No Time to Die marks an important moment for Bond, not only is it Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007 – it’s also the 25th film in the franchise.
But after 18 months on the shelves, its release delayed by COVID-19, the question is, will Bond’s 25th film land in a post-containment world?
Before audiences even got a chance to see this latest installment, the Craig’s Bond films have already grossed over £ 3 billion.
But given that the character is “a sexist, misogynistic dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War” (to quote Judi Dench’s M), why are we still watching? And, in more than 50 years of films, what is Bond’s legacy?
Bond’s impact on pop culture is unmistakable – imitated by the Bourne series and mocked in Austin Powers and Johnny English, Bond is regarded around the world as quintessentially British.
As American actor Rami Malek, who plays villainous Safin in No Time To Die, puts it: “I think it’s an indelible part of our cultural fabric and our cinematic tapestry.”
“It’s something we all grow up with, I believe, not just in the UK but all over the world. It can be quite difficult to find someone who doesn’t know someone who has seen it either. a Bond movie in their lifetime or passed it on to a family member, and that just evolves. “
Arguably what hasn’t changed on screen is the British sense of self-importance.
In Bond, Britain is still in the lead, a position now at complete odds with our status in the real world.
From an intelligence standpoint, on screen we are always ahead of the game but in reality just look at the Afghan and British intelligence assessment (that Kabul was unlikely to fall this year) to see how much more limited we are than the Bond franchise presents.
When it comes to fast cars and sharp suits, Army Chief General Sir Patrick Sanders said we needed “more Qs than 007”.
Cyber security expert Jamie Collier agrees: “The era of the James Bond genre sipping a martini may be over.”
“It’s full of vagueness about how intelligence works… unfortunately coding lessons might not be as glamorous as tuxedos and sipping martinis.”
But Ben Wishaw, who plays Q, doesn’t have time for those trying to root 007 in real life.
“I wouldn’t have thought that the films would relate to reality or even that they could be used as a reference.”
But what about Bond himself? In the past presented as the male ideal.
A mix of sophistication, brute force, and machismo – his power over women is as much celebrated as his ability to stop bad guys. But, luckily in recent films, Bond is starting to become more self-aware. He received a third dimension.
Under Craig’s watch, we saw a very different 007 than the one he inherited. A James who cries, who shows vulnerability, who doubts himself and who attacks his flaws and his past.
Since Specter in 2015, the rise of the #MeToo movement has brought to light gender inequalities and power imbalance. Following which, producer Barbara Broccoli promised that the new film “should reflect” the “huge impact” of this.
Craig’s Bond might show more emotional vulnerability, but is it enough for a film with such influence to catch up with society?
“We want to have a more interesting female character, we want to relate to them,” said Craig’s co-star and returning lover, Lea Sedoux.
And so for the first time we have a female 007 – Lashana Lynch says we should celebrate progress.
“The fact that it’s even an idea in the first place just reflects where we are in the world, where we continue to go, but also where the franchise is at.”
Perhaps it is fitting that in the evolution of Bond onscreen, themes around male identity and isolation are explored, reflecting the world we live in now. Craig’s Bond’s emotional vulnerability reflects a shift in conversation about what it means to be a man in the 21st century.
What if Craig’s Bond was all about solving his problems from the past, what about the future?
For the first time in No Time To Die, we have Lashana Lynch as a black woman 007, who says keep going, but also where the franchise is. “
As the oldest franchise in movie history, Bond has played a consistent role in our popular culture – emulated by others and loved around the world.
If Bond’s popularity (and perhaps even his credibility as a real man in 2021) is to continue, the films can never again become purely a handsome guy with a black tie and Walther PPK who kills baddies and then lays them down. women.
Daniel Craig’s contribution certainly addressed that legacy and created a spy deeper, more vulnerable, and complex than his predecessors, which put the Bond franchise in a better place for the next 25.