Nearly every James Bond movie ends with a teaser note saying that Bond will return, but sometimes we have to wait quite a while. It has been four years, for instance, since Daniel Craig last wore Bond's suits, in 2015's SPECTRE. Now the actor is filming his final run as Britain's most famous superspy, and the film, NO TIME TO DIE, is set for release in 2020.
For a number of reasons, this new James Bond movie has raised more questions than most. So let's break down the movie we knew for a long time as Bond 25, and look at everything we know about NO TIME TO DIE.
NO TIME TO DIE hits theaters on April 8, 2020. The release date has been changed around a couple times; at one point it might have been a 2019 movie, then it was briefly set for a Valentine's Day release. The April 8 date is pretty firm now, however, so that's the one to put on your calendar.
We don't know when to expect the first NO TIME TO DIE trailer. In fact, we might not see one for a couple more months. But there is a very brief video which serves to announce the film's title, and in which we see Daniel Craig striding across the screen as Bond. (Side note: At some point we'll have to explore precisely how Craig merely walking a certain way conveys Bond's character.) Watch the video, above.
In GOLDFINGER, in 1964, the title villain pointed a laser at 007 as he was strapped to a table, and quipped "no, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die." That line became an apt summary of the entire Bond franchise, as one galaxy-brain bad guy after another has expected Bond to simply die. He never does.
The new title tells you straight out that there isn't any time to die, so Bond will probably survive! In fact, rumors say that Danny Boyle, the TRAINSPOTTING director who was once set to make the movie, left the production because he wanted to bring Daniel Craig's arc to a close by explicitly killing off Bond at the end of this movie. That could open the door for a new actor to step in, with a character who assumes the "James Bond" identity.
That story is unconfirmed, but there are two facts: James Bond is a big franchise that its producers aren't in any hurry to end. And there has never been an official acceptance of the idea that "James Bond" is just a code name. If the code name theory became explicit, then Craig's Bond could die, and another would simply take his place. But where would the fun be in that?
There's a short version, which is to mention that United Artists Releasing says that "James Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. His peace is short-lived when his 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."
That, however, is likely only the tip of the iceberg.
It's no small thing that Felix Leiter returns. The CIA operative might be the longest-running Bond film character who isn't M, Q or Moneypenny. Leiter appeared in the first Bond movie, DR. NO, played by Jack Lord, and has been played by seven more actors. There isn't even a hard and fast relationship between Leiters and Bond eras. David Hedison took over the role when Roger Moore became Bond, for example, then was replaced by John Terry when Timothy Dalton was cast, but came back as Leiter for the Dalton-led movie LICENSE TO KILL.
Knowing all that, Jeffrey Wright stands out. Including NO TIME TO DIE, he has played Felix Leiter in three of the five Daniel Craig Bond movies, beginning with CASINO ROYALE, in 2006. The Daniel Craig movies, while mostly working as standalone films, have more of a constant overarching story than most runs in the franchise. That's in part because the producers long ago ran out of Ian Fleming novels to adapt to film, and have leaned heavily on screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade for stories — and Purvis and Wade have woven a large narrative tapestry featuring all Fleming's characters, in a modern context.
So what does that mean for NO TIME TO DIE? We'd bet that Leiter will help pull together a few small plot threads from previous Daniel Craig movies. In the end, this might feel like the most "connected universe" Bond movie we've seen so far.
So far, we know very little about the new villain in NO TIME TO DIE, aside from the fact that he is played by Rami Malek, who won the most recent Best Actor Oscar®, for his work in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. He's playing the "mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology," but we don't know what that tech is, and in fact we don't even know the character's name!
Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the leader of SPECTRE, has been one of Bond's longest-running bad guys. Typically, it tool all of 007's skills to shut down any one of Blofeld's intricately-plotted power grabs. And yet Blofeld was finally defeated for many years by something mundane: A lawsuit.
The details aren't super-important now, but the basic story is that a conflict between Ian Fleming and screenwriter Kevin McClory meant that rights to SPECTRE and Blofeld, created by McClory for the THUNDERBALL film script, reverted to the screenwriter, while Fleming retained all the other elements. An agreement was eventually reached which allowed both elements to appear in and even provide the title for 2015's SPECTRE. In that movie, Blofeld, with a new backstory, was played by actor Christoph Waltz.
In 2017, Waltz said that he would not be back for NO TIME TO DIE. But the film has changed quite a bit since then. At that point, the film didn't even have a director. Given his revelations in the last film — spoiler alert — which included the orphaned Bond being adopted as a child by Blofeld's father, he's too big a part of the story to be cast aside. We're hoping for at least a significant Blofeld cameo, if nothing else.
The biggest NO TIME TO DIE rumor is that Waltz will indeed return, and that Blofeld will have several scenes from jail, where he lingers after the events of the last movie. Think of him like a Hannibal Lecter for the Bond series, as he is expected to advise Léa Seydoux's character on a course of action. And don't forget that Lecter escaped in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and we wouldn't expect Blofeld to remain caged, either.
Quite a few different filmmakers were considered and/or approached to make NO TIME TO DIE. The final choice was not the obvious choice. Cary Joji Fukunaga, is not yet a household name, but he directed the entire first season of HBO's "True Detective" and wrote IT CHAPTER ONE, in addition to directing the films BEASTS OF NO NATION, SIN NOMBRE and JANE EYRE.
Fukunaga is an inspired choice with a strong visual style. More than anything else, we can't wait to see the first trailer, just to get a sense of what he has come up with for the movie.
All images courtesy of United Artists Releasing / Sony Pictures.