And we thought Christmas only came once a year.
The first full-length trailer for No Time To Die has been released, giving fans a flavour of what to expect from Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond.
The promo, which launched on Wednesday lunchtime, shows Rami Malek in character as the new villain for the first time and also signals a more feminist direction for the franchise.
No Time To Die is set to be released in April, but there have been one or two obstacles along the way – from Daniel Craig’s ankle injury to the decision to change director.
It was originally announced that Danny Boyle would be at the helm for Bond 25, but he exited the project last August due to “creative differences”.
US director Cary Joji Fukunaga stepped in, and there was a race against the clock to keep the film on schedule for its April 2020 release date.
“It has been an incredible honour, but it’s also just been really hard,” Fukunaga tells BBC News. “This was a very ambitious script for the time we had.”
“I got the role in the middle of doing press for Maniac [the Netflix series he directed], so I was doing interviews like this while trying to process the enormous excitement but also responsibility of taking on this project.
“And I was very aware that with Daniel’s departure, I had to get a script going and production going in a very short space of time. The lack of time was a sort of impetus for the pressure. It was like a very hot flame under our ass!”
Time constraints aside, the project had the added complication of having to go back to the drawing board after Boyle’s exit.
“I love Danny’s films, but on this one we basically had to start from scratch,” Fukunaga explains. “It was the desire of the producers that we sort of start anew and figure out a new storyline for this one.”
The writing process involved bringing Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge on board to help polish the script.
Five observations from the trailer
- Rami Malek is seen in character for the first time. Briefly. He’s in the trailer for about two seconds in total. To be fair he’s technically seen in other parts of it too but hiding behind a white mask.
- There’s a new (female) agent in town with a licence to kill. “Are you a double-O?” James Bond asks her. “Two years,” replies Lashana Lynch, which presumably means “Yes I am, thank you for asking.”
- But there are some familiar faces too. Christoph Waltz is back, having not been shot by Bond on Westminster Bridge at the end of Spectre. Jeffrey Wright’s Felix makes an appearance in the trailer too, along with Bond’s previous love interest Dr Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), Q (Ben Whishaw), M (Ralph Fiennes) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris).
- Daniel Craig is seen literally jumping off a bridge. Seemingly without a harness. The camera follows him over the edge as he plunges through the air. Fortunately there’s a secure piece of rope for him to grab on to, which is a nice stroke of luck.
- Malek’s villain might be Dr. No. Speculation was rife after fans noticed that neither the trailer nor the poster showed the character’s hands. Could one of the franchise’s most famous villains be revealed as the final member of the criminal network, Spectre?
Fukunaga refers to a new plot, but No Time To Die also appears to continue the overarching storyline which has run through the last four films.
Spectre’s ending seemed to tie that narrative up, so many had wondered whether the 25th Bond film would start afresh. But the inclusion of Waltz’s Blofeld in the trailer puts paid to that idea and suggests it’s a continuation – something Fukunaga appears to confirm.
“I like to think of this as picking up from all the stories, from Casino [Royale] all the way through,” he says. “And those who are fans will appreciate the layers that exist there, but I also think for new audiences, people who have never seen any of the films before, younger audiences, it’s strong enough that they can get involved.”
As well as Maniac, Fukunaga has previously directed films including Beasts of No Nation and a 2011 adaptation of Jane Eyre starring Mia Wasikowska.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the trailer is Lashana Lynch’s appearance as a new agent with a licence to kill.
Having a female action role front and centre of a James Bond marks a slight change in direction for the franchise. No Time To Die is the first Bond film since #MeToo, but would the film series have evolved in this direction anyway?
“Yes, I think so,” Fukanaga says. “Bond started evolving probably 25 years ago, when Judi Dench as M called out Pierce Brosnan’s Bond for being a misogynistic dinosaur and a relic of the cold war.”
(He’s quoting, almost verbatim, from one of the first scenes Dench and Brosnan shared in 1995’s GoldenEye.)
“I think Lashana’s role is not about being female, she’s just a younger generation,” Fukunaga says. “There’s the whole thing going around the internet right now about ‘OK Boomer’, and I just think of how younger generations challenge what the previous generations legacy means.
“And I think for Lashana, she has a lot to prove, she’s capable, she’s physical, she’s intelligent. And the world has changed, and she feels she’s inheriting a world that agents like Bond had operated in. And it’s like, they want to make their mark. That’s how I think of it. Less so than just because she’s female, we’re in a world where that’s not even the considerations. It’s more, ‘is she capable of being a double-O?'”
One person who became (temporarily) incapable of being a double-O was Daniel Craig, who injured his ankle while shooting the film. But, Fukunaga says, that wasn’t as disruptive to the schedule as you might imagine.
“If you think about a film this ambitious, this long, with this many stunts, the fact that we had one sprained ankle and a concussion over that period of time was a pretty high achievement,” he says.
“[Craig’s ankle injury] delayed us a little bit, but he didn’t miss a day of being on set after that. He was on set working out and doing PT [physical therapy] the entire time. We had to do a little juggling on schedule and scenes, but that was pretty much it.”
No Time To Die isn’t actually finished yet. Filming wrapped last month but the movie is now in post-production, which means Fukunaga “still hasn’t had time to really process” the whole experience. “I think I’ll probably have to sit down next summer and figure out what just happened,” he says.
But Fukanaga is less anxious about the social media reaction to the Bond trailer. “We don’t have any computer graphics animals in our trailer,” he laughs, “so we’re less worried about that.”