himself nominated the actor. “I think Tom Hardy could be a good Bond. I’d be happy to see him do it,” Brosnan boasted to Mail on Sunday. “You need an actor who can put a bit of wiggle into it — that’s what makes Bond.”
Dalton, ever the consummate professional, has kept quiet about who should pick the mantle, while Craig—now watching his swansong delayed for the second time—won’t be commenting for quite some time. But Hardy, whom Vaughn considers one of “the best actors,” is almost certainly present at the back of their minds. And mindful as we are that the Craig era is now coming to its inevitable close, the time has come to choose who next will play Britain’s most beloved secret agent.
In this ever changing world in which we’re living, it makes you give in and try Tom Hardy’s smile.