What’s next on the horizon for the James Bond film franchise?
Poised to be the final film in the Daniel Craig-era of Bond films, the new trailer for No Time to Die has promised a satisfying conclusion where James Bond faces the ultimate villain. This being a very consequential film in one of the largest film franchises ever, inspires some closer examination.
It’s easy to forget with film franchises like Marvel, Harry Potter, Star Wars, among others, that James Bond was the original large-budget film franchise. Based on the novels of Ian Flemming, the film series began with Dr. No all the way back in 1962.
Since then, the role of Bond has been played by six different actors across 24 films (with the 25 soon to be released). Until Craig’s introduction (and likely during his first two films) the James Bond series didn’t really follow a consistent narrative. Sure, they almost always had hallmarks like the recurring characters, identical plot points, spy gadgets, a large-scale feeling among other recurrent themes.
Then came Skyfall (2012). The most personal film about James Bond in the series by a mile, the risky decision to stray away from the formulaic spy espionage story paid off for Eon Productions as Skyfall became the highest-grossing Bond film of all time.
This along with the success with cinematic universes, and other film series that follow the same story line inspired Eon to continue digging into the mysterious James Bond persona. This came to the fore in the series most recent installment Spectre (2015), where there was an attempt to connect the plots of the prior Craig films.
The reaction to this film was much more mixed than the overwhelmingly positive reviews of Skyfall. Many criticisms were plot related as the connections between it and the plots of other films seemed forced. This hasn’t seemed to sway Eon however, No Time to Die promises to tie together the Craig era bond plot line in a neat little bow. Will it be successful in this endeavor?
I believe that frequently the quality of movies with a clear hero are often dependent on the quality of their villain, this is perhaps most true of the James Bond series.
Villains like the original incarnation of Blofeld, Goldfinger, Jaws, Dr. No among many others.
The casting of Cristoph Waltz, a man who was born to play villains, was a good casting choice for Spectre, however, he wasn’t used to his full potential (look to Inglorious Bastards (2009) and see Waltz’s potential actualized). While Rami Malek isn’t a natural villain in my eyes, he’s a solid actor.
I like the broken mask he’s associated with, it gives him a unique look, more so than the generic eye scar a quarter of the Bond villains have had.
Much like the Blofeld in Spectre, this villain seems to have come out of nowhere to all of a sudden hold extreme significance in the affairs of Bond. Regardless, I hope Malek is given more to work with than his villainous predecessor because if so, I believe that he may have a stand-out performance much like he did in Bohemian Rhapsody (2018).
Speaking of actors, let’s talk about the James Bond who hates being James Bond, Daniel Craig.
Craig has made no secret of his apathy towards his portrayal of Bond, admitting in interviews how he has been ready to move on from the character for years now. He believed that Spectre was going to be his final film of the Bond series but it seems he has decided to come back to play Bond one final time.
Considering all of the allusions to finality in the trailer, it is safe to say that this will be Craig’s final film. This recent set hasn’t been afraid to sway from the James Bond conventions, so I predict that we will see Craig’s James Bond die on screen. Ultimately, James Bond will save the day, ending his own life to do so, the classic heroes send-off.
Just because Bond may perish, or Craig will be done playing the role, won’t by any means signify the end of the Bond series.
There will be a new actor to play Agent 007 but who they may be is up to complete speculation. If it were to be my choice, I believe that Idris Elba would make a fantastic James Bond, or if the studio wants to shake things up, I don’t see why the role of agent 007 has to be reserved for a male.
Naomie Harris’ portrayal of Miss Moneypenny has been the best in the series in my opinion. More than being a flirtatious desk clerk, she has engaged in important elements of the plot, most notably in Skyfall. I see no reason why she can’t become the new 007 after Craig retires from the character.
No Time to Die will serve as a crossroads for the Bond film series. The trailer suggests a lot of familiarities, along with many unfamiliar elements. There may be no time to die, but there is time to say goodbye to this era of the Bond franchise. What kind of note will the audience be left on?