British actor Daniel Craig walked the red carpet for the last time as James Bond in a rainy London, at the star-studded but much-delayed world premiere of No Time To Die, the 25th film in a series that has lasted since over 50 years.
Craig’s fifth and final outing is finally hitting movie screens after its release was repeatedly postponed as the coronavirus pandemic swept the world.
The release will be in theaters only, with the struggling industry hoping the film will draw crowds.
“I’m very relieved we’re making Bond films for the cinema,” Craig, wearing a pink velvet tuxedo jacket, told Sky News on the red carpet on Tuesday.
Reflecting on 15 years of playing the spy known as 007, Craig said, “I really don’t have bad memories, but I think it’s going to take another 15 years to sort this out.”
Vue Entertainment, the UK arm of cinema operator Vue International, hailed the film’s release as “the film event of the year.”
The film hits theaters in Britain on Thursday and in the US on October 8, a year and a half behind schedule.
Craig bows out
In the film, which is said to have cost $ 250 million, Bond returns to active service after his retirement, swearing, “I have to finish this.”
He deploys his high-tech gadgets in spectacular landscapes in Italy and Norway while battling villainous Safin, played by Oscar winner Rami Malek.
“I get shot and then I blow myself up. It sounds like James Bond to me, ”Craig said in an official podcast.
With Craig bowing out, calling the role a “massive part” of his life, speculation has grown over who will inherit his legendary license to kill.
British bookmakers are betting on Tom Hardy, who was in the films The Revenant and Dunkirk, or Rege-Jean Page, the Métis star of the Netflix hit Bridgerton.
Craig, 53, has retained the role longer than any of his predecessors since his 2006 debut in Casino Royale.
He received praise for adding depth and emotional complexity to the all-in-action role, but only reluctantly accepted a final appearance as Bond.
After Specter in 2015, Craig told Time Out magazine he’d rather “cut his wrists” than reprise the role, but recently apologized for appearing flippant.
Emmy-winning American director Cary Joji Fukunaga helmed the new film, becoming the first American to oversee the franchise.
Her previous films include a 2011 adaptation of author Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre.
The filmmaker came in after original director Danny Boyle, known for Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, left “creative differences” in 2018.
“The world has changed”
Fukunaga said in a promotional video that his Leap is “like a wounded animal,” struggling because “the world has changed, the rules of engagement are not what they used to be: the rules of espionage (are ) darker in this era of asymmetric warfare ”.
The Bond films are based on a character created by upper-class British writer Ian Fleming in novels published in the 1950s and 1960s.
While the MeToo movement has increased awareness of misogyny in popular culture, some have argued that the time has passed for the franchise.
The director of the new film also criticized Bond’s sexual exploits.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter magazine, Fukunaga said that in a 1960s film, “essentially the character of Sean Connery rapes a woman”.
“It wouldn’t fly today,” he said.
Among those working on the screenplay was Phoebe Waller-Bridge, British designer and star of the television series Fleabag and screenwriter of the first series of Killing Eve.
In the film, Bond trains with a black female MI6 agent, played by Briton Lashana Lynch, and has to sit behind her as she flies a plane.
“It’s an amazing time to have a black woman in a movie that sticks out,” she told Sky News on the red carpet.
“It’s really empowering for me to even play it. It was like the stars were aligned for this one,” she said.