Unlike his predecessor Pierce Brosnan, who was kicked out as James Bond, Daniel Craig, who has now overtaken the late Sir Roger Moore as the longest-serving Bond ever after nearly 15 years in the role, has bowed out in style.
Craig’s fifth and final outing as 007, No Time to Die, premiered worldwide on Thursday after 18 months of waiting due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Originally due for release in April 2020 and delayed three times since, reviews heaped praise on Craig’s last outing after a 15-year tenure as the suave British secret agent, which began with 2006’s Casino Royale.
From the look of things, he hasn’t made it easy for his successor as No Time to Die appears to be his strongest performance yet.
Craig is so extraordinary he leaves only scorched earth behind. There will be other Bonds for those who want them, definitely. But for everyone else, there’s Craig.
While most previous James Bond movies are more standalone than not, No Time to Die is very much a sequel to the previous films, relying on events from not just the previous one, Spectre, but Casino Royale and the others too. Things pick up with James Bond, now retired, living the good life with his girlfriend Dr Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). Swann’s past, left mysterious in the previous film, quickly comes back though and James is forced to make difficult decisions that bring him back into service.
Even the most devoted James Bond fans have to occasionally wonder how one character, played by so many different actors in so many different styles, has managed to capture massive audiences for almost six decades and counting. What magic lies in the makeup of 007 that keeps us coming back?
Why and how do we still love James Bond, as a movie-going public, after all this time? No Time to Die is the longest James Bond movie ever made, at163 minutes. It follows straight on from 2015’s Spectre (a rewatch of that could be useful), with James and Swann enjoying their retirement by driving around the spectacular Italian countryside in Bond’s classic Aston Martin DB5 and generally being blissfully happy. But not for long.
Craig has played as the fictional British Secret Service agent in Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), Spectre (2015) and now No Time To Die.
The actor believes the iconic character should not be played by a woman in the next franchise. Instead, he told Radio Times, producers should offer and create roles for women and people of colour that are of the same caliber.
There have been reports of a female lead taking over James Bond’s part in the series, but Craig told the outlet there’s a better way for the franchise to have representation.
“The answer to that is very simple,” he said. “There should simply be better parts for women and actors of colour. Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
In No Time To Die, Lashana Lynch portrays an MI6 agent that gives Bond a run for his money. Lynch, who plays the first female agent 007, has faced questions about whether she will become the next James Bond.
In an interview, Lynch told The Guardian that “with Bond, it could be a man or woman”.
“They could be white, black, Asian, mixed race. They could be young or old. At the end of the day, even if a two-year-old was playing Bond, everyone would flock to the cinema to see what this two-year-old’s gonna do, no?” she posed.
“We are in a place in time where the industry is not just giving audiences what it thinks the audience wants. They’re actually giving the audience what they want to give the audience,” she said.
Fans of the franchise refer back to the 007 books and short stories as a source of inspiration and guidance, which heavily implies Bond’s identity as a straight white man.
After Spectre in 2015, Craig told Time Out magazine he would rather “slash his wrists” than reprise the role but recently apologised for appearing flippant.
The Bond films are based on a character created by upper-class British writer Ian Fleming in novels published in the 1950s and 1960s. No Time To Die is currently showing in theatres.