by Jerrold Reber
“We all have our secrets. We just didn’t get to yours yet.”
And with that, just a scant few seconds into the first trailer for the latest James Bond installment No Time To Die, we discover just how quickly Bond springs back into action. The franchise will release a record 25th film as part of the long-lasting franchise, first introduced to audiences back in 1962. The films have seen their highs and lows over the decades, with six actors carrying out Ian Fleming’s literary hero in different interpretations. Everyone has their own Bond. Mine will always be both Connery and Craig.
We aren’t sure how long that Bond has been off in paradise enjoying his retirement but, at the end of 2015’s Spectre, Bond drove off into the sunset with the lovely Madeleine Swann in tow. Blofeld was in custody, the day was saved, his set of skills seemed to no longer be needed. Granted, Craig’s Bond films have shown a whole different side of Bond – trying to find one man’s place in a world where spooks have been overtaken by technology. Craig’s Bond films have been filled with complex and deeper narratives than other entries, a change most welcome to evolve forward.
The Bond franchise will roll into its 58th year when No Time To Die releases into theaters this coming April. The franchise has proven to be one of the most lucrative in Hollywood’s history, with 2012’s Skyfall raking in more than $1 billion globally and 2015’s Spectre earning $880 million. That doesn’t take into account inflation either over the years. (1965’s Thunderball would have grossed $2 billion at today’s prices.) The franchise waited on hold whilst behind-the-scenes issues were sorted out, but you can’t keep Bond down. Bond survived two long absences – and was well worth the wait. Without further ado, behold a film that’s been hotly anticipated for four years.
The 25th installment has had its share of delays since first announced. Star Daniel Craig took time off to be with wife Rachel Weisz and was thought to have quit after his infamous “slash my wrists” quote during Spectre press rounds. (Chalk it up to being worn thin of the same questions over and over again, as he announced his return in July 2017.) Then Sony’s overall distribution deal with MGM/UA expired. Sony had handled international distribution, whilst 20th Century Fox handled home entertainment release. The deal expiration lead to prolonged furlough until the rights were sorted out in May 2018.
MGM also pushed to shoot two back-to-back movies with Craig as the headliner, which would have brought his total to six films as James Bond. Craig balked at the offer, whilst screenwriter John Logan (responsible for making Bond and Blofeld half-brothers – which still annoys me to this day) was dismissed from his duties. Director Danny Boyle left the production in August 2018 over creative differences. Rumor states Boyle wanted to kill off James Bond – obviously, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson won’t let that ever happen.
No Time To Die is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the first American director to helm in the franchise. Fukunaga is responsible for HBO’s True Detective, as well as the Netflix mini-series Maniac and acclaimed Oscar contender Beasts of No Nation. Fukunaga is also credited with scripting duties alongside Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns, and Emmy-winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge. (Burns is uncredited, as his draft was one of the first and much changed.) Waller-Bridge was brought in by Daniel Craig himself to punch up the dialogue for production.
The official synopsis released by MGM says of the film;
“Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when an old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.”
If the trailer is to be believed, then Bond has much more at stake than he’s seen in other missions. The trailer thankfully doesn’t give us much in the way of Easter eggs or winks, instead revealing the type of frenetic energy that Craig’s Bond is accustomed to in his adventures. We get glimpses of SPECRTRE goons chasing Bond and Swann through an Italian cityscape. Bond returns to the British Secret Service, old faces surprised to see him checking into the building. Shots of Blofeld in captivity, as well as Swann walking side-by-side with the new Double-oh Seven, Nomi. Now, why Swann is working with MI6 much to Bond’s shock is a big question leading into the film, as well as how the new Double-oh Seven aides our titular hero. We still don’t know what the new villain Safin’s plan is, nor how Bond gets his old gig back.
That’s right – a new Double-oh Seven. Nomi is rumored to be the new Double-oh Seven with Bond’s retirement from active service. What, you expected MI-6 to hold Bond’s job while on a prolonged holiday? Though that plot point only bolsters my interest. My bet? Bond reclaims his moniker by film’s end, Nomi becomes the oft-mentioned Double-oh Eight, and the slate is fresh for the next actor to take over post-2020.
Daniel Craig returns for one last outing as James Bond before passing the mantle along to the next actor in line. Also reprising their roles are Lea Seydoux as lover Madeleine Swann, Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Rory Kinnear as Tanner, Ben Whishaw as Q, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, and Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Newcomers include Rami Malek as the villainous Safin, Ana de Arms as Paloma, Billy Magnussen in an undisclosed role, and Lashana Lynch as Nomi.
Filming locations include Jamaica, London, Italy, and Norway. Music will be composed by Dan Romer, taking over for Thomas Newman, and cinematography is handled by Oscar-winner Linus Sandgren. Universal, who now holds international distribution rights, will release worldwide whilst MGM will handle Stateside release with under its United Artists banner co-owned by Annapurna. No Time To Die is set to hit theaters Stateside and in the United Kingdom on April 8th, 2020.