Daniel Craig: Breaking the Bonds

Daniel Craig James Bond no time to die

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Daniel Craig James Bond no time to die

Daniel Craig: Breaking the Bonds

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Daniel Craig returns to the big screen this November, as James Bond in No Time to Die for his final turn as the world’s most famous spy. 

Quick! Have Moneypenny send your tuxedo to the dry cleaners, throw down a vodka martini – shaken, not stirred – and start polishing your Aston Martin. James Bond 007 is making his return to the big screen in, No Time to Die, the 25thfilm in the hugely successful and much-loved Bond franchise. 

James Bond no time to die
James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Paloma (Ana de Armas) in NO TIME TO DIE an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Slated to open around the world on 12 November, No Time to Die is one of the most anticipated Bond films of all time, and for several reasons. 

Firstly, the film was due for release in April, but the coronavirus pandemic put paid to that plan by closing cinemas across the world. That means millions of avid Bond fans haven’t seen anything of their ruthlessly debonair hero since the massive international hit Spectre in 2015.

Between then and now the Bond franchise has endured all sorts of controversy – star Daniel Craig, the actor who revitalized the Bond character and brought him into the 21st century, was the subject of intense speculation in 2016 after suggestions he was through playing the debonair superspy. 

All sorts of names were mentioned as being in contention to fill the coveted role, including Australian Hugh Jackman, Tom Hiddleston, and Idris Elba among many others.

Whatever was going on behind the scenes, the Bond team managed to lure Craig back for his fifth and final turn in the tailormade tux, and it’s looking as though No Time To Die is going to send him on his way with a bang. Make that a big bang.

James Bond no time to die
Nomi (Lashana Lynch) and James Bond (Daniel Craig) in NO TIME TO DIE an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

And this is the second reason for the pent-up anticipation surrounding this film. The internet has been abuzz with speculation about the film’s plot and how it might fit with the narrative established in the previous four films with Craig playing Bond.

From what little we know, it seems No Time to Die, while fulfilling all the required action for a Bond film, will also continue to explore the deeper psychological recesses of the Bond character.    

James Bond no time to die
James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) in NO TIME TO DIE an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

No Time to Die’s plot seems to pull together many of the strands of Bond’s fictional life. It begins with Bond living in quiet retirement from the spy game in the balmy Caribbean before he meets up with his old friend CIA agent Felix Leiter who somehow draws him back into the shadowy world of international crime and espionage to investigate the disappearance of a scientist. 

But here’s where it begins to get fascinating. The film includes dealings with the supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, introduced in Spectre, but now detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure by MI6. 

Californian-born director Cary Joji Fukanaga, tantalisingly says Blofeld, played by one of cinema’s most dazzling bad guys Christoph Waltz, will provide much of the film’s evil genius.

“Blofeld is an iconic character in all the Bond films,” Cary told Empire magazine. “He’s in prison but he certainly can’t be done yet, right? So, what could he be doing from in there and what nefarious and sadistic things does he have planned for James Bond and the rest of the world?”

But there is yet another thread to this anticipation. Close followers of the films know that it’s Craig’s portrayal of Bond that is responsible, at least in part, for the character’s resurgent popularity. He has brought a more nuanced and tortured interpretation to the role that sits seamlessly with the notion of a man whose entire life consists of killing those who seek to kill him and those he loves.

Daniel Craig No Time To Die
Universal Pictures

We also know that Bond strikes up a new relationship in No Time to Die with a woman called Madeleine Swann, played by French actress Léa Seydoux (real name, Léa Hélène Seydoux-Fornier de Clausonne).

Craig himself let slip some enticing morsels about what may be at play here. In an interview with Total Film, he hinted at the connection between No Time to Die and 2009’s Casino Royale in which Bond’s love interest Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green, dies at the end of the film.

 “We started talking about it [the script] and I went, ‘There might be a story we need to finish here – something we started in Casino [Royale],” Craig said. 

“’Something to do with Vesper, and Spectre, and something that was connected, in a way’. It started to formulate, and I thought, ‘Here we go.’”

Cary Fukunaga has also hinted at something along these lines, telling Fandango: “I think the emotionality was something that I was interested in and wanted to explore, and [I] wanted to get deeper into the psychology of Bond after the tragedy of his relationship with Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale.

“And now, with the new relationship, with Madeleine Swann, what bringing all that baggage into this new relationship means.”

The movie also includes actress Naomie Harris making her third turn as the alluring and always supportive Eve Moneypenny. One of the original characters conceived by author Ian Fleming as M’s lovelorn secretary, Moneypenny has a crush on Commander Bond. But Naomie has given Moneypenny a new lease of life bringing her out from behind the desk and into the field as one of Bond’s co-operatives.

Speaking to GQ magazine, Naomie said the film is an action-driven tour de force. “There was no putting it down, no stopping for anything,” she said. “It’s going to be fantastic and it has huge twists. It’s a tie-up of Skyfall and Spectre. But with massive, massive surprises that even had me like, ‘Oh, wow!’ So, I think we’re going to really shock people.”

All of which has audiences on the edge of their seats, and we are still two months away from opening night. Which, I guess, is just what the producers want.

And here’s one final piece of information. There’s only one person who really knows how the film will play out. Before filming was completed last year, the cast and crew made three different endings to the film so no one could spoil the surprise.

The conclusion is so secret, in fact, that not even Daniel knows which ending will be chosen. There’s only one person who knows the fate of Bond, and that is director Cary Joji Fukunaga. How’s that for international intrigue?

Historical note

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of secret organisation SPECTRE, is a character created by author Ian Fleming and introduced to the world in his 1961 James Bond novel Thunderball. The character also appears in 1963’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and 1964’s You Only Live Twice. Interestingly, Blofeld, who has been played by Telly Savalas, Donald Pleasance, Charles Gray, and Max Von Sydow, among others, appears in nine Bond films, including a 1983 remake of Thunderball entitled Never Say Never Again.

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