NO TIME TO DIE (United Artists Releasing/Universal, 2021)

Entry Source: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin


The twenty-fifth James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. US release date: April 2, 2021. Budget: $250+ million. Worldwide box office gross: N/A. Running time: 163 minutes.

The Setup

Six years have passed since the Spectre caper, but James Bond (Daniel Craig) and his main squeeze Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) haven’t managed to secure a happy ending. Bond is living in Jamaica, having retired from the British Secret Service. “On the surface, he’s pretty happy,” explained producer Barbara Broccoli. “He’s living in a great place. But [he’s] not entirely sure he’s as happy as he could be. Felix Leiter, his buddy from the CIA shows up and asks him to do a favour.”[1] That favor involves tracking down a missing scientist, Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik). Bond agrees and winds up confronting his old nemesis: SPECTRE. Also returning is Bond’s foster brother, imprisoned SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). The newcomers on the scene: CIA agent Paloma (Ana de Armas); mysterious genetic scientist Safin (Rami Malek), with whom Madeleine has a prior connection; and Nomi (Lashana Lynch), MI6’s replacement for Bond as the new 007.

Behind the Scenes

Needless to say, the twenty-fifth James Bond movie was a subject of intense speculation since moments after the release of the previous film, Spectre, in 2015. As fans gossiped and theorized—Daniel Craig was going to return for one more film, two more films, or none; he would be replaced by Tom Hiddleston (Thor) or Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), or by Idris Elba as the first black Bond—the filmmakers’ journey to craft the film that became No Time to Die was just as convoluted. While Daniel Craig returned once more to the part he was born to play, several crucial behind-the-scenes roles proved more difficult to fill. Initially, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson enlisted director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and his writer John Hodge (Trainspotting), but after months of writing, they left the project over creative differences. Fortunately, Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation) was suddenly available, and the young, up-and-coming director came aboard as Boyle’s replacement—becoming the first American to helm an Eon Productions 007 film.

On the writing front, Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had already delivered a draft of the screenplay, which was put on hold while Boyle and Hodge workshopped their own take on 007. Fukunaga would eventually return to the Purvis/Wade blueprint—with the inspired addition of ace British actor/writer/producer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, fresh off her acclaimed television series Killing Eve and Fleabag. The filmmakers also hired script doctor Scott Z. Burns to further hone the finished draft. For the film’s title, meanwhile, the producers borrowed “No Time to Die” from a 1958 World War II drama coproduced by Albert R. Broccoli. Retitled Tank Force for its US release, the original No Time to Die was stacked with future Bond contributors, including director Terence Young, writer Richard Maibaum, and actress Luciana Paluzzi.

Script problems pushed the production’s start date a number of times, but the film finally went before the cameras in Jamaica in April 2019. No Time to Die would also film on locations in England, Norway, and Italy. It was a challenging production; early on, Daniel Craig broke his ankle during a chase scene, causing further delays. And when the film was finally finished, it became one of the first victims of the devastating coronavirus pandemic. As movie theaters closed all over the world to prevent the spread of the infection, the producers and studio executives at Universal Pictures, United Artists Releasing, and Annapurna Pictures decided to push the release date from April to November 2020. It was the first in a long line of major studio releases that scrapped their long-in-the-works marketing and distribution plans for 2020.  They eventually had to push it into April, 2021.

The Cast
Role
Actor/Actress
James Bond Daniel Craig
Safin Rami Malek
Madeleine Swann Léa Seydoux
Paloma Ana de Armas
Nomi Lashana Lynch
M Ralph Fiennes
Q Ben Whishaw
Moneypenny Naomie Harris
Ernst Stavro Blofeld Christoph Waltz
Logan Ash Billy Magnussen
Felix Leiter Jeffrey Wright
Tanner Rory Kinnear
Valdo Obruchev David Dencik
The Crew
Role
Crew Member
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga
Screenplay by Neal Purvis
Robert Wade
Cary Joji Fukunaga
Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Producers Barbara Broccoli
Michael G. Wilson
Director of Photography Linus Sandgren
Music by Hans Zimmer
Title song performed by Billie Eilish
Production Designer Mark Tildesley
Art Directors Andrew Bennett
Neal Callow
Dean Clegg
Mark Harris
Sandra Phillips
Tamara Marini
Second Unit Director Alexander Witt
Stunt Coordinator Lee Morrison
Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould
Editors Tom Cross
Elliot Graham


[1] Shannon Connellan, “Everything We Know About ‘No Time to Die’ from Dropping by the Set,” Mashable, February 7, 2020, https://mashable.com/article/james-bond-no-time-to-die-set-visit/.