With the release of the first No Time to Die trailer, we finally have something to talk beyond the usual uninformed conjecture. Naturally, I had some thoughts. So let’s chat Bond, James Bond again, shall we?
This is the first moment I’ve been on the plus side of expectations for Bond 25. The No Time to Die trailer has a real momentum and focuses on gonzo stunts. The great use of music helps — as it does in any trailer, obviously, but Bond relies so heavily on sonic familiarity. The Bond score tickles innards we forget existed.
It seems we’re again dwelling on 007 nostalgia, and that’s okay as long as it also doesn’t become creative shorthand. The trailer seems to suggest that Malek’s villain has ties to Blofeld (ugh), but also shows Blofeld acting as some kind of Hannibal Lecter. Familiarity is different that “everything is connected.” Everything is connected is contrivance. Using Blofeld as a consultant merely feels lazy. Bond did this in Skyfall with Silva. Based on the trailer, this feels like a shortcut for giving Blofeld continued relevance even as he’s (hopefully) forced to the background. I’d rather have this than all the other options, honestly.
All of these familiar elements, the elements that have been passed on from the regrettable SPECTRE, can be used to support Craig’s final, standalone adventure. Dispense with the connectivity and try less hard to give James Bond greater meaning. Just entertain me and dispense with the rest.
Rami Malek’s masked villain in No Time To Die (2020).
Deeper Thoughts After Multiple, Obsessive Viewings of the No Time to Die Trailer
Car chase. Car chase. Motorcycle chase. Helicopters. “Bungee” jumps. Car chase, There’s a concerted effort to foreground the film’s action elements. I’d expect nothing less, but this trailer went out of its way to emphasize that the old man can still do the job. And Craig looks far more youthful here than he did in Spectre.
A sprightly Daniel Craig as James Bond in No Time to Die (2020).
Speaking of old man. We’d already prematurely labeled Craig’s Bond an old man in Skyfall. This time, we’re also falling back on some old Brosnan tricks by forcing the pseudo-retired agent back into action alongside a young 00 played by Lashana Lynch. Instead of Judi Dench’s quip about misogynist dinosaurs, Lynch tosses out some serious “OK, Boomer” vibes when she says, “The world’s moved on, Commander Bond. If you get in my way, I will put a bullet in your knee.” Let us hope that we’re not forced to deal with any more instances of internal double-crossing.
Lashana Lynch as 00-agent Romi “OK, boomered” James Bond in No Time to Die (2020).
The line that most reflects how I feel about the No Time to Die trailer comes from Lea Seydoux’s Madeline Swann. “You don’t know what this is,” she says. No. We really don’t. Unlike the Spectre trailer which gave away almost the entire film, we’re kept wonderfully off-balance. Glimpses of stunts, flourishes of the Bond theme and flickers of old frosty relationships (“So you’re not dead.” “Hello, Q. I missed you.”) give us the backbone of necessary familiarity. The rest of the trailer treats us to interesting imagery like the mask worn by Rami Malek’s villain, glimpses of Jamaican beaches, sun-drenched mediterranean locales, and more snow (!) and ice (!!).
Bond, semi-retired, at his home in Jamaica.
It’s a perfect tease. I can’t wait to see more.
No Time to Die Trailer Quick Hits
Wright-Leiter returns in No Time To Die. Huzzah!
Positives: More 00 agents (a badass black woman!). Wright-Leiter returns for “a favor, brother.” Did I mention the snow? Malek’s villain does not appear to be Dr. No unless they’ve gone totally off the reservation. Ana de Armas fully armed.
Meh: Blofeld as Hannibal Lecter.
Negatives: The nagging suspicion that somebody is still going to double-cross Bond from within his circle (Madeline? Lashana’s Nomi?). Just let the man worry about the real, proper villains and henchmen and henchwomen, please? That used to be enough.
The James Bond Twitter account officially (and finally) threw us a bone(r). The title for the next James Bond movie will be…. [drum roll] …NO TIME TO DIE.
Oh, I’m sorry. I noticed you nodded off during my title recitation. I’ll try that one more time.
You did it again. You fell asleep. One more time. Real quick.
Indeed. The Bond producers summoned the powers of the Bond name generator and came up with a title so prosaic that nobody could possibly argue. I’ve come to the conclusion that the #Bond25 codename “Shatterhand” announcement was just an informal crowdsourcing. Based on the Internet’s violent reaction, they popped their heads back in their hole like Punxsutawny Phil and regrouped until the end of Winter. I’ll say it again — “Shatterhand” is no more bizarre than Goldfinger — but because the hive mind doesn’t recognize it as something with origins in an actual Fleming text they went to grab their pitchforks at first sight.
My first reaction to NO TIME TO DIE was complacency. There’s no real room to argue because it’s just not worth the effort. It’s a name designed to sound exactly like six other James Bond movies and instill confidence through familiarity. So familiar in fact that I felt I’d been there before. It wasn’t until author Mark O’Connell Tweeted this nugget that I understood why.
With a film produced by Albert R. Broccoli, written by Bond scribe Richard Maibaum & directed by the first 007 director Terence Young firmly in mind, the 25th bullet from EON Productions knows EXACTLY its heritage & historical resonance for our man James…#NoTimeToDie#Bond25pic.twitter.com/TR6R7uYKfj
— MARK O’CONNELL – Writer, Author, Bond fan. (@Mark0Connell) August 20, 2019
While Mark lauds the Bond-extended source of the title, I’m not convinced that it makes it sound any more compelling. NO TIME TO DIE hangs there limply, referential or not.
I’ve already read a dozen thinkpieces about what the title might mean. All I can say about that is stop. There’s nothing here to analyze. There’s no overt connections to Spectre. Take a breath and count to ten. Shatterhand had all the connotations. If you want to analyze something start there. Unless you’re feeling like the “NO” in NO TIME TO DIE has to do with a certain Dr. and then I’d say you might probably be on to something… it is set in Jamaica after all. That places us in the realm of titles featuring puns and, well… I don’t feel like commenting on that potentiality.
I’m not passing judgment on the film based on a title. I’m not delusional. As we dissect the trickle of information coming out of the EON camp as we await the 2020 release of the 25th Bond film, however, every small piece of news contributes to a bigger picture. It’s still hazy, but I’m not overly optimistic that EON has committed to creating rather merely responding to what they think the broadest marketplace wants. That doesn’t guarantee box office dollars. It almost certainly guarantees a lack of creativity.
Every long-tenured Bond (Dalton and Lazenby excluded) has started by daring to reinvigorate the formula before devolving into paint-by-numbers and/or self-parody. Looking at the Craig era from the inside out, I’m getting the sense that we’re re-living the end of the Brosnan years in all the worst ways. After a strong sequence of films, each faced a final film to define the generation.
Consider how differently we’d feel about Brosnan’s Bond if Die Another Day had been a successful film. After we learned about the creative upheavals and cavalcade of writers on Bond 25, how confident were you? Now that we’ve got the title — NO TIME TO DIE — a phlegmatic title that emanates with the banal stink of Die Another Day, how are you feeling?
Daniel Craig and Cary Fukunaga on the set of NO TIME TO DIE.
It all depends on how much faith you put in Cary Fukunaga. That’s the one concrete plus. But then again — Lee Tamahori once carried that same type of outsider cache. No one could have anticipated that the filmmaker responsible for Once Were Warriors (1994) would produce the fever dream that is Die Another Day.
Krissy (@krissy_myers) and James (@007hertzrumble) come to you live from an iconic James Bond location to discuss the folly that was the Bond 25 presser, being ‘meh’ about Bond in 2019, and how we’d make “Jim Bob” fresh again.
#2. Kronsteen Has Anticipated Every Possible Variation and Countermove
Don’t be a MacAdams. Like a Russian Boy Scout, Tov Kronsteen has studied his opponent and consequently may now anticipate every possible variation and countermove. There is no win or draw against Tov Kronsteen — there is only CHECKMATE.
This is the second in a series of 25 designs inspired by the Bond movies. I’ll go in order from Dr. No through (if it ever comes out) #Bond25. (I’m skeptical.) I’ll put all of the designs up in the #Bond_age_ Threadless and Redbubble pages for you to purchase on your favorite clothing and paraphernalia. Mouse pads, backpacks, bedding, phone cases. So much stuff you don’t need! T-shirts, however… t-shirts are essential to being. They’re essential to representing the inner, eccentric YOU.
Played by Polish actor Vladek Sheybal, Kronsteen was the brilliant chessmaster and secondary villain in From Russia with Love. It is Kronsteen that orchestrates the trap in which Spectre is to defame and kill James Bond, the British agent responsible for the death of SPECTRE agent Dr. Julius No.
Inspired by Kronsteen’s chess game against Canadian Douglas MacAdams in From Russia With Love and his declaration that he could game 007 in a similar fashion, I wanted to design something that reflected his egomania and his skills at chess… but with a lighter heart. That was hard because Kronsteen’s pretty darn serious. I decided to refashion his bow tie in a bold, checkerboard pattern that’s both at odds against the seriousness of the bitmap design and the character’s personality. I also considered a Siamese Fighting Fish shirt and I obsessed over possible permutations featuring Daniela Bianchi, but those were probably too hot for TV.
Enjoy, Tov. In the next week or so I’ll have a Goldfinger-inspired t-shirt coming your way. I hope I can do justice to the Goldfinger idea since that’s the one that started this ridiculous campaign of t-shirt designs. Order KRONSTEEN at Threadless or Redbubble in black or communist red. They’re like Ferraris. You can’t have any color you want. You can only have the colors I say.
We learned an interesting tidbit about the soon-to-be-in-production Bond 25 this morning. Shooting begins on April 6th at Pinewood Studios under the working title “Shatterhand.”
Seeing as how “Shatterhand” serves as Ernst Stavro Blofeld alias in Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice novel, we can derive a few choice tidbits from this small piece of information. But first let’s rewind to talk about the goings on since my last dispatch about the long overdue Bond 25 production.
Bourne Ultimatum screenwriter Scott Z Burns has been added to the team of wordsmiths with their hand in the Bond 25 pot. Burns has been brought on, reportedly, for a rewrite on the drafts by Purvis and Wade and Haggis and maybe even Mr. Magoo, who, though uncredited, must have had a hand in crafting the perfectly sensible Spectre plot. Burns has garnered a reputation as being one of the go-to screenwriting doctors in Hollywood.
A number of sources have suggested that Burns’ involvement involves more than a polish, and we shouldn’t be surprised if he receives top billing when all is said and done. He’s done uncredited emergency surgery on films such as The Bourne Supremacy, Widows and Star Wars: Rogue One. I love the fact that EON has brought in fresh blood to “overhaul” the Bond 25 script.
And now what “Shatterhand” tells us about the potential direction of Bond 25.
BLOFELD IS BACK. Seeing as how the term comes from the Blofeld alias, we’re all but assured of a re-emergence of the Blofeld character. As of today, however, Christoph Waltz was still out — so the production will be returning to the amorphous Blofeld appearance which Fleming made a prominent component in his novels. The Bond films primarily made use of this element because of casting convenience. EON will once again return to the rotating Blofeld theory as a means to start fresh after Spectre, but only a little fresh.
GARDEN OF DEATH? In the novel You Only Live Twice, James Bond mourns the death of Tracy by retreating into an alcoholic stupor, in order to revive the slagging career of the agent, M sends him to Japan on a cupcake diplomatic mission. While in Japan, the head of the Japanese Secret Service (Tiger Tanaka) challenges Bond to assassinate a Swiss botanist by the name of Dr. Guntram Shatterhand who has been employing a garden of death to facilitate a rash of suicides by Japanese citizens. Shatterhand is, of course, the refashioned Blofeld, having undergone another physical transformation. I’ve said from the first moment EON announced the return of Blofeld that the only reason to see this character in a Bond movie again would be to film the unused portions of You Only Live Twice, i.e. the Garden of Death.
AVENGING THE DEATH OF TRACY MADELEINE. Tracy can’t be Tracy, but Tracy could be Madeleine and the last thing that Bond needs is another dead woman to avenge. Listen — we’ve seen this before. And better. Madeleine Swann pales in comparison to Vesper. Does anyone believe that Bond fell madly, deeply, truly in love with Madeleine in Spectre? Purely a contrivance to service a poorly constructed narrative. Spectre didn’t earn yet another revenge plot a la Vesper or Tracy.
I’m skeptical, too, Madeleine.
007hertzrumble’s “Shatterhand” Commentary
The Internet is already on fire because “Shatterhand” is “ridiculous” (the Daily Mail) and a “face-palm” (The Guardian). First point, before we go any further down this road. IT’S A WORKING TITLE BECAUSE IT’S NOT OFFICIAL. The working title for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 was “How the Solar System Was Won” for goodness sakes. It might be “Shatterhand;” it might not be “Shatterhand.” I for one hope “Shatterhand” turns out to be legitimate, because LIGHTEN UP, EVERYONE.
Since when did James Bond fans turn into such dour goddamn stick-in-the-muds? Line up “Shatterhand” with Goldfinger and Thunderball and it doesn’t seem out of place at all. Daniel Craig’s been a game player in this saga, but the series has lost one of its earliest and most vital components — a sense of humor. Calling your movie “Shatterhand” suggests some of that devil-may-care whimsy we’ve been missing in the Craig era — and you’d need it if you’re going to dare showcase a Garden of Death. Just because Cragiers fell on a couch in the opening sequence of Spectre doesn’t mean it actually attempted a sustained undercurrent of humor. It wasn’t there — and it hasn’t been there since Vesper died. If EON dropped the name GOLDFINGER on you tomorrow for the first time, it would be tarred, feathered, roasted and thrown in the garbage heap of Internet memes by lunchtime. “Fans” don’t know what they want, but at least they’re predictable in that they’ll hate everything.
Regarding the suggestiveness of “Shatterhand,” I’m conflicted. In order to finally witness the Death Garden on screen, the filmmakers likely will continue threads initiated in Spectre. We risk Madeleine being an ersatz Tracy Bond and dying so that we might experience yet another bit of Craig-brand “revenge.” Craig would be best served by progressing in a fashion reminiscent of the old days. When something didn’t fly with fans, EON moved on without looking back — for better or worse. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service didn’t play well with 1969 audiences, so when EON followed that up with Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 it proceeded as if it never happened at all. Proceed as if Spectre didn’t happen. Liberate your creative forces to do what they do best. Create, without being tethered to the past. And call it “Shatterhand” — because WHY NOT? I’m looking forward to a bit of color back in my Bond.
Also, has there ever been a title song more perfect for Arctic Monkeys’ self-aware lounge swagger?