Tom Jolliffe looks at the positives with the delay of No Time To Die…
It seems like Daniel Craig’s final Bond film has been somewhat tarnished over the years. It’s not been the luckiest production that’s for sure. A lot of money has already been wasted on getting underway as a Danny Boyle film, only for him to be given the heave ho shortly before it was due to start. Boyle was then replaced by Cary Joji Fukunaga.
That brought about the first release delay as the script needed overhauling. Then rumours were rife of set issues and the whole thing being a bit of a cluster of a four letter F word. Phoebe Waller-Bridge who is about as shit hot as shit hot gets in the entertainment biz was also then drafted in to polish up the script here and there. Along the way the anti-woke brigade has fired off accusations of Bond being castrated by woke agendas and feminism (because you know, a black actress hired to portray a fellow OO agent was rumoured by conspiracy theorists as being a potential replacement for Craig in the long term). Ludicrous of course, as if apart from anything else, it should even matter that much to people.
However, finally, it seemed there was some semblance of finality about No Time To Die. A trailer was released. It looked…well…okay…not particularly magnificent, but then, I suppose as exciting as you could expect a fifth Daniel Craig Bond film (where he’s covered just about every possible Bondism and character arc his iteration could have) might be. Plenty of action, plenty of gadgets, Bond stunts, enigmatic villain teases and of course Bond girls as you’d expect a JB trailer to deliver. Now, it may seem a long time in waiting, and it may seem as if this Bond film is just running very late, but something, for me, feels a little bit wrong about Bond being a Spring release.
Here’s the thing. Going back, year upon year, Bond is that early winter film that kicks off that whole season running to Christmas. Bond for me, represents that opening pitch for a time of year that sees you through horror films and festive films, where after the summer theatrics have died down, audiences are ready to get out to the cinemas again. In a typically dead time of year, Bond is the one that historically seems to kick-start the spluttering engine to come back into gear. Craig himself has been something of a divisive Bond. His films have batted alternately between great and mediocre. He’s due a good one again after the pretty mediocre Spectre.
In all that Bond panic, for a film that was beginning to get tiresome before it even started shooting, with a Bond star who has probably all too often played a little put upon about playing the role, there’s a danger they’ve rushed this one. As silly as it sounds given the time taken, but we’re accounting for the fact so much development time with Boyle ended all for nought. No, last November was too soon, but perhaps even still, April might have been pushing it. Or course films regularly push their luck with time scales, but the delay shouldn’t merely be a cause to vault this film and sit twiddling their thumbs. It’s a chance for the overseers to road test it behind closed doors a few more times. To think carefully about how it plays.
There had been rumours this was going to clock in at three hours. It hasn’t quite been that much, but it will still mark the longest Bond film at 2 and ¾ hours. That’s pretty mammoth for an action film, and whilst two Avengers films may have came in beyond that, that’s not necessarily a good thing (Endgame particularly would have benefited from a wield of the editors axe). Is it going to be paced well? If it’s loaded with a lot of action is it going to be too frenetic? Is it going to be a complete fucking mess like Spectre was (which clocked in a few minutes shy of the latest films run-time)?. It gets to a point that Bond can disappear into too many caveats. He can slide off into too many strands that connect him to previous films. We’ve seen that throughout Craig’s run with a lot of his films diving back to things which happened in Casino Royale. Frankly, when I’m watching Spectre, which bored the back end out of me, I don’t want to be reminded how brilliant Casino Royale was. I think with so many Blockbusters now, there’s a growing tendency to put too much into a film, without necessarily warranting it. For me, any film pushing 3 hours has to be pretty damn special. It needs depth, and to be impeccably crafted and well structured (Spectre was pretty poorly structured). Likewise, as exceptional a villain as Rami Malek has the potential to be, if he’s not quite on the money (as the sadly misfiring Waltz wasn’t in Spectre) then that’s another aspect that could suddenly make the run-time become brutally apparent. To pull off that run time, everything has to work, and work exceptionally well.
Still, there’s time to make triply sure, that if this is indeed Daniel Craig’s Bond finale, that he leaves on a high night. If there’s fat to trim, trim it. If there’s CGI that isn’t quite up to the muster because the original deadline was tight, go back and polish it up. The financial doom merchants have also claimed the move could hit the film for $50 million. Here’s the thing though, if audiences aren’t going to flock out under current circumstances, in a season where JB feels misplaced anyway, the overall gross will suffered. Perhaps by November, when (touch wood, kiss your rabbit foot etc.) the coronavirus situation may be better, and the home-stayers are champing at the bit to get out to the cinema again, and the added anticipation, there might be a significant boost to more than offset that. Above all though, Bond is now (unless they about turn on the delay) where he should be, releasing early winter. Tis the season of 007.
Tom Jolliffe is an award winning screenwriter and passionate cinephile. He has a number of films out on DVD/VOD around the world and several releases due in 2020, including The Witches Of Amityville Academy (starring Emmy winner, Kira Reed Lorsch) and Tooth Fairy: The Root of Evil. Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see…https://www.instagram.com/jolliffeproductions/