No Time To Die is the 25th movie in the James Bond series, and the last to star Daniel Craig as 007. Having first made the role his own in 2006's Casino Royale, Craig is now set to bow out in style, as he faces Rami Malek's evil Safin.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and co-written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, No Time To Die is poised to be one of the winter's biggest releases. Having been delayed from April to November 2020, there's now a huge appetite for a roaring new Bond adventure – here are the highlights we uncovered from the trailer.
1. The bridge sequence is clearly significant
Like the preceding trailer, the new teaser for No Time To Die places great emphasis on the scene in Italy. The sequence was shot in Matera, in the south of the country, and accompanies Bond's betrayal by current love interest Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux, who returns from previous movie Spectre).
That Bond's romantic partner has skeletons in the closet, and deadly ones at that, may well be a sign of how the new movie is calibrated equally towards its female characters. Traditionally, this is something that prior Bond movies have struggled with – perhaps this is a sign of Waller-Bridge's influence? Of course, 2012's Skyfall explored M's (Judi Dench) guilty past, and that brought a great deal of emotional ballast to the story. We may well hope for the same substance again.
The chronology of the story is something we're still trying to piece together. The official synopsis states that the film begins with Bond having retired from active service – it's unclear whether this relates to his retirement in Italy with Madeleine, or in Jamaica, the spiritual home of original Bond author Ian Fleming. Madeleine appears to be largely absent in the second half of the trailer, so are we to assume that tragedy strikes in Italy (possibly relayed via flashback), Bond retires to the Caribbean and is then lured back into active service?
Of course, Madeleine appears during the MI6 sequences, so perhaps the sense of betrayal initiates a separation between the two of them, before they're thrown back together in London. (The look of shock on Bond's face in the previous trailer would indicate this is so.) The most context we get is a shot of Bond burning a note saying 'forgive me', which presumably alludes to her connection to Safin. What that is, we don't know yet.
Plot dynamics aside, who can resist a death-defying leap from an impossibly tall bridge, or the return of Goldfinger's iconic Aston Martin DB5? Fukunaga is clearly walking the divide between tradition and change, throwing in classic Bond tropes while anticipating, in the words of the trailer, 'the mission that changes everything'. Are we looking ahead to the death of 007 for the first time in the series? That would be another seismic moment in 2020, and we've not been short of those.
2. Madeleine may meet a tragic end
Bearing in mind what we've just said, there's a fleeting shot in the trailer that's significant. Behind the masked, menacing visage of Malek's ruthless Safin (described by producer Barbara Broccoli as "a nasty piece of work"), a woman lies prone. Is this Madeleine? If it is, perhaps the movie is mirroring the structure of 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in which Bond's (George Lazenby) marriage to Tracy (Diana Rigg) met with tragedy. For that reason, Majesty's is regarded as one of the most emotionally convincing films in the series, deepening and humanising Bond's character.
Of course, Craig's debut in Casino Royale also touched on these areas, as he lost his great love Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). Can his 007 possibly go through two rounds of the same trauma? It would certainly send Craig's portrayal out on an emotionally anguished note, and make his conflict with the main baddie even more personal.
3. Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas are here to set things straight
The Bond movies, particularly the pre-Craig ones, are infamous for their, let's say, sexist double standards. One might assume that Fleabag creator Waller-Bridge was brought in to right these wrongs and level out the playing field.
She herself has told The Independent: "[I was asked to do] dialogue polishes and to offer things really. It’s about just offering different alternatives... They did give me some scenes and then be like, can you write some alternatives for this or have another idea about where it could go in the middle or how it would end. And then I would just give them options and various scenes and then they would take what they want. But there was a lot people writing — the director [Cary Fukunaga] was a writer on it as well. And there’d been a few writers before.”
Regardless, No Time To Die is significant for its inclusion of two female characters who appear to challenge 007's supremacy. One of them is Nomi (Captain Marvel's Lashana Lynch), who has stepped into the '00' breach in Bond's absence. The other is MI6 operative Paloma, played by Knives Out scene-stealer Ana de Armas.
The latter comes across as a classic Bond character in the making: stylish, handy with a gun and more than ready to trade quips with 007. Meanwhile, the former shares a humorous dynamic with Naomie Harris' Moneypenny, now located in an MI6 desk job, as to why she shot Bond (accidentally) in Skyfall. Perhaps we're about to see a passing of the torch to one or both of these characters as Craig's Bond dies?
Debates will rage as to whether James Bond is forever destined to be played by a man, so perhaps the filmmakers will skip around this controversy and instead set up a completely new series fronted by either Nomi or Paloma? In order for it to be truly progressive, they ought to be defined on their own terms in their own movies, and not by the 007 legacy that has come before.
4. The villain is a shadowy reflection of 007
Here's a classic Bond conceit, one that has stretched back to the days of the now-90-year-old Sean Connery. Bond has always sought to put distance between himself and those that he kills, but it's often more complicated than that. In 1974's The Man With The Golden Gun, assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) observes that they essentially share the same profession; it's just the motivation (money vs Queen and country) that's different.
In 1963's From Russia With Love, the deadly Red Grant (Robert Shaw) is a physical and intellectual match for Connery's Bond. In fact, he's one of the few to have 007 at the end of his rope, holding Bond at gunpoint and relaying how he has outsmarted him all the way through the film. And bringing it forward to 1995's Goldeneye: the scarred Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) was formerly 006, and therefore well poised to anticipate Bond's (Pierce Brosnan) every move. This trope was repeated in Skyfall with Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 agent whose betrayal saw him wage a terrorist campaign against Judi Dench's M, and therefore making it very personal for Bond.
The same comparison extends to No Time To Die, in which Safin hisses: "We both eradicate people to make the world a better place. I just want to be a little... tidier." The euphemistic implications of that word appear to lean towards missiles and the standard global threat, but we can't wait to see the Oscar-winning Malek lock horns with Craig, not least because producer Broccoli has already talked up the character.
5. Heroes and villains are all alike
This is an extension of the previous point, made by Jeffrey Wright's Felix Leiter who observes: "It's hard to tell the heroes from the villains these days." This is Wright's first appearance since 2008's Quantum of Solace, and Leiter plays a significant role in drawing Bond into the story.
Of course, deep down we know that he's an ally (unless the film pulls the rug out), and there are others too. Among the other familiar faces we haven't mentioned are Ralph Fiennes M, who does a classic M thing of glowering and whispering, "Come on Bond, where the hell are you?" Ben Whishaw's Q, meanwhile, accompanies Bond and Nomi on an aerial mission involving some kind of high-tech glider that can also disappear underwater. (Kind of an update of the Lotus Esprit from 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me.)
Chalk up the set-pieces: bombs being thrown down shafts, vehicular chases through forests and much more besides. James Bond is indeed set to return – for now. But what of the future?