Tom Jolliffe on the perpetual delays of No Time to Die…
Daniel Craig’s final outing as Bond has taken its sweet time. Prior to the pandemic playing havoc across cinema release schedules, it had already had problems. Danny Boyle was given the sack and replaced with Cary Joji Fukunaga, which pushed Bond out of its previous window into the April just gone. The Rona then perpetuated a move from April to November, but then it was deemed too soon still. April 2021 currently houses a spot for No Time to Die, but now there seems a distinct possibility that Bond might be pushed again.
Here’s the problem. Have you ever seen those cat videos on YouTube where puss is trying to shift its jumping stance into that perfect position to leap from table to fridge top (or whatever)? He keeps bobbing around, unsure of his footing. Finally he goes to jump but he just ends up slipping off the table onto the floor. Cats land on their feet though. Movies, not so much. There’s no comfort spot on the horizon. There’s no good jumping point, and I get the feeling that this isn’t increasing expectation and anticipation, but slowly chipping away at an audiences interest. Increasingly, it feels like Bond under Craig has already topped out. The success of Skyfall was enormous, so large in international appeal, that Spectre’s returns seemed altogether disappointing (albeit, it still made huge bank). There still seems a growing antipathy to Craig’s tenure though. Cinemagoers are always eying the next thing. Much like Roger Moore’s last few, or Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, there’s a continued feeling that Bond fans are already yawning and shouting ‘NEXT!’ Additionally, Craig’s not hidden the fact he’s not always felt wholly engaged with the character (though assures that he was well up for this recent one).
One of two things need to happen now. Bond needs to move on and reboot, or he needs to step back, breath a little and step back in 4-5 years down the line when the demand is up again and they can safely figure how to do Bond in a way that balances the desires of the woke audience, the millennials and the older traditionalist fans (yeah, good luck finding that middle ground). There’s a possessiveness about a franchise entity this big, and long standing. The disparity between generational expectations is huge. The longer this film lingers on, the more it eats away into moving on. We’re soon coming up to one of the longest film to film gaps there’s been. Timothy Dalton to Pierce Brosnan felt like forever. It was six years. Okay, circumstances haven’t been kind, but Spectre was 2015. It feels like forever ago, and at this rate, No Time to Die could hit late 2021. One thing that has continually hampered Craig’s era, has been an inability to put Casino Royale behind it.
Casino is superb, one of the best action films of the 21st century. Craig as Bond was a bolt from the blue needed to bring back to life a franchise that felt markedly behind other blockbusters (and desperate to keep in time). Die Another Day for example felt like your dad turning up dressed in the latest trends, but having been swindled at the market into buying crappy knockoffs. It’s embarrassing in the same way James Bond windsurfing in front of a giant (and abysmally rendered) CGI arctic wave is embarrassing. However, that continued need to call back really affected Quantum of Solace and Spectre in particular. The latter was a structural mess and an excessive gumbo of ideas, not all of which worked. It didn’t quite jump the shark (or windsurf the wave) but it wasn’t far off. It felt like a film that needed to close the book on a chapter. It needed to call time on Craig’s tenure. They’d covered every point of interest possible. We already know Bond is out of commission and gets called back in the new film. His age and abilities will once again get called into question. He’ll be pre-occupied with a woman from his past…yeah…I know, covered.
Continual delays will be counterproductive I feel, and the sooner we can blow the final whistle on this incarnation, the better. The excitement has long since peaked and now audiences are inclined to just say ‘get the hell on with it!’ It’s living together for years after finalising a divorce. It’s not bitter (yet) but it’s not good. I appreciate the studio can’t take the same hit as say Disney can by releasing Mulan to streaming early (and indeed Disney has its own outlet too which helps). Perhaps the Wonder Woman 1984 approach of simultaneous theatrical and home release might be the best compromise. Every big film must contend with the fact the next billion dollar grosser could be a few years away. Much like kitty softpaws, sometimes you just have to jump and hope for the best, or hope the landing isn’t too painful. Then as said, either they push on quickly with the next incumbent or allow enough breathing space to get some anticipation back to the franchise (which much like Star Wars movies, has a growing apathy). Regardless of time, the impact on the cinema going experience is likely to be permanent. No more delays, just get it out.
SEE ALSO: Is it time to retire James Bond?
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 out in 2021, including, Renegades (Lee Majors, Danny Trejo, Michael Pare, Tiny Lister, Ian Ogilvy and Billy Murray), Crackdown, When Darkness Falls and War of The Worlds: The Attack (Vincent Regan). Find more info at the best personal site you’ll ever see here.