‘Come on Bond, where the hell are you?’
By Ricky Browne
As the pandemic continues its stranglehold, it may be no time to die, but unfortunately for the James Bond franchise and film theatres globally, it is no time to go to the movies either.
To take a line from the trailer “Come on Bond, where the hell are you?”
For what now seems like a quantum of years at least, James Bond fans have been eagerly awaiting No Time to Die, the latest James Bond movie, this one tracing its roots back to its Jamaican origins, opening with the British spy trying to live a tranquil retirement in the tropical island.
The movie was filmed in Jamaica in 2019, with its arrival hotly debated and awaited.
The first James Bond books were written by British novelist Ian Fleming at his home Golden Eye overlooking the Caribbean Sea in Oracabessa, Jamaica.
And the first film, Dr No in 1962 staring Sir Sean Connery, was filmed largely in Jamaica. That film kicked off the series of movies as bringing not just thrills, spills and kills with beautiful male and female stars, but as one where the exotic locations would be almost as vital to the experience.
Originally, No Time to Die, was to be premiered in April earlier this year, but COVID-19 — a terrible sounding sequel if ever there was one — put paid to that, as a global lockdown prevented people from even entertaining the idea of going to a movie theatre.
The new date was put to November, and James Bond fans set into to waiting just that bit longer to see Daniel Craig act for perhaps the last time as 007.
But now October is here, and once more No Time to Die has had to be postponed, as have many other movie releases.
It turns out that while some people don’t mind going out for a drink or a meal to socialize with friends, virtually no one wants to sit in a closed auditorium, surrounded by hundreds of other possibly infected people, whether or not they are wearing masks.
This is bad news, not just for James Bond, but also for cinemas, which now lack releases and audiences. Its a bit of a chicken and egg situation, the difference being that neither the chicken nor the egg is showing any sign of coming soon.
Some cinemas can no longer take the suspense and the lack of an audience, and have started to shut down. Prime among them is Cineworld, which temporarily closed 127 sites across the UK today. No date has been given for their reopening. Meanwhile Odean cinemas are also going into shut down mode, though their screens will be open on weekends, at least for now.
Daniel Craig, who has previously said he didn’t want to play the role any longer, has acted in a total of five 007 films. The first was Casino Royal in 2006, followed by Quantum of Solace in 2008. Next was Skyfall in 2012 and Spectre in 2015.
No Time to Die, presumed to be Craig’s last, may now have to wait until 2021 before its release. If that’s the case it will be the longest period without a James Bond movie since the gap of six years and five months between Licence to Kill in 1989 and GoldenEye in 1995.
Speaking recently on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon about the pandemic, Craig said: “This thing is just bigger than all of us.
“We just want people to go and see this movie in the right way, in a safe way.
“Cinemas all around the world are closed at the moment. We want to release the movie at the same time all around the world, and this isn’t the right time.”
“Fingers crossed, April second is going to be the date” he said.
The reluctant Bond is now the actor to have played James Bond for the longest period. Craig will been in the role for some 15 years if the film is eventually released in 2021.
That beats Roger Moore, who was in the role for 12 years, and made seven films, although he looked a bit long in tooth by his final film A View to a Kill at the age of 57 .
In contrast, Craig has only made five films during the period, thanks to a long gap between Spectre and this one, but at 52 years he still looks like he is up for the role.
In all likelihood, he won’t act in the role again, however, and the intrigue over who will be next continues, even as fans await the release of No Time to Die.
The odds are on Tom Hardy t o take the role. The 43-year-old English actor is best known for his previous roles in Mad Max and the Dark Knight and in the more recent Venom.
Hardy is well known for his beard, but up to this point James Bond has always been clean shaven, so he may need to buy a razor soon.
If he does get the 007 role, it won’t be Hardy’s first time playing a spy, as he also acted in John le Carre’s cold war spy thriller ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy back in 2011.