59 years ago this week, Sean Connery walked across the silver screen wearing a suit and carrying a Walther PP and introduced the world to James Bond, a spy with a license to kill and known as double-O seven or 007. This British agent who enjoyed the company of women and a dry martini, shaken not stirred, saved the world from a villain by the name of Dr. No. Between 1962 and 2015, six different actors played James Bond in 24 films. Now Daniel Craig finishes his term as 007 in the eagerly anticipated 25th film of the franchise, No Time to Die.
What Is No Time to Die?
In No Time To Die, Bond has retired from active service and is now enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. However, his peace is short-lived when his old CIA friend Felix Leiter shows up asking for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist is more dangerous than expected and puts Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
No Time To Die is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga with the screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridgeand. Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli are the producers. The cast includes Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, and Ralph Fiennes. No Time To Die releases in US theatres on Friday, October 8th.
Interview With Charlie Noble
I had the opportunity to interview Charlie Noble, the visual effects supervisor for the film. Charlie has worked in visual effects for over 30 years on many movies including Wonder Woman 1984, The Bourne Ultimatum, Captain Phillips, Bridge of Spies, Captain America: The First Avenger, and another James Bond title, Golden Eye. He explained that the job of a visual effects supervisor is to help get the director’s vision onto the film. They do this by picking up where things are not possible to do in camera due to the budget, availability, or jeopardy and get it onto the screen. Charlie told me that he was involved in all of around 1,500 visual effects shots in the movie. According to Charlie, everyday presents a different challenge while he is working on a film and he really enjoys the problem solving aspect of his job. He finds it very rewarding to solve these problems and then see the results of his labors on the screen.
Charlie came onto the film during pre-production and he continued on the set with the main unit for the shoot. He was then involved in post production, which in itself took about 16 weeks and was handled by different crews all over the world. In one of the scenes, Daniel Craig and Léa Seydoux are driving in the silver Aston Martin DB5 in Italy when they get blocked in a courtyard by gunmen. As the car spins around doing doughnuts, a smoke screen is released. Charlie explained that a many of the scenes use large sets with real physical effects. However, for this scene, the smoke was not quite as thick as the direction envisioned. Therefore, during post production, Charlie said they used visual effects to augment the smoke to appear thicker and more opaque. His team also had to ensure the scene was cleaned up between takes. For example, since the car left a lot of rubber on the ground, they had to remove it before the next take.
Charlie told me that while he is on the set, he ensures that the filmed scenes are good enough that he can touch them up with in post production. Since there are some things he can’t fix, he may have a scene reshot so it will look perfect in the end. Charlie shared with me that the scenes of Daniel and Lea driving through Italian streets in an iconic car chase were actually filmed with the two actors in the car. While the camera was filming them acting, a stunt driver was actually in a pod on the roof of the car doing all the driving. These shots were not filmed on a soundstage with the actors in front of a green screen, but actually riding in the car. The same system is used during another chase scene as Bond is racing across the Norwegian tundra. When I asked him if he was particularly proud of any part of the movie, Charlie responded he was proud of all of it and that it was a testament to the talent of the amazing artists who worked on the show. He stated that Bond films tend to attract the best crews who all are keen to work on one of these films. One of the comments Charlie made that impressed me was that his work is invisible and he finds satisfaction when people don’t realize what he has done. In fact, he has done his job if you can’t tell what he has done.
Why Should You See No Time to Die?
The James Bond franchise did a reboot in 2006 when Daniel Craig assumed the mantle of 007 in Casino Royale. Unlike previous films, the five films featuring Craig form a story arc which continues in Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, and then concludes with No Time to Die. In fact, I suggest reviewing these earlier films, especially Spectre since No Time to Die picks up where it leaves off. While Craig portrays Bond as a ruthless assassin, he also shows the humanity within the character. This is most apparent in this latest film. In fact, this was the part of the film which impressed me most. I did not walk into the theater expecting to experience an emotional reaction to the film. Yet I did and in the end I felt closer to the story. Having watched all of the Bond films several times each over the last few decades, and viewing them all again during the pandemic, I have come to appreciate different things about them. One of my favorite titles in the franchise, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, is the only film with George Lazenby as Bond. Yet he played a Bond who fell in love and even got married. I appreciated the compassionate side of Bond in this film. However, Craig in No Time to Die does an even better job.
Now let’s get to what viewers expect in a Bond film. As usual, Bond gets called in to save the world from a villain. Rami Malek does a great job of playing Safin, a psychotic and vengeful villain who has created a technological weapon designed to kill specific targets anywhere. Christoph Waltz also returns as Ernst Stavro Blofeld giving us a second villain who wants Bond dead and continues to run his terrorist criminal organization SPECTRE from his prison cell. Léa Seydoux also returns from Spectre to continue her role as Dr. Madeleine Swann, Bond’s love interest from the previous film. Of course, the locations span the globe from Jamaica, to Italy, to London, to Havana, to Norway, and then to the secret island base in the northwestern Pacific from which Safin prepares his diabolical plans.
In order to defeat these super villains, Q-Branch comes to Bond’s aid with impressive gadgets and of course modified cars. My all time favorite Bond car, the silver Aston Martin DB5 which first appeared in Goldfinger returns complete with machineguns that pop out from the headlights, a smoke screen, and other impressive features including an ejection seat. There is even a glider-plane that converts into a submarine. Q has thought of everything. Bond also does not have to go it alone. Lashana Lynch plays Nomi, a new double-O agent who helps Bond take on the bad guys. Two villains definitely calls for two double-O’s.
No Time to Die was delayed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The studio decided to hold on to it until it could be released in theaters rather than going straight to streaming. I applaud them for their decision and it was definitely worth the wait to see it on the big screen. I absolutely loved this film. The car chases are exciting and have the audiences hearts pounding. The gunfights are well-choreographed and keep you on the edge of your seats. The cinematography and visual effects are incredible. Though the movie runs 2 hours and 43 minutes, the movie kept my attention the entire time and I did not realize how much time had passed until I looked at the time during the credits at the end. As I mentioned before, while No Time to Die has everything a Bond film needs, and does them all well, my favorite part was Daniel Craig’s ability to portray the dichotomy of a ruthless assassin who kills for Queen and Country who also exhibits humanity and is willing to sacrifice for those whom he loves. By the end of the movie, my eyes were no longer dry. I highly recommend this film for Bond fans as well as for those who are new to the franchise. No Time to Die is definitely one of my favorite James Bond films and I can’t wait to see it again when it releases on Friday, October 8th at theaters throughout the US.