Bond, James Bond, is headed back to the big screen for 007’s 25th movie, due for a release right before Thanksgiving in November (exact dates vary depending on where you live). As is befitting a secret agent, there aren’t many details about the film that are public knowledge yet, but here’s what we do know. [Updated March 4]
For a long time, Bond 25 was known simply as Bond 25. Fans were hoping that the official title might be revealed on April 25 of 2019, during a live-streamed presentation about the film broadcast from the Jamaican villa where Bond author Ian Fleming wrote all the original novels, but that was not the case. Instead, we all had to wait until late August before the official James Bond Twitter account announced that the new entry will be called No Time to Die.
The first trailer for the film dropped on December 4, 2019, and it shows Bond leaping from aqueducts, getting trapped under ice, and withstanding a barrage of gunfire in his bullet-proof, classic Aston Martin DB5. He also faces possible betrayal from Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) after settling down with her at the end of Spectre, a (friendly?) rivalry with a fellow 00 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch), and a dangerous new villain — Rami Malek’s scarred, masked Safin.
“History isn’t kind to men who play God,” Bond warns Safin in one of the trailer’s best lines, so it seems safe to assume that the latter’s evil plan is quite ambitious and very dangerous.
There were very few details about the plot before the trailer came out, and while it hints at a globe-trotting story of betrayal and friends and foes — both new and old — the synopsis explains a little bit more.
“In No Time To Die, 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.”
Cary Fukunaga, known for True Detective Season 1, Beasts of No Nation, and Maniac, will direct No Time to Die. Fukunaga, who said that Daniel Craig is his favorite Bond, signed up to direct in September 2018 after original director Danny Boyle left the picture in August, citing “creative differences.” The switch in directors pushed back the film’s release date, as it was initially set to come out in November of this year.
“I want to make sure that this run of films, which has been fantastic, has a great next chapter and just keeps upping the ante,” Fukunaga said at the event.
In addition, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns, and Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge are writing the script.
It was touch-and-go there for a while, though: Craig told Time Out London back in 2015 that he’d rather “break this glass and slash my wrists” than play the suave spy one more time. But he’s back for his fifth outing, having first appeared as 007 in 2006’s acclaimed, gritty Bond origin story Casino Royale, and according to Variety, he will be paid $25 million for his efforts, with some reporting that he will also get a cut of the profits. Despite the earlier rumors that Craig was looking to exit the franchise, the 51-year-old appeared to be in good spirits at Thursday’s event.
“The movies have been an event. For myself, I remember going to see them as a kid, and they were a moment. A new Bond coming out was incredibly exciting.”
In addition to Craig, many of Bond’s familiar allies are returning as well. Ralph Fiennes will reprise his role as Bond’s boss, M, having taken the role at the end of Skyfall when Judi Dench’s version of the character died. Rory Kinnear will return as Bond’s ally Tanner, while Ben Whishaw will once again play MI6’s resident inventor, Q.
Léa Seydoux will reprise her role as Dr. Madeleine Swann from Spectre, and based on the trailer, her character will have a major part to play. Swann and Bond seemed like they were headed for “happily ever after” at the end of the previous film, but now Bond thinks she’s betrayed him. Making things worse is Blofeld (once more played by Christoph Waltz), who tells Bond that she has a secret that will be “the death of [him].”
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Wright also makes a return to play Felix Leiter, the CIA agent who aided Bond in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Naomie Harris is back playing Moneypenny as well, but Harris wouldn’t say if the character would stick with her desk job or return to the field.
“I can’t say; that’s way too much information, unfortunately,” she said at the event. “You’ll have to wait and see.”
New cast members include Captain Marvel’s Lashana Lynch, who we learned in the trailer is another 00 agent named Nomi. This is intriguing because there were already some reports that Lynch’s character would take on the iconic code number after Bond’s retirement, and that the film would see Bond come out of said retirement to reclaim it. That doesn’t appear to be exactly the case, but Nomi does threaten to “put a bullet” in Bond’s knee if he gets in her way.
Blade Runner 2049’s Ana De Armas, who recently co-starred with Craig in Knives Out, also joins the cast, as do Dali Benssalah and Swedish-Danish actor David Dencik, who is known for dark crime dramas like Top of the Lake. Billy Magnussen also co-stars in the new film, and it’s perhaps worth noting that he worked with director Fukunaga on the Netflix limited series Maniac.
Rounding out the cast is Oscar-winner Rami Malek of Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody fame. Malek plays on opera mask-wearing villain that promotional materials have identified as “Safin.” There are some theories that he’s actually playing an updated version of Dr. No, the titular villain of the first Bond movie. That would make a certain bit of poetic sense, as Craig’s Bond tenure began with an adaptation of the first novel, Casino Royale. Might he face off against the first film’s villain to end it?
Malek was unable to attend April’s event, but he sent an ominous video message: “I promise you all, I will be making sure Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in this, his 25th outing,” Malek said.
— James Bond (@007) April 25, 2019
Back in April, executive producer Barbara Broccoli revealed where the film would start.
“Bond is not on active service when we start the film, so he is actually enjoying himself,” she said. “We consider Jamaica Bond’s spiritual home, and he starts his journey here.”
Bond will come out of retirement when Felix Leiter comes calling, seeking Bond’s help in rescuing a kidnapped scientist which sets them on the trail of a villain with a deadly new technology. Though there was no footage, since primary shooting had yet to begin, the live stream ended with a shot of one of the sets, presumably Bond’s Jamaican villa. No Time to Die will also shoot in London, Norway (where filming has already been done), and Matera, an ancient, cliffside city in Southern Italy.
In mid-January of 2020, the official James Bond Twitter account announced that 18-year-old pop sensation Billie Eilish would be writing and recording the theme song for No Time to Die, making her the youngest artist to earn the distinction. Just a couple of weeks later, Eilish went on to win five Grammy awards, for Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist, also becoming the youngest ever to achieve that feat.
Leading up to the 92nd Academy Awards on February 9, it was announced that Eilish would be participating in a special performance, leading many to speculate that she might debut her Bond theme song then. Though it turned out she had merely been tapped to sing a rendition of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” during the ceremony’s In Memoriam segment, fans only had to wait a few more days before the James Bond Twitter account officially premiered her song, aptly titled “No Time to Die,” which you can listen to above.
No Time to Die will be distributed in North America by MGM and overseas by MGM courtesy of Universal (note: Rotten Tomatoes is part of the Universal family). This marks a big change for the franchise — for a decade, Sony had distributed the Bond films, but its contract expired in 2015. (Note: The article originally said that MGM was distributing in the U.S. in association with Annapurna; it has since been corrected.)
After initially being scheduled for a November 8, 2019 release, and then a February 2020 premiere, and then an early April release, No Time to Die will now debut on November 12 in the UK and a handful of other international markets before opening on November 25 in the US and most of the rest of the world, reportedly due to concerns about global theater closures in the wake of the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
The new release date comes just two weeks after the premiere of Marvel’s Eternals and one week after the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, and puts it up against the Disney animated film Raya and the Last Dragon.
Craig’s Bond films have followed a pattern on the Tomatometer: One critically lauded film in the 90s, followed by a barely Fresh film in the 60s. He kicked off with Casino Royale, his highest-rated film ever at 94%, and followed up with Quantum of Solace, which scored 65%; Skyfall was Certified Fresh at 92%, and then Spectre became Craig’s lowest-scoring Bond film at 63%. It’s worth noting, too, that all three of Cary Fukunaga’s films as director have been Certified Fresh.