Review on No Time to Die. The departure of James Bond
“Sexist misogynistic dinosaur.” The first female M identified her subordinate with these nicknames 26 years ago in a famous scene from the Golden Eye. It not only made an imaginary end to the era of its predecessors at the head of the secret service, the starchy men of retirement age, but also offered a feminine look and feedback, which brought Bond into a new era. However, Brosnan’s films never followed this relatively daring reckoning and gradually became a dozen action-makers, which brought Bond a new generation of viewers but offered nothing more than an Irish seladon scattering dry buzz after almost every murder, which in retrospect borders on a certain sociopathies.
Returning to the initial description of James Bond as a sexist misogynistic dinosaur, we find that at the end of Daniel Craig’s fifteen-year era, we no longer find sexism or misogyny in the title role in the series. In the latest film, It’s Not Time to Die, Bond is attentive, even welcoming, to women, especially with regard to the new 007 holder, Agent Nomi.
However, he has remained a dinosaur to some extent to this day. While driving in a nearly forty-year-old Aston Martin V8 model (already ridden by Timothy Dalton in Breath of Life), the new agent 007 unpacked a bloated DBS model that had just left the production line. Although we wouldn’t have guessed it according to Craig’s physique, he’s 53 years old – he’s leaving like Roger Moore’s second oldest Bond. It is therefore not surprising that the topic of old age is ubiquitous in the latest Bond film.
James Bond remains analogous within the film industry. At a time when virtually all the surrounding franchises are falling apart into more and more spin-offs and series that are constantly saturating the interest of fans, Bond remains loyal to cinemas and the silver screen. There would be a lot of material for other films – spy retro from the 60’s, stories of other 00s, Bond as a mentor, practically anything can be made up, Bond’s world is busy enough for that.
It is possible that this will eventually happen after the departure of Daniel Craig, but so far each Bond has retained the hallmark of an extraordinary cultural event, the premiere of which is attended by members of the British royal family. And the strength of the brand is also hoped for by covid, impoverished by covid, who certainly acknowledge that Bond will not watch the stream at the same time, which is becoming less and less common.
At the same time, Daniel Craig’s farewell is certainly such a cultural event, although it is probably much different than many people expect. Trailers managed to deceive with their bodies and, despite several advertising and interrupted advertising campaigns, they did not reveal many twists and turns, including one major one. Viewers will be very surprised in many places and it is not certain whether it is always pleasant.
However, one person does not care at all. There is no time to die, it seems to be just the kind of film that Daniel Craig wanted. No other Bond representative had such a creative contribution and at the same time control over the final work – in the last two Bonds, Craig even figured as a co-producer. He then established himself as one of the screenwriters by the award-winning creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who, for example, is behind the Monster series. To bring a fresh breath of incredible sensitivity and coping with the traumas he is an expert on to Bonds.
No time to die is conceived from start to finish as Craig’s purely personal confession to Bond, who doesn’t take napkins and in many ways is more subversive than any of the 24 films before him. Craig’s relationship with Bond could be simply described as lovehate. He oscillated between the obligatory respect for the cultural icon and the undisguised opposition to the box into which every representative of 007 will naturally fit.
Sean Connery struggled with similar feelings, burning out so much during five films that he threw it on the producers’ heads and did not return until after a long persuasion (and a very fat check). Craig was so upset by Specter’s film that when asked if he would return for the fifth time, he said he’d rather cut his veins. In the end, they remained intact, and Craig negotiated a great deal of creative freedom (and a very fat check) instead.
He can afford it for one simple reason – as the most objectively experienced Bond actor with the most varied register, he can simply do it. He thus brings a large range of unprecedented emotions to the last Bond – melancholy, loneliness, doubts, tragedy, protectionism.
On the other hand, none of this is the qualities we commonly associate with James Bond. Daniel Craig knows this very well, and that is why he goes into it to the fullest and destroys everything that “orthodox” fans project into Bond in full parade. Craig enjoyed himself with them and immediately after his cast he received an extreme lens from them – too blond, too Russian looking, too gentle, too hard, too blue-eyed (this aspect is very nicely accentuated by the last bond).
It was still in the early days of social networking, but the media’s heightened opposition to it was huge until the premiere of Casino Royale. To cast it on Facebook or Twitter nowadays, either throw a bow or the producers throw it away to appease the loudmouths – the future Bond must also prepare for similar reactions.
On the other hand, the grief of some critics and spectators that Bond has become a whimpering kitsch on his old knees rather testifies to the ignorance of the series. Melodramatic Bond is not something we wouldn’t have here in the past. There is no time to die in the series closest to the sixth film In Her Majesty’s Service, as evidenced by the number of references, whether it is a quote from the famous phrase “We have all the time in the world” or a musical undertone of the closing credits.
The first and for a long time the last attempt to humanize a superhero agent and show that he is capable of genuine feelings, even against a woman, was unfortunately outraged at two things: People still wanted Connery and his successor George Lazenby was – despite all efforts – terrible acting wood. The main idea of the film, when Bond wants to settle down, was not sold, and within the series this premise remained rather a curiosity for many years.
Daniel Craig’s farewell also concludes with a relatively exceptional Bond chapter, in which all the films of one representative form a closed pentalogy. The individual parts follow each other and the actions from one film have consequences in others – it was not usual in Bond games at all. On the surface, however, it is necessary to add that this was done rather by chance and without a clear plan, which led to significant fluctuations in quality and acceptance of individual films. At the same time, similar qualitative fluctuations have recently been able to kill even stronger brands such as Star Wars or comic films from DC.
While odd craigs (Casino Royale, Skyfall, No Time to Die) were mostly praised, even pieces (Quantum of Solace and Specter) were rather embarrassing. In the case of Quantum of Solace, this was mainly due to the ongoing strike of screenwriters, due to which part of the film had to be written and rewritten on the spot, and in the case of Specter, the disgusted dislike of Craig and director Mendes to return to the Bonds.
It was the creative improvisation in previous works that was reflected in the large number of open storylines, which need to be closed in some way in the last craigovka, which often does not happen in a satisfactory way. For example, you can see how the creators can’t cope with the terrible decision from the previous film to supplement Bond’s nemesis Blofeld with a plot from the rank of Cimrman’s “wind from the mountains”. On No Time to Die we could find a lot of other mistakes – Rami Malek’s performance will hardly belong to the Padua pantheon and the hi-tech plot with nanobots is more of a smile, but all of these are rather trifles in the context of the main idea.
We don’t have to worry about Daniel Craig – a recent contract with Netflix to continue the detective comedy On Knives, where he gusto-cut a Poirot detective with a bizarre Southern accent, made him one of the highest paid actors of today. But what will happen to James Bond remains unclear. Craig burned all the bridges behind him and takes his concept of Bond with him from the series. His successor will thus have an ungrateful role not to be “as much as Craig.” On the other hand, this uncertainty is a refreshing diversification. We are not asking the next Bond about WHO it will be, but also HOW it will be.