Bond, James Bond, is headed back to the big screen for 007’s 25th movie, due for a release sometime in early 2020. As is befitting a secret agent, there aren’t many details about the film that are public knowledge yet, but here’s what we do know. [Updated August 20]
For a long time, Bond 25 was known simply as Bond 25. Fans were hoping that the official title might be revealed on April 25, during a live-streamed presentation about the film broadcast from the Jamaican villa where Bond author Ian Fleming wrote all the original novels, but that was not the case. Instead, we all had to wait until late August before the official James Bond Twitter account announced that the new entry will be called No Time to Die.
Cary Fukunaga, known for True Detective Season 1, Beasts of No Nation, and Maniac, will direct No Time to Die. Fukunaga, who said that Daniel Craig is his favorite Bond, signed up to direct in September 2018, after original director Danny Boyle left the picture in August, citing “creative differences.” The switch in directors pushed back the film’s release date, as it was initially set to come out in November of this year.
“I want to make sure that this run of films, which has been fantastic, has a great next chapter and just keeps upping the ante,” Fukunaga said at the event.
In addition, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns, and Killing Eve’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge are writing the script.
It was touch-and-go there for a while, though: Craig told Time Out London back in 2015 that he’d rather “break this glass and slash my wrists” than play the suave spy one more time. But he’s back for his fifth outing, having first appeared as 007 in 2006’s acclaimed, gritty Bond origin story Casino Royale, and according to Variety, he will be paid $25 million for his efforts, with some reporting that he will also get a cut of the profits. Despite the earlier rumors that Craig was looking to exit the franchise, the 51-year-old appeared to be in good spirits at Thursday’s event.
“The movies have been an event. For myself, I remember going to see them as a kid, and they were a moment. A new Bond coming out was incredibly exciting.”
In addition to Craig, many of Bond’s familiar allies are returning as well. Ralph Fiennes will reprise his role as Bond’s boss, M, having taken the role at the end of Skyfall when Judi Dench’s version of the character died. Rory Kinnear will return as Bond’s ally Tanner, while Ben Whishaw will once again play MI6’s resident inventor, Q.
Léa Seydoux will reprise her role as Dr. Madeleine Swann from Spectre, while Jeffrey Wright will once again play Felix Leiter, the CIA agent who aided Bond in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Naomie Harris is back playing Moneypenny as well, but Harris wouldn’t say if the character would stick with her desk job or return to the field.
“I can’t say; that’s way too much information, unfortunately,” she said at the event. “You’ll have to wait and see.”
New cast members include Dali Benssalah, Captain Marvel’s Lashana Lynch, Blade Runner 2049’s Ana De Armas, and Swedish-Danish actor David Dencik, who is known for dark crime dramas like Top of the Lake. Billy Magnussen also co-stars in the new film, and it’s perhaps worth noting that he worked with director Fukunaga on the Netflix limited series Maniac. In addition, reports have circulated that Lynch’s character may be a female 007 who has taken on the iconic code number after Bond’s retirement, and that the film will see Bond come out of retirement to reclaim it, but those reports have not been confirmed as of yet. Beyond that, it is unclear who any of the other actors are playing in the upcoming film.
Rounding out the cast is Oscar-winner Rami Malek of Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody fame. Malek was unable to attend April’s event, but he sent in a video message that seemed to signal that he is going to be the villain in No Time to Die:
“I promise you all, I will be making sure Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in this, his 25th outing,” Malek said.
— James Bond (@007) April 25, 2019
Little is known about the plot at this time, though executive producer Barbara Broccoli did reveal where the film would start, at least.
“Bond is not on active service when we start the film, so he is actually enjoying himself,” she said. “We consider Jamaica Bond’s spiritual home, and he starts his journey here.”
Bond will come out of retirement when Felix Leiter comes calling, seeking Bond’s help in rescuing a kidnapped scientist which sets them on the trail of a villain with a deadly new technology. Though there was no footage, since primary shooting had yet to begin, the live stream ended with a shot of one of the sets, presumably Bond’s Jamaican villa. No Time to Die will also shoot in London, Norway (where filming has already been done), and Matera, an ancient, cliffside city in Southern Italy.
No Time to Die will be distributed in North America by MGM and overseas by MGM courtesy of Universal (note: Rotten Tomatoes is part of the Universal family). This marks a big change for the franchise — for a decade, Sony had distributed the Bond films, but its contract expired in 2015. (Note: The article originally said that MGM was distributing in the U.S. in association with Annapurna; it has since been corrected.)
After initially being scheduled for a November 8, 2019 release, and then a February 2020 premiere, No Time to Die will now debut on April 8, 2020.
Craig’s Bond films have followed a pattern on the Tomatometer: One critically lauded film in the 90s, followed by a barely Fresh film in the 60s. He kicked off with Casino Royale, his highest-rated film ever at 94%, and followed up with Quantum of Solace, which scored 65%; Skyfall was Certified Fresh at 92%, and then Spectre became Craig’s lowest-scoring Bond film at 63%. It’s worth noting, too, that all three of Cary Fukunaga’s films as director have been Certified Fresh.