Chris Gelderd counts down to No Time To Die by revisiting the Daniel Craig Bond era…
A Royal Naval Reserve Commander, operating as an officer within the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6 as it’s commonly known. Named after an American ornithologist with an apparently “boring name” fit for a person who was created as a dull, blunt instrument. Fused with real life inspiration from serving World War 2 Naval Intelligence operatives and British Commando Units. Envisioned as a mix of handsome American singer and actor Hoagy Carmichael and English author Ian Fleming, with cold eyes and unwavering emotion.
On paper, this sounds a rather scrambled combination of ideas and notes. But Fleming took these ideas to his typewriter in a sun-baked Jamaican holiday home, Goldeneye, in 1952. The output was the thriller ‘Casino Royale’ featuring a secret agent called James Bond, British Intelligence agent 007. Eleven novels and two small-story collections later, 00-fever had spread globally.
But to cash in on a new era of espionage, producers Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman struck a deal with United Artists and Fleming to bring Bond to the big screen. Unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery was cast as 007 in 1962s Dr.No on a budget of $1 milllion.
The rest, as they say, is cinematic history.
James Bond returns for his 25th EON Production outing this April in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time To Die, and after surviving nearly 58 years on screen, he certainly HAS no time to die anytime soon. Hopefully.
In his fifth and sadly last appearance as 007, Daniel Craig will both continue and (potentially) conclude a story arc started in 2006’s Casino Royale. With each film, more and more developments and characters confirmed that Craig’s 007 universe was totally different to that outside of the 1962-2002 one. Serving as a soft-reboot after the widely panned Die Another Day, EON have bravely shaken, not stirred, the franchise. While his films retain fleeting nods to the past and his Bond embodies the Fleming creation faithfully, this is a whole new 007 in a new era with new faces, stories and dangers.
Strap in as we take an express ride through the Craig era to bring you right up to date ready for No Time To Die.
Casino Royale (2006)
Newly promoted 00 agent James Bond is assigned by his superior, M, to investigate the shady financier Le Chiffre, a criminal operative who orchestrates terrorist attacks after short-selling stock to companies which results in huge profits for him and the organisation he works for.
With the aid of tough MI6 Treasury agent Vesper Lynd and field contact René Mathis, Bond must use all his skill with the cards and cool head to survive the mission and bankrupt Le Chiffre so he has nowhere left to hide…
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Bond is out for vengeance after recent betrayals and revelations. Tracking down criminal operative Mr White who pulled Le Chiffre’s strings, 007 is caught up battling a much larger crime syndicate than he expected.
With the help of strong-minded Bolivian operative Camille Montes and allies Mathis and Felix Leiter, Bond delves into the Latin American underworld where he must stop businessman Dominic Greene the sinister organisation he works for; Quantum.
A top secret list of MI6 agents is leaked and agent James Bond is sent to retrieve it. But when 007 is accidentally injured in the line of duty by his field partner Eve Moneypenny, it’s up to M to cover up MI6’s fatal failure.
Whitehall staff Q and Intelligence Chairman Gareth Mallory keep the pressure up to get Bond back into service as M battles to keep MI6’s reputation. Bond is set against former MI6 agent Raoul Silva who is carrying out the attacks and must stop him as the danger – literally – gets too close to home.
Returning from Mexico City on assignment, James Bond is grounded by M for his continuous reckless actions at a time when MI5 and MI6 have merged into one intelligence group, with higher powers aiming to close down an outdated 00 section.
Whilst M battles to keep the 00-section active in London, Bond needs help from one man he once tried to kill; Mr White. For a price, White gives up to location of his daughter Madelaine Swann, as a way to keep up the fight against the criminal organisation he works for; SPECTRE. Bond and Swann must find and stop SPECTRE, led by the mysterious Franz Oberhauser who has links to Bond’s dark past…
And now five years on, we will hopefully get answers, revelations and explosive events that will help shape Craig’s 007 one final time. With returning faces Léa Seydoux (Madelaine Swann), Ralph Fiennes (M), Ben Whishaw (Q) and Christoph Waltz (Ernst Stavro Blofeld), this is more a continuation of Craig’s 007 story than ever. But with newcomers such as Rami Malek (Safin), Lashana Lynch (Nomi) and Ana de Armas (Paloma), we are going to be in for a heap of surprises, glamour and action!
Yet, one question looms like a spectre over the franchise.
Following hefty production challenges, having the second longest production break in the series (following 1989-1995’s legal issue) and no evident forward-planning, what does the future hold for 007 after Craig’s departure?
With the current 24 films fronted by six hugely talented leading men collectively grossing over $7bn at the box-office, the James Bond franchise doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Skyfall was the first ever Bond film to gross over the $1bn mark back in 2012, and if done right, No Time To Die could well be following that. And let’s not forget the potential excitement of casting a new James Bond which leads to new investment and discussion in the adventures and direction to come.
The love for this British (and now global) cinematic institution is there, and so is the want.
Let’s just hope James Bond WILL return once Craig hangs up the Walther PPK in a few months’ time.