Name’s Bond. James Bond!
James Bond is probably the most famous secret agent like… Ever? Forever? So, why does No time to die feels like the saddest goodbye? Was Daniel Craig the best Bond? Is this really the end of an era? What’s next? So many questions but… No time to die is a perfect moment to celebrate spy cinema.
The world’s moved on, Commander Bond.
After watching the 25th installment of this franchise, I am not so sure about that. For the first time ever, I feel like I will really, truly miss that one James Bond. Daniel Craig might’ve been a controversial choice for some, back then, 15 years ago. For many of us, it was the first Bond, that got a solid story, that was going on for 5 films. And it made full circle in No time to die.
Taking over after Pierce Brosnan must’ve been hard and challenging. A lot of people were like “um, seriously? You chose HIM?” But I think this happens after every re-casting, no? Don’t get me wrong – when it comes to portraying James Bond as a spy in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Connery had no competition.
But with Craig we actually got a story. Not just any story, no. And Marta was the one who actually made me realize that. His Bond had a story of love, betrayal and conspiracy going deeper than one would think. All his missions were circling around something… Something we’ve got to discover alongside our beloved spy. And for me? His objectifying attitude towards women became clearer after I read Casino Royale. The book. By Ian Fleming.
James Bond. License to kill. History of violence. I could be speaking to my own reflection. Only your skills die with your body. Mine will survive long after I’m gone.
But before that, let me tell you a little story of how I fell in love with Bond stories. It was a fantastic experience for me. I was a little girl, spending quality time with my dad. At first, I was trying with Star Wars, but you already know that. Then I took another chance with these “old spy movies”. My dad loved them all. He still does! And each time there is a Bond film on TV, he claims he’s never watched it in his life.
I think deep down, because of my dad’s line of work, I tried to spend as much time as possible with him – and that included watching blasts on the screen every five seconds. Oh, and of course Bond getting out of EVERY bloody sticky situation. Always getting the girl, always outsmarting the enemy.
When you talk about the books though, they are a little bit different. Both in terms of chronology and character portrayal. First of all, Casino Royale is the first book, published in 1953. Not all of you knew that, but this 2006 film was a second adaptation. The first one from 1967 didn’t have such great success, but still has a lot of fans. For me, this book was a real eye opener. Vesper could’ve been the one for James Bond. She could’ve… Save him from himself. James loved her, and she scared his heart for life. This is why in books that came after, Bond was a womanizer.
And that’s how I remembered him from the movies with Connery, Moore, Lazenby, Dalton and Brosnan. Sure, Craig also mainly slept with women, but there was one that shaped him this way. And the aftermath of this heartbreak left the world on the edge of destruction.
Harder to tell the good from bad, villains from heroes these days.
And for the first time ever, Bond became real. Real man who bleeds, gets beaten up, gets hurt and feels pain. He is not THAT invincible anymore. One of my favorite quotes from the Craig era is this one: “I have no armor left. You stripped it from me. Whatever is left of me… Whatever is left of me, whatever I am… I’m yours”. Perhaps this is precisely why Vesper’s betrayal was so tragic.
However, it made you feel, for Bond it felt 10 times worse. That also made him put stronger armor on. His drive for vendetta in Quantum of Solace, which takes place like… 15 minutes? After Casino Royale proves that his motives always were and always will be personal.
This is why it’s so easy to relate to Craig’s version of Bond. Who wouldn’t like to avenge the death of their loved one? Besides, it is also a journey to shocking discovery that in a twisted way, whatever happened wasn’t Vesper’s fault. For me, Quantum… wasn’t the best. Okay, it was actually the worst. I like to call it a “speed bump” on the road to Skyfall.
We all have our secrets. We just didn’t get to yours yet.
In 2012 the world heard Adele’s hit, Oscar-winning song “Skyfall” and nobody could figure out what the hell a SKYFALL is. Is it a person? A nickname? Maybe that’s what M called the new mission. And that was just another hint that proves the theory – the new era of Bond movies is deeply personal. This could’ve happened to all of us. Well, not the MI-6, being a spy part but… Losing people we love, one by one. Feeling alone in the world full of people.
Skyfall was a great movie on two levels – as a spy film and a Bond film. But I didn’t expect anything less from Sam Mendes (who as usual, partnered up with Thomas Newman for the soundtrack). Great villain (but that comes later) and unexpected plot twist. Spectre was a little bit disappointing, especially in terms of the bad guy. But I still liked it and oh boy, the song!!!
Seeing James Bond avoiding the vulnerability was both compelling and intriguing. Would he be able to trust a woman again? Could he risk it all? That again showed the human inside the invincible spy. A human, who loved old-fashioned methods, fast cars and dancing on the edge of the knife. Craig showed the audiences all around the world that being quintessential James Bond is not easy, but with the right approach and great story behind, all is possible.
We both eradicate people to make the world a better place. I just want it to be… tidier.
I feel like rewatching all the Bond movies now. But since today I am focusing on the Craig era, let’s talk about his enemies. The bad dudes who came from one organization… As it turns out, everything was connected and (probably) carefully planned. In the first film, he was up against Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) and I would say he was a pretty good villain. Little rough around the edges, but very text-book-like.
In Quantum… There was Mr. Greene who pissed the heck out of me. Not in a good way, like Cillian Murphy in The Dark Knight Trilogy, no. He was absolutely infuriating in the worst possible way. So, let’s skip this one, he gets a spot at the bottom of the list. Skyfall and Raoul Silva won the lottery. Javier Bardem delivered a phenomenal performance of repulsive, evil madman, seeking vengeance. What a brilliantly written character. He was my number one, until I watched No time to die.
But in the meantime, there was also Spectre with Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld (born Franz Oberhauser). In the beginning, the aura of mystery that indicated unlimited power was something I was very fond of. But watching it again on Friday night and after talking with Marta, we came to the conclusion that he was too… Goofy? Funny? For a villain, and because of that, he lost some “evil” points.
And finally, we have Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin. For me, the greatest and “best” adversary of James Bond. Absolutely intimidating, but that is all thanks to Malek’s method acting. His appearance added value, but the way he composed himself as the enemy… The way he spoke. Terrifying to the bone. That performance could score him some main-stage time during awards season.
The past isn’t dead.
Legacy will last forever. Saying goodbye to the Craig era was way too emotional – but all in good sense. I just did not expect so many strong emotions from myself. After leaving the theater I felt… Grief. An era came to an end, a beautiful, meaningful end. And even though the world was skeptical at first, we all grew to love Daniel Craing’s Bond. Cheeky, funny and sassy.
We grew to love his team – new M, excellent Quartermaster (that scene in the museum was literally a piece of art) and fierce Moneypenny. Oh, and Felix! Brother from another mother. Or agency if you will. It was great to see these characters progress and evolve, make mistakes and try to fix them.
But the most intriguing thing to witness was the chemistry each one of them had with Craig on screen. Sometimes it was simply hilarious, other times it was profoundly deep. Nevertheless – Bond… James Bond changed during those 15 years. And I am curious what the future holds. Perhaps a total change will come. Or… Maybe the timeline will be reshaped for a different set of stories? Well, it’s no time for speculation. Right now, the studio and creators want that moment to be about Daniel Craig.
History isn’t kind to men who play God.
And the songs? Oh, I didn’t like the Quantum… one – but that shouldn’t be a shocker. The only thing I liked about this film was how amazing Craig looked. So determined and all. Anyway, “Skyfall” was the top one for a long time. Three years actually, until “Writings on the wall” came. In my opinion, this is the most underrated yet the most wonderful Bond song. And it will have a whole new meaning after No time to die.
Mind that we are still talking about the Craig era, okay? Don’t yell at me for calling this one the best Bond song. I’m not saying like, ever. However, it would be a pretty strong contender. There is just something about it. Maybe it’s the lyrics, so deep and so meaningful. Especially in the context of the movie.
As for “No time to die” by Billie Eilish… First of all, I was never a big fan of hers. It’s not like I have something against her. I just hate “Bad guy”. But lately she grew on me (there was a day when I was listening to “NDA” for 8 hours straight). Still, her song for this movie felt… Meh to me. For some reason, Bond songs make more sense after you watch the film. And so was the case with “No time to die”, which I fell in love with after (and during) watching the movie.
Or maybe it’s all Hans Zimmer, I don’t know. Maybe it’s nostalgia mixed up with bitter-sweet melancholy? I’ll leave you with this decision. All I can say now about No time to die without depriving you of experiencing this by yourselves is this: phenomenal spy movie with action creeping on you in every corner; thrilling struggle at the top between flawed good and delusional evil; beautiful farewell to Daniel Craig’s James Bond. Do yourself a favor and watch it as quickly as possible. You will not regret it.
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”