After two delays, we’re only a few of months away from the release of No Time To Die, the 25th official James Bond film and the last in which Daniel Craig will duff up bad lads in the name of Queen and country. After this, he's hanging up his Walther PPK.
That means not only that expectations for Craig's swan-song are heightened – he's now done the longest stint as Bond, having first taken given the 007 codename in 2006's Casino Royale – but the franchise's fans are all a-twitter trying to predict who'll be the next James Bond.
So it's time to take stock. Think of this as the 007 Situation Room, into which all our intel on the next Bond film will be funnelled, assessed and categorised. This is everything we know so far about No Time To Die.
When is No Time To Die out?
At the moment, the release date for the UK is 2 April 2021, a full year later than planned after the coronavirus outbreak knocked it back firstly to November last year and now to April. It was 4 March 2020 when the date was first knocked back to 12 November, and then in October it shifted again to April.
Who’s in it?
Obviously Daniel Craig, in his Bond finale, and the MI6 gang – Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear and Ben Whishaw – all return. On the other side of the tracks, Rami Malek will be evil mastermind Safin, and Christoph Waltz will return as Blofeld.
Jeffrey Wright returns CIA agent Felix Leiter, as does Léa Seydoux as Madeline Swann. New characters include Lashana Lynch's Nomi, a fellow MI6 agent who will take the 007 codename while Bond is off duty, and Ana de Armas will play "irresponsible" (de Armas’ assessment, not ours) CIA agent Paloma.
What will happen in No Time To Die?
We know that at the film’s opening, Bond is kicking back in Jamaica after the exertions of Spectre, and isn't on active service. However, Felix Leiter pops up to say hello and ask if Bond wouldn't mind helping him find a scientist who's wandered off. It soon turns out the scientist has been abducted, and Bond gets onto the trail of "a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology", according to Universal's synopsis. Plus, it sounds like we'll be digging into Madeleine Swann's mysterious personal history too.
What else do we know about Safin?
We don’t know exactly what Safin’s game is as yet, though it sounds from the trailer like he wants to murder a lot of people. Speaking in a featurette which landed, Malek said: “What I really wanted from Safin was to make him unsettling, thinking of himself as being heroic […] Safin is a formidable adversary. James Bond has to adapt.”
Fukunaga agreed: “What he wants and what he’s willing to do makes him a very frightening character. Both personally to Bond, but also on a global level.” The director’s also described his villain as “hyper intelligent”.
“He is really the supervillain,” Barbara Broccoli told Empire last year. “He’s the one that really gets under Bond’s skin. He’s a nasty piece of work.”
There are some murmurings that he might end up being Dr No, though that’s all speculation at the moment. Keep a close eye on Safin’s hands, anyway. Julius No famously lost his and got some bionic replacements. Judging by the trailer, Safin seems to be wearing something like the gunmetal coloured kimono which No wears in Ian Fleming’s novel too.
What are the cast and crew saying about it?
In a teaser video, the No Time To Die director got on the hype train, promising that Craig's final spin as 007 "will be his most challenging and difficult" posting yet. He also mentioned that Bond has been retired for a full five years by the beginning of No Time To Die.
"It was essential to rediscover Bond: where is he?" he says. "After five years of retirement, who has he become? He's sort of a wounded animal struggling with his role as a double-0. The world's changed, the rules of engagement aren't what they used to be, the rules of espionage are darker in this era of asymmetric warfare."
On top of that, Fukunaga mentioned that "the people close to Bond, the people he considers to be family, are at great risk... it's a race, not only to save the world, but their lives." Interesting.
"It's Daniel’s last film as James Bond, so I think what they can look forward to is a kind of summing up, I guess, of all of the previous Bond films that Daniel's done," Whishaw told Collider during a chat at Sundance film festival. "There are strands from all of the films in it, kind of reaching a conclusion."
What will it look like?
We got a closer look at the MI6 gang with new images last June. Here we’ve got M (Fiennes), Eve Moneypenny (Harris) and Bill Tanner (Kinnear), presumably looking at something extremely important.
And a slightly narked Q (Whishaw), with a very natty new jumper. Maybe they're looking at the same thing. He's sorted his hair out too – the bird's nest has been replaced by an extremely sensibly combed job.
Then there's this reverse shot of Bond with Leiter (Wright) in a club, presumably the one in Jamaica which we've seen pretty extensively in the trailers so far.
And finally, there's the tête-a-tête between Bond and his adoptive brother Hans Oberhauser, AKA Blofeld, AKA Christoph Waltz.
Who's written No Time To Die?
Longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade worked on a script before Danny Boyle was attached to direct, but then Boyle brought in his regular collaborator John Hodge, who did Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, and The Beach. But Boyle walked in August 2018, citing "creative differences". That meant Purvis and Wade's script was revived and reworked first by its original writers, then by Casino Royale writer Paul Haggis. Finally, it was given a polish and extra laughs by Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, at Daniel Craig's request.
What is No Time To Die’s running time?
At 163 minutes – exactly two hours and 43 minutes in old money – No Time To Die will be fifteen minutes longer than Spectre, the previous holder of the record, according to the American film chain Regal. We had been led to believe that it could touch almost three hours when a Russian cinema chain suggested that much back in January 2020, but since then the Dutch Pathé chain has also suggested it'll be two hours and 43 minutes on its booking portal. So! Two hours and 43 minutes it is.
Craig's tenure as Bond has been one of records. Not only have we now seen the two longest Bond films in that time, but Craig has become the longest-serving Bond of them all. He passed Sir Roger Moore's mark of 4,527 days in the role on 11 April 2019.
Billie Eilish's theme song is pretty good
Eilish's song for No Time To Die – also titled 'No Time To Die', fortuitously enough – is almost exactly what you'd expect from the Billie x Bond collab. There's a lot of whispering, plenty of doomy lyrics and strings. Oh boy, so many strings. Have a listen here.
It’s very, very Bond, and it’s very, very Billie. Obviously if you were hoping for a poppers o’clock banger you’re going to be disappointed, but stately elegance has been the way of Craig’s Bond themes since the unfortunate Jack White and Alicia Keys incident back on Quantum of Solace.
The days when the Bond song outlined roughly what happened in the first two thirds of the film are long gone, but it still feels like there are a few crumbs there. What can we glean from the lyrics? Perhaps most potent is this line: “Faces from my past return.” Ben Whishaw has already suggested that No Time To Die will touch again on storylines from all of Craig’s films, but could it also be another pointer to the real identity of Safin? Lashana Lynch is a big fan at any rate.
Who's doing the rest of the music?
The two Sam Mendes-helmed Bond films – Skyfall and Spectre – were scored by Thomas Newman (who also worked on Mendes's 1917, as well as doing the music for the rather dowdier espionage flick Bridge of Spies) but when Mendes vacated the director's chair, Newman's odds of returning went with him. Instead, Variety reports that superstar film composer Hans Zimmer is working on the music for No Time To Die, in place of American composer Dan Romer, who left over that reliable old standard, "creative differences".
He was a late draftee, joining the production just three months ahead of the film's release (scroll down if you're after the date No Time To Die hits UK cinemas) and he only took the gig because of his close relationship with Bond's producer, Barbara Broccoli, saying: "I never thought I would do this. I honestly never thought about it other than that Barbara Broccoli is a really dear friend, I just love her as a human being, very much."
Ordinarily, an eleventh-hour remix wouldn't bode well for the end product. However, there aren't many safer pairs of hands than Zimmer's. You know Hans Zimmer – he's Christopher Nolan's composer of choice, and did classic scores for Gladiator, the Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, Blade Runner 2049 and, er, Muppets Treasure Island. So get ready for a character to stand on top of a building while Zimmer's patented 'bwwwwWWOOOOOMMMMMP' goes off.
Zimmer will be joined in the recording booth by ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, who told the NME: “Part of the legacy of the Bond films is iconic music, so I’m very happy to be bringing my guitar to No Time To Die.” Don't expect a Hand In Glove-style take on the Bond theme, though (even if that does sound like a good way to freshen the franchise up). Marr and Zimmer have previously collaborated on Inception and The Amazing Spider-Man, both of which were light on jingle-jangle guitar riffs. Which was an opportunity missed, we say.
Is it definitely Daniel Craig's last Bond film?
He's suggested that's the case, and it's the the presumption that everyone's going in with. It certainly feels like the cycle might be coming to an end given that we'll be returning to the arc which started with his first film, Casino Royale. Listening to the heartwarming speech he gave at the wrap party, it seems that he knows he's come to the end of his shift as Bond. He's now inhabited Bond's suits longer than any other actor, so it would be a major surprise if he decided to return. But, as a 52-year-old Sean Connery in a wig once said, never say never again.
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