‘No Time To Die’: Why the Bond franchise is on life support
If 2019 has taught us anything, it’s that putting a fresh coat of paint on a rotting building isn’t going to get people to come out. Charlie’s Angels, Hellboy, Terminator: Dark Fate, and Men in Black: International learned this the hard way. Based on the trailer for the latest James Bond flick No Time to Die, MGM is going to learn this lesson as well in 2020.
While the James Bond films have still been financially successful since the release of Skyfall back in 2012, critically Bond films are still lacking. In the Daniel Craig era of Bond, Quantum of Solace is still the worst critically received. None of the Craig era have truly met the same success as Casino Royale, Craig’s first shot at the role.
The reality is the spy genre has been revived and giving us more unique projects than just 007 drinking martinis and screwing some girl with no character development. In 2015, the year Spectre was released, four other blockbuster spy movies came out. One of them (Kingsman: The Secret Service) was literally a parody of the James Bond formula.
Gentlemen spies are no longer relevant
When Ian Fleming’s classic novels got their first film adaptation back in the 60’s, the gentleman spy was all around you. Whether you were watching The Man from U.N.C.L.E. or Get Smart on your TV, or Harry Palmer and Matt Helm films in theaters, it was hard to escape the genre.
Now, the spies we see aren’t guys in suits with shoe phones. We see Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible), Jack Ryan (Jack Ryan), Sterling Archer (Archer), and Lorraine Broughton (Atomic Blonde). These are all people who are spies in their respective movie/TV show, but definitely don’t fit the James Bond picture.
Heck, there’s so many versions even meant for kids, between Kim Possible, Spy Kids, Spies in Disguise, and Totally Spies. The definition of a spy has become so diverse that things that wouldn’t even be considered spy movies could be called spy movies. No one would think to call Captain America: The Winter Soldier a spy movie, but, by the new definition of spies, it is one.
MGM hasn’t gotten with the times
While Casino Royale was a great introduction to this new Bond timeline, MGM hasn’t moved past the version of Bond they created in that film. Bond still checks off every box, by constantly being overdressed, being an alcoholic, sleeping with random women because he can, and beating a bad guy with some personal tie to him. No wonder each film continues to be less critically successful.
While nothing official has come from MGM, No Time to Die is most likely Craig’s last film as Bond. Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) takes on the 007 mantle in No Time to Die. Getting some female blood in the film will definitely help, but that’s what we mean when we’re talking a fresh coat of paint.
A new Bond can’t fix every cliche
If the rumors are true and Lynch is taking over as Bond from here on out, then this is a positive. A new face as Bond can help freshen up the fights and conversations. A new Bond, however, isn’t going to fix the fact that MGM follows a very specific formula for these movies.
James Bond is the defining spy film, so its various writers continue to write the movie like previous James Bond films. Mission Impossible also was a defining TV show in the 60’s, but the film franchise breathed new air into it while staying true to the key aspects. Bond could learn a thing or two from Tom Cruise.
The new Bond can still enjoy a shaken martini and have random hookups, but the action needs to change. Bring Q out into the field, make him more of an agent, like they tried to do in Spectre. Stop with the dark and gritty Bond, bring some humor back into the franchise. Do something unique within the spy genre, like a heist, or turn it into a disaster movie.
You can make it James Bond without making it boring. No Time to Die looks like it may be a step in the right direction, but it takes more than a step to win the race.
No Time to Die comes to theaters April 8, 2020.