Way back when this interminable nightmare began, No Time To Die was the film industry bellwether, being the first major movie to push back its release date due to coronavirus. Now, though Team Bond is sticking with their current release plan, dropping a final trailer ahead of the film’s slated release on September 30 (October 8 in the US and Canada, and November 11 in Australia, sorry Oz). For the last two years, this movie has looked cool, it still looks cool, looking cool is never the problem for Bond. The problem for Bond in what is very likely Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 are, in descending order:
- Will Bond fanboys (Bondboys?) accept Lashana Lynch as the “new 007”, because YOU KNOW how fanboys get when women step into roles typically occupied by men
- Rami Malek
Wait, why is Rami Malek on this list? Are you still mad about Bohemian Rhapsody? Yes, of course, I will die mad about it. But no, that’s not why Rami Malek is on the list. It’s because Bond lives and dies by two things: looking cool and the strength of his villain. Craig has the looking cool thing down pat, few contemporary actors exude such effortless, don’t-give-a-damn charisma. Bond is a character who rarely, if ever, loses his cool, both temperamentally and sartorially. He LOOKS cool, he IS cool, he’s a male wish fulfillment fantasy that has yet to let go of toxic masculine standards like repressing emotion. (This is why Tom Hiddleston would be a terrible Bond. He’s incapable of projecting that he doesn’t care. His characters always care deeply, even Loki, who cares intensely about everything even as he’s ranting about how he doesn’t care about anything. That made Hiddleston a great Jonathan Pine, a spy fueled by personal failure and feelings of self-blame and recrimination, but it’s the wrong energy for Bond.)
But when it comes to the villains, Craig’s tenure has been forgettable. The Craig-Bond villain stable is littered with top-flight actors—Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Almaric, Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz—but I can only recall one character name, Blofeld (Waltz), because he’s a famous Bond villain that exists in previous iterations of Bond. I had to google everyone else, including Bardem’s villain, Silva, who is the most memorable of the bunch. Also, I TOTALLY forgot that Dave Bautista played Hinx in Spectre, probably because I have forgotten most of Spectre. So, will Rami Malek and his creepy porcelain mask fare better than the previous, mostly forgettable villains before him? Hopefully! But my main takeaway from this final trailer is that his aesthetic is very much “Jared Leto in Blade Runner 2049”, so we’re not getting off on the right foot. Invoking Jared Leto is always a mistake.
I’m pretty sure we’ll find out for sure which side of the good/bad line No Time To Die falls on this fall. I don’t think MGM can afford to delay this film any longer. If we’re lucky, maybe the COVID situation will be on the downswing by the end of September and Craig’s final outing as Bond can get a decent showing. I like Daniel Craig a lot, I hope his Bond swan song is more Skyfall, less Spectre. And then he can move onto the Benoit Blanc Cinematic Universe, as nature always intended.