James Bond Is Having a Secret Agent Existential Crisis in No Time to Die
No Time to Die—Daniel Craig's final outing as 007—has had its fair share of drama, what with a director shake-up, on-set injuries and more. But, headlines and rumors aside, the 25th Bond film is looking pretty promising. With Phoebe Waller-Bridge on board to punch up the script, Cary Joji Fukunanga directing, and Rami Malek's introduction to the franchise—No Time to Die is shaping up to look pretty damn good. Here's everything we know so far, from the film's trailer, to its theme song, to its twice-delayed release date.
What's the movie about?
After rumors suggested that Daniel Craig's final 007 film would be titled Shatterhand—named after the alias of Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld from Ian Fleming’s 1964 novel You Only Live Twice—Eon announced the real title, No Time to Die, in August of 2019. That's either a pretty classic name for a Bond movie, or was created using a random Bond title generator, depending on how you look at it.
Here's the setup for the film, according to its official synopsis:
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.
Thanks to a new video where Fukunanga discusses No Time to Die, we now know a few more specifics about the plot. In the clip, the director says, "For me, as a writer and a director, it was essential to rediscover Bond. Where is he, after five years of retirement, who has he become?"
Fukunanga confirms that No Time to Die picks up five years after Spectre. And it sounds a little Skyfall-ish, with the director explaining that the film sees Bond struggling with the new world of espionage, and the new rules it developed when he was away. And, of course, he teases the threat of Rami Malek's villain, Safin, whom we'll get to shortly. Regardless, it sounds like it'll be a trip. Fukunanga says, "No Time to Die is a culmination of everything Bond has become. With all that he's seen, all the trauma, the loss, what is that mission that will be his most challenging and the most difficult?"
Who’s in the cast?
Daniel Craig, of course. And aside from Bond himself, there's a mixture of familiar and new faces in the supporting cast. Bond regulars Jeffrey Wright, Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and Ralph Fiennes will be back, and they'll be joined by Christoph Waltz, who's reprising his role as the villainous Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Lashana Lynch is joining the franchise as Nomi, a junior MI6 agent who takes over the 007 codename in the wake of Bond's retirement. News of her casting sparked a brief and predictable internet outrage over the famed spy supposedly being played black woman, but Lynch's character is an entirely separate creation who inherits the same codename. "It makes me feel quite sad for some people because their opinions, they're not even from a mean place," said Lynch of the outrage, "they're actually from a sad place. It's not about me.
And Oscar winner Rami Malek will appear as the mysterious villain Safin. Malek told reporters that he wouldn't play a baddie who was affiliated with "any act of terrorism reflecting an ideology or a religion," and that his character is a "very different kind of terrorist."
But fans suspect that Safin may actually be classic bond villain Dr. No. Malek, of course, wouldn't confirm anything when quizzed by Esquire UK, but he did hint that "there is a resurgence of an Ian Fleming influence on this film." Dr. No is an original Fleming creation, so bringing him back would definitely count as a "resurgence" of the author's influence.
What do the trailers reveal?
The movie's first full trailer showcased a lot of what we already knew—we're introduced to Lynch's character, reunited with Waltz's Blofeld, and finally get to see Malek's Safin—while offering some new clues about the plot. Bond rode off into the sunset with Seydoux's Madeleine Swann at the end of Spectre, but it looks like the two didn't get their happily ever after.
"Why would I betray you?" Swann asks early on.
"We all have our secrets," Bond replies. "We just didn't get to yours yet."
Given its prominence in the trailer, whatever mystery Swann is hiding will probably play a big role in the movie.
What's the theme song?
The filmmakers tapped pop star Billie Eilish to perform the movie's theme song, which is appropriately titled No Time to Die. The 18-year-old Eilish, who swept the 2020 Grammys by winning trophies for Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Album, is the youngest artist ever to record a 007 theme. And the tune is a perfect mixture of classic, vaguely ominous Bond orchestration, a haunting melody, and Eilish's signature crooning vocals.
What about those production problems?
The creation of No Time to Die was so problem-plagued that the press began joking that the 25th Bond film was cursed. First there was the changing of the directors: citing "creative differences," Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli announced in 2018 that Boyle had quit the project. (It's been rumored that Boyle wanted to kill off the iconic spy in the movie.) Broccoli later admitted that after his departure, the producers "considered shutting down the production entirely."
Boyle was replaced by Beasts of No Nation director Cary Joji Fukunaga, but the problems didn't stop there. While performing a stunt, Craig acquired ankle that required surgery and kept him away from the set for weeks. Then, a series of explosions rocked the set, leaving a member of the crew seriously injured. The film's production later made the news once again when a maintenance employee at the UK's Pinewood Studios, where the movie was being filmed, was arrested for hiding a camera in the women's bathrooms.
The film hit another stumble when it was announced in February that its Chinese premier and promotional tour would be cancelled due to Coronavirus concerns. No Time to Die isn't the only movie to be affected by the health crisis—all of China's 70,000 cinemas have been shut down while it grapples with the illness.
So when is the movie coming out?
Thanks to all of the on-set drama, the film's release was delayed. Originally slated to drop in the UK on October 25th, 2019, the movie's debut was first pushed to February 14th, 2020, and finally to April 8th, 2020. So, after all the production dramas, rumors, and delays, we'll finally be seeing the film around Easter.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.