In the last 15 years, Daniel Craig has anchored the role of Britain’s top secret agent, James Bond.
Of the 25 Bond movies based on the fictional character created by British novelist Ian Fleming, Craig has starred in five. Before him, seven brilliant actors have played James Bond, including Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby and Pierce Brosnan.
Even though No Time To Die was supposed to premier last year, a director quitting and the raging COVID-19 pandemic led to it being postponed. Filmmakers have finally scheduled its release for November 30 in Malaysia. (It is September 30 in places like India, Hong Kong and Thailand).
Like all other movies in the Bond franchise, the five James Bond films starring Daniel Craig are also loaded with adrenaline-pumping chases, jaw-dropping stunts, fast cars, beautiful Bond girls and exotic filming locations.
With No Time To Die being Daniel Craig’s last Bond outing, here’s a recap of what happened in the previous four movies.
Casino Royale (2006)
Based on Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel of the same name, which was also the first James Bond book, the spy movie was directed by Martin Campbell and casts Judi Dench as M, Eva Green as Vesper Lynd and Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre, among many others.
Having earned the license to kill, James Bond sets on his first mission, which involves beating Chiffre, who works as a banker to terrorists, in a high-stakes game of poker in Montenegro. But there is a bigger agenda involved. He must do so to stop Chiffre’s organisation from financing terrorists. The new secret agent is accompanied by Vesper — who doubles as his partner, CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and HM Treasury liaison Rene Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini) for the job.
At the box office, Casino Royale (2006) earned US$ 167.4 million as domestic revenue and US$ 594.4 million as global revenue (both amounts exclude ticket price inflation), according to a Forbes’ 2020 report.
The movie was well received by the audience, with a 94 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Daniel Craig was also hailed as a “superb Bond: leaner, more taciturn, less sex-obsessed, able to be hurt in body and soul, not giving a damn if his martini is shaken or stirred” by critic Roger Ebert.
No Bond movie is complete without an array of beautiful and swanky cars. Craig is seen driving an Aston Martin DBS V12 and the DB5 model. Other cars spotted in the film are a Ford Mondeo, Jaguar XJ8 and a Range Rover Sport, among others.
Quantum of Solace (2008)
The 22nd James Bond movie and the sequel to Casino Royale is directed by Marc Forster and written by Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. The Daniel Craig-starrer made a global revenue of US$ 591.7 million (excluding inflation).
Starting 10 minutes after the events of Casino Royale, this movie sees the secret agent looking for the reason behind Vesper’s betrayal. His search leads him to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), the Bond villain, who has been planning a coup to topple the Bolivian government.
Along with familiar faces from the previous Bond movie like Judi Dench (M), Giancarlo Giannini (Rene Mathis) and Jesper Christensen (Mr. White), the cast of Quantum of Solace also includes Olga Kurylenko (Camille) and Gemma Arterton (Strawberry Fields), among many others.
The Aston Martin DBS from Casino Royale (2006) is seen in this film in a dark grey version in the opening scene and Bond girl Camille is seen driving a gold Ford Ka. The famous car chase in the movie included seven Aston Martins and eight Alfa Romeos.
According to the same Forbes report cited earlier, Skyfall made US$ 1.1 billion as global revenue (before inflation). Directed by Sam Mendes, Craig’s third Bond film included many other prominent actors like Javier Bardem as Silva, Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, Naomie Harris as Eve, Ben Whishaw as Q and the late Helen McCrory (1968–2021) as Clair Dowar MP. For his role in this Bond film, Bardem has been compared to the likes of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The plot follows Craig as he is called back after a failed mission by spy-chief M, portrayed by Dench. Bond is assigned the task to trace Silva — the film’s antagonist and a former MI6 agent — who has stolen a drive, containing the whereabouts of undercover agents across the world. As the series of events jeopardises the safety of MI6, Silva looks to settle a score with M. Bond joins forces with Harris and sets on a trail that takes him to the Scottish mansion where the British spy was raised.
Skyfall has a rating of 92 percent Rotten Tomatoes, and Craig was critically acclaimed as one of the best Bonds ever. Ebert says that the film “triumphantly reinvents 007”, branding it as an “invigorating experience”.
The theme song of Skyfall was sung by acclaimed singer-songwriter Adele, who went on to win an Oscar and a Golden Globe in the Best Original Song category in 2013. With this, the film bagged its first Academy Award.
When it comes to cars in the Bond film, the classic Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger (1964) and the previous two movies starring Craig appear in the 23rd instalment as well. The car chase sequence included 12 Land Rover Defenders and 16 Audi A5s. Other impressive machines spotted in the film are Jaguar Land Rovers, the Jaguar XJ and Honda CRF250R motorcycle, among others.
Director Sam Mendes revives one of the most sinister villains in the James Bond series — Ernst Stavro Blofeld, portrayed by the talented Christoph Waltz. Blofeld last appeared in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and was the head of a criminal organisation named SPECTRE. In the 24th Bond film, Craig receives an ambiguous message, which sets him on a quest to find out about Blofeld and reveal the truth behind his organisation. Meanwhile, M strives to keep the MI6 afloat.
A major change, the idea which was introduced in the previous 007 movie, Ralph Fiennes replaces Dench as M. Others in the cast include Monica Bellucci as Lucia, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann.
The movie went on to make a global revenue of US$ 879.6 million.
This James Bond film, too, featured an impressive range of cars, including the Aston Martin DB10, which its maker labels as “our finest undercover car”, the Jaguar C-X75 driven by Blofeld, Range Rover Sport SVR and Land Rover Defender “Big Foot” by SVO.
What to expect in ‘No Time to Die’ (2021)
No Time to Die is Daniel Craig’s fifth and final film as James Bond. Essaying the role of the main antagonist, Rami Malek will be seen as Lyutsifer Safin — a former assassin of SPECTRE.
The cast includes many other familiar faces such as Ralph Fiennes as M — chief of the secret service agency MI6, Christoph Waltz is back as Blofeld, Ben Whishaw as Q, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter and Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the story shows Bond having quit the secret services and living a quiet life in Jamaica.
One day, his old colleague Felix pays him a visit and asks for his help to rescue a kidnapped scientist. What seemed to be a simple task for the retired undercover agent turned out to be more perilous when he realised that the villainous Safin was armed with a new technology which can be dangerous.
American singer and songwriter Billie Eilish has lent her voice for the theme song “No Time to Die”. She wrote it along with her brother Finneas O’Connell. Eilish is the youngest artist to have written and recorded a theme song for a Bond movie. She won a Grammy award in the Best Song Written for Visual Media category in 2021 for this song.
Following the trend of powerful and speedy machines, Aston Martin DB5 makes yet another appearance as James Bond’s car. Other Aston Martins to be seen are V8 Saloon, DBS Superleggera and the new Valhalla. Land Rover Series III, Land Rover New Defender and Toyota Land Cruiser LC90 are expected to grace the screen as well.
Listen to “No Time to Die” on Spotify.
(Main and featured images: Tiziana Fabi, Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)