There have been more than two dozen James Bond movies so far. That number includes a little-seen 1954 TV adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first 007 book, Casino Royale, which was published just a year earlier. That same work has shown up as two other films over the next five decades.
We outline the Stories Behind All 26 James Bond Movies below, revealing the history and secrets of the longest-running franchise in film history.
‘Casino Royale’ (1954)
The first adaptation of Ian Fleming’s James Bond was an episode of the TV anthology series Climax! Played by Barry Nelson, the protagonist is referred to as « Jimmy, » not James Bond, and is Americanized in the teleplay. The show also featured Peter Lorre as the villain, Le Chiffre. Due to the novel’s rights being sold prior to the combined production relationship between Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, Casino Royale would be adapted again in the late ’60s as a satire starring David Niven as James Bond. In 1999, MGM agreed to pay $5 million to Sony Pictures Entertainment to cement its rights to the entire Bond franchise, as well as to obtain the rights to Casino Royale.
Read More: Sean Connery Was Not the First James Bond
‘Dr. No’ (1962)
Few movies debut as « franchise-ready » as Dr. No did, even though the . of the ’60s wasn’t as obsessed with universe-building as it is now. The first James Bond 007 film was made by Eon Productions, a union between rivals Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman that merged to secure the rights to Ian Fleming’s literary output. In Dr. No, Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a fellow agent. In so doing, Bond, with the help of Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), foils the nefarious Dr. No’s (Joseph Wiseman) plans for world domination. Almost all the pieces are in place: James Bond’s inclinations for action and lust, broad-brush villains, massive villain lairs (designed by series regular Ken Adam), Bond girls and the iconic theme song written by Monty Norman, complete with instantly recognizable twangy guitar over the top.
Read More: How ‘Dr. No’ Launched James Bond and Changed Moviegoing Forever
‘From Russia With Love’ (1963)
One year later, James Bond returned in From Russia With Love, again featuring the hard-edged Connery as well as Dr. No director Terence Young. Bond is dispatched to enable the defection of Soviet consulate clerk Tatiana Romanova. Agents of SPECTRE Donald Grant (Robert Shaw) and Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) attempt to subvert the defection and take possession of a code-breaking Lektor machine, the bargaining chip for Romanova. At the time, America’s fascination with Bond was in full force, with President John F. Kennedy stating From Russia With Love was one of his favorite novels. Production was put into high gear to capitalize on the fervor. However, production designer Ken Adam could not participate because he was working on Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, so Dr. No art director Syd Cain filled in. Two important pieces of the Bond cinematic team arrive with From Russia With Love: Composer John Barry provides the score for the film and will be integral to the series until the ’80s, and Desmond Llewellyn makes his first appearance as MI6’s quartermaster Major Boothroyd, known in later installments simply as « Q. »
Read More: Why James Bond’s ‘From Russia With Love’ Still Packs a Punch
If James Bond was a sensation after From Russia With Love, he was a full-fledged phenomenon after Goldfinger. It was the first movie helmed by action director Guy Hamilton and introduced a few new wrinkles that would stay within the Bond fabric. Auric Goldfinger plans to contaminate the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, bathing the gold in nuclear radiation and making it inaccessible for a lifetime. This would instantly make Goldfinger’s horde of gold the dominant international gold cache and, by extension, make him the leader of the world. It’s up to Bond to stop him, his henchman Oddjob and chemical weapons expert Pussy Galore. Goldfinger introduces some of the campy aspects that the Bond series would be known for later and also eases the main character’s behavior toward women. While hardly a champion against misogyny, previous outings showed Bond as likely to kill women as kiss them. With this edition, he’s far more inclined toward the latter. Another trope that comes into its own in Goldfinger is the archenemy monologue. While seen in part in the previous films, Goldfinger ups the ante as he reveals his insidious plot while Bond, tied to a metal table. has a laser slowly inching toward his crotch. Bond defiantly asks, « You expect me to talk? » Goldfinger scoffs, « No, Mr. Bond! I expect you to die! »
Read More: 55 Years Ago: ‘Goldfinger’ Helps Define the James Bond Film
Behind the scenes, the Bond series always dealt with conflict. The alliance between Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli was strictly a marriage of convenience to secure and maintain the rights to Ian Fleming’s literary catalog. Likewise, not all of Fleming’s works were 100 percent his. Thunderball was initially a movie script based on an original story by Fleming, Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham, developed before the Eon Productions deal. When that production fell through, Fleming wrote a novel based on the script’s story elements. In 1961, McClory and Whittingham sued Fleming, claiming partial authorship. The lawsuit was settled out of court. McClory retained certain screen rights to the novel’s story, plot and characters, and this chip would be cashed in as 1983’s Never Say Never Again. Such compromises would also cause Casino Royale, initially sold for the 1954 teleplay, to be out of Eon Productions’ control.
Read More: 55 Years Ago: ‘Thunderball’ Takes James Bond Fun to New Heights
‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967)
Heralded in 1967 as Sean Connery’s final go-round as James Bond, You Only Live Twice pits the Americans versus the Russians in a high-stakes standoff over mutual spacecraft disappearing in orbit. Meanwhile, MI6 believes it is a trap created by SPECTRE to pit the two superpowers against each other, resulting in chaos and allowing the enemy force to take control after the two nations have battered each other down to size. You Only Live Twice offers the first look at the face of SPECTRE’s kingpin, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. (Before, only his hand was seen petting his cat.) The screenplay was adapted by novelist Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), who would also work with producer Broccoli on the adaptation of Fleming’s children’s book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Read More: How the James Bond Franchise Wobbled With ‘You Only Live Twice’
‘Casino Royale’ (1967)
When Broccoli and Saltzman bought the rights to existing and future Fleming titles, it did not include Casino Royale, which had already been sold to producer Gregory Ratoff, with the story having been adapted for television in 1954. After Ratoff’s death, the rights were passed on to Charles K. Feldman, who subsequently produced the satirical Bond spoof Casino Royale starring David Niven as Bond, Woody Allen as Jimmy Bond – in a nod to the TV version – and Peter Sellers as yet another James Bond. This edition of Casino Royale is a product of its time, less interested in being Bond-like than in being groovy and madcap. Ursula Andress, previously Honey Ryder in Dr. No, appears as Vesper Lynd. And in a feat of inspired casting, Orson Welles plays the villainous Le Chiffre.
Read More: Why the Original ‘Casino Royale’ Is the Weirdest James Bond Film
‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (1969)
The only 007 film with George Lazenby, a model with no prior acting credits, is considered an outlier within the official Eon Productions canon. Eon had originally planned to shoot The Man With the Golden Gun in Cambodia with Roger Moore taking up the James Bond mantel. But the Vietnam War made that impossible, and Moore left, albeit temporarily, the world of James Bond. Why Lazenby? Eon wanted a new actor it could groom for stardom, rather than a big name that might overshadow the Bond character. (Moore was already a TV star.) Lazenby had a similar build to Sean Connery, meaning costumes and props could be reused. More importantly, producer Harry Saltzman liked Lazenby’s confidence, seeing it as sufficiently Bond-like. The big twist of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is Bond’s romance and marriage to Countess Tracy DiVincenzo. The role was played by Diana Rigg, fresh from her career-making role of super-agent Emma Peel on TV’s The Avengers. The movie attempts to have it both ways, edging toward the peace-love counterculture while also driving Bond back to his tough-guy persona from Fleming’s books. Lazenby’s personal inclinations were more toward the former. That, coupled with his arrogance that had been considered a virtue earlier, made him difficult to work with. The final nail in Lazenby’s 007 coffin was not that the movie underperformed at the box office (it did), but that he felt the role was beneath him, and he refused to return to the series.
Read More: ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ Tells the Best James Bond Story
‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1971)
The swinging ’60s were over and so was Lazenby’s James Bond. What’s a struggling cash cow like the 007 franchise to do? You go with what worked. This wasn’t Eon Productions’ plan for Diamonds Are Forever, however. Many actors were discussed and forwarded to United Artists Studio head David Picker, who summarily shot them all down. In his mind, it was Sean Connery or else. Connery returned as Bond (for his last film in the franchise through Eon) for around $2 million, which he donated to the Scottish International Education Trust. Director Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger) was back, as was Shirley Bassey, who previously sang the Goldfinger theme song. The plan worked, bringing the series back to profitability. Problematically, it also locked in a higher quotient of campiness that would dog the majority of the subsequent movies featuring Roger Moore.
Read More: How ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ Wasted Sean Connery’s James Bond Return
‘Live and Let Die’ (1973)
James Bond had a problem in the early ’70s. Actor Roger Moore finally got his turn as the butt-kicking, lovemaking 007, but the world was different. Activists for women’s rights saw Bond as a misogynist relic. The ongoing Vietnam War had Americans fed up with operatives, both covert and overt. Offscreen, the Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli partnership had devolved to the point where they traded off production duties to odd and even numbers, with Saltzman leading 1973’s Live and Let Die. The solution to some of these obstacles was to make Live and Let Die more campy. Plus, seeing the rise of the blaxploitation movie movement, screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz peppered the script with « honkies » and « jive turkeys. » Bond’s treatment of women remained problematic, but in keeping with the times. Live and Let Die costar Yaphet Kotto played an important role behind the scenes: He suggested to Saltzman and director Guy Hamilton (Goldfinger) that the stunt performers doubling black actors should also be black. At the time, the common practice was to have the stunt crew wear blackface, so the production’s decision to divert from the norm was progressive. It was also noticed – not positively – by the racist tendencies of the southern U.S., where most locations were shot. The intense negativity was not lost on screenwriter Mankiewicz, who fashioned the movie’s cartoonishly rural Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) as a not-too-subtle rebuke.
Read More: How Roger Moore Became a New James Bond for ‘Live and Let Die’
‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ (1974)
Audiences took to Roger Moore, making Live and Let Die a hit. Unfortunately, his presence started a debate that dogged his entire 007 run: Is Sean Connery or Roger Moore the better Bond? The Man With the Golden Gun seeks to end the argument, making Moore’s Bond a bit rougher, a little meaner and not afraid to slap around the Bond girls. Many consider this a weird combination in hindsight. In the movie, Bond is sent after the Solex Agitator, a device that harnesses solar energy as a solution to the 1973 energy crisis, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. This will pit Bond against the « Man With the Golden Gun, » assassin Francisco Scaramanga, played by Christopher Lee, taking an acting vacation from the Hammer horror-film series. The movie is loosely based on the same-named novel, Ian Fleming’s last, to capitalize on the topicality of the oil crisis. However, critics (including Roger Moore himself) expressed unhappiness with the overall results, since the movie never knows what it wants to be. It juggles hard-edged pulp and campiness. It even brings back Live and Let Die’s J.W. Pepper (Clifton James), who just happens to be vacationing in Thailand at the time. The dissonance turned off audiences. While the movie earned $20 million worldwide, it was a drop from Live and Let Die’s $35 million. Seeking a recalculation, the Bond series would take a three-year break to figure out who Roger Moore’s Bond really should be.
Read More: How ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ Almost Ended James Bond
‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977)
Although it’s the third James Bond movie with Roger Moore as 007, it can be argued that The Spy Who Loved Me is the first where Moore completely owns the role. The script uses only the title of an Ian Fleming novel – and not one he was particularly proud of. With that freedom, the moviemakers leaned on excess: more Bond girls, bigger stunts, more absurd action sequences and a winking knowledge of the silliness of it all. Bond is funnier, more charming and smoother than ever before. Audiences responded well to this revised direction. The movie grossed $185.4 million worldwide – $46 million in the U.S. – and introduced one of the series’ most iconic henchmen: the metal-toothed baddie Jaws, played by Richard Kiel.
Read More: How ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ Resurrected the James Bond Franchise
It was a great year for Bond, with The Spy Who Loved Me making the series relevant in pop culture again. But it wasn’t such a great year for movies. With the massive success of Star Wars, the word went out to filmmakers: Cool story, but how are you going to get them into space? So, in 1979, James Bond was on his way to the stars. At issue was the fact that the series was never good at restraint, and often duplicated itself, just with more. Moonraker, much like its predecessor, had very little to do with its source material. The villain is once again a wealthy madman bent on the destruction of humanity in favor of a preconceived utopian vision. Again, Bond has a contentious relationship with an agent from another nation – this time not from Russia but from the U.S. (Holly Goodhead, played by Lois Childs). If the cloned qualities of Moonraker didn’t seem obvious enough, Richard Kiel’s shine-toothed henchman Jaws returns, as does a slapstick-in-absurdum chase sequence that finds even a street pigeon doing a double-take. Critics praised the film’s bonkers attitude, and audiences ate the movie up, to the tune of a $210 million worldwide take.
Read More: How James Bond’s ‘Moonraker’ Confirmed an Unlikely Friendship
‘For Your Eyes Only’ (1981)
Even though Moonraker performed well both at the box office and with critics, the series was nonetheless getting a reputation for its silliness. For the 1981 outing For Your Eyes Only, the filmmakers chose to dial things back a little bit. The stunts are more grounded, the gadgets less prominent and Bond even turns down a roll in the sack with a willing blonde. Based on a combination of two Ian Fleming short stories, For Your Eyes Only and Risico, the movie’s premise finds Bond searching for the ATAC (Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator), the system used by the Ministry of Defense to communicate with and co-ordinate the Royal Navy’s fleet of submarines. His partner this time is Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), who seeks to avenge the murder of her parents (who were secret agents for the Brits). The balance that had to be struck was keeping the suave, smooth Bond that worked for Roger Moore, while at the same time bringing back some of the super-spy edge. This tension was at its height in a scene where Bond kicks a car, with a henchman inside, over the edge of a cliff. Moore was reluctant to film it, believing it was a return to the nastiness that undermined The Man With the Golden Gun. He was convinced to do it.
Read More: James Bond Gets Back to What He Does Best in ‘For Your Eyes Only’
Bond tails a Russian general who is stealing jewels from the Soviets and is apparently in league with a wealthy Afghan prince, Kamal Khan. Khan’s partner-in-crime, Octopussy (Maud Adams), is also the head of a criminal outfit of gem-stealing women and circus performers. The jewels are a ruse. In fact, the Soviet general is double-crossing Octopussy, secretly using her circus as cover to smuggle a nuclear weapon into a U.S. Air Force base in West Germany. Roger Moore was not intended for this 007 outing; American James Brolin was all but signed to be the next Bond. That is until Kevin McClory, the writer holding the rights to Thunderball, announced he would finally be making his movie based on the property, and it would return the most well-known Bond of them all, Sean Connery, to the role. Realizing that this was not the time to introduce an unknown in the series, producers Albert Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson made a deal for Moore to headline Octopussy. Both their movie and McClory’s, Never Say Never Again, bowed in 1983.
Read More: How James Bond Fought Off Father Time in ‘Octopussy’
‘Never Say Never Again’ (1983)
The final appearance of Connery as James Bond, Never Say Never Again, was the second film adaptation of Thunderball, this time without the big pockets and influence of Eon Productions. The movie was directed by Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back) and pitted in a box-office showdown with Eon’s Octopussy, which had been released four months earlier. In the end, both movies fared well enough. Octopussy did better in worldwide take, netting $187 million, compared to Never Say Never Again’s $160 million. However, critics were dismayed by a creeping return to silliness in Moore’s Bond, which was significantly lessened in For Your Eyes Only. Nostalgia for Connery’s Bond carried the day, even though Never Say Never Again is a mostly faithful remake of Thunderball with name changes and the addition of video games to Bond’s list of achievements.
Read More: Why Sean Connery Stumbled in His Final Turn as James Bond
‘A View to a Kill’ (1985)
There always seemed to be a problem in James Bond’s backstage world. A View to a Kill had two of them: Roger Moore’s obvious aging made the sexual pair-ups creepy, not spicy, and the stunts were clearly performed by stuntmen. Worse, Bond didn’t have the world of action all to himself anymore. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were on the rise, and the closest competition 007 ever had – Indiana Jones – was already on his second adventure. Eon Productions doubled down with A View to a Kill, but the end result only amplified the series’ deficiencies. The movie is a name-only adaptation of Ian Fleming’s short story From a View to a Kill. Instead, it borrows heavily from Goldfinger in the main villain’s extreme scheme. The movie did well at the box office but not enough to best Rambo: First Blood Part II, which opened the same day and was No.1 in that weekend with a gross of $25.2 million from 2,074 theaters. A View to a Kill was Roger Moore’s last Bond movie.
Read More: 35 Years Ago: James Bond Hits Midlife Crisis in ‘A View to a Kill’
‘The Living Daylights’ (1987)
Nothing ever goes as planned. NBC canceled the detective dramedy Remington Steele, leaving star Pierce Brosnan able to pursue new work. Eon Productions came calling. However, the fanfare surrounding the potential of Brosnan becoming Bond reignited interest in Remington Steele, and the clock was ticking on his contract. On its very last day, the TV network announced it had renewed the show for an additional two seasons, forcing Brosnan out of the Bond role. The actor the 007 producers « settled » with turned out to be a great and underappreciated choice: Welsh-born and theatrically trained Timothy Dalton had the chops and the youth to carry the baton forward. He was a credible swashbuckler, even in silly circumstances, as was shown in his turn as Prince Baron in the ’80s adaptation of Flash Gordon. Most importantly, his stern face and no-nonsense demeanor signaled a clear return to a Bond that’s much more grounded than the Roger Moore entries. His first Bond movie, The Living Daylights, is more in keeping with the intentions of Ian Fleming’s books.
Read More: A New James Bond Plays 007 by the Book in ‘The Living Daylights’
‘License to Kill’ (1989)
In the first James Bond film to be rated PG-13 – and a hard PG-13 at that – and the last to feature Timothy Dalton in the role, License to Kill offers a glimpse of what the series would become in the Daniel Craig years. Gone are the winks, nods and slapstick double takes of old. It was Dalton, in lockstep with the Eon Productions team, who wanted to take the character back to the source material. While the film is not a direct adaptation of an Ian Fleming book, its tone is the closest to his Bond – the cold-blooded, ruthless secret agent who kills without hesitation. In License to Kill, Bond’s U.S. counterpart Felix Leiter is mutilated by the drug lord Sanchez (Robert Davi). Leiter’s wife is murdered. MI6 reprimands Bond for going on a personal vendetta against the kingpin and revokes his license to kill. (In fact, License Revoked was the intended title for the movie.) Bond goes rogue to finish the job. Benecio Del Toro steals scenes in one of his first roles as Sanchez’s main henchman. Critics appreciated the leaner, meaner Bond, but audiences responded poorly to the movie’s brutality.
Read More: How ‘License to Kill’ Almost Murdered the James Bond Franchise
GoldenEye, the first Pierce Brosnan Bond film, is full of other firsts, including Judi Dench debuting as M, two future X-Men – Famke Janssen and Alan Cumming – costarring and Sean Bean getting killed onscreen twice. The movie reinvigorated the series by offering the action and sex audiences expected with a twist they weren’t. Yes, the Russians were once again the adversaries, even though the world was already post-glasnost and post-Berlin Wall. The secret is in Bean’s Alex Trevalian, a former MI6 agent seemingly seeking vindication for his Russian family members but actually pulling a massive heist a la Hans Gruber in Die Hard. The movie reassured old and new fans alike that the 007 mantel was in good hands with Brosnan.
Read More: 25 Years Ago: Pierce Brosnan’s ‘GoldenEye’ Revives James Bond
‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ (1997)
Legend has it that in the late 1890s, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst said to a reporter covering the Spanish-American War, then in its waning days, « You furnish the pictures. I’ll furnish the war. » Tomorrow Never Dies does this one better by having media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) instigating tensions between the U.K. and China. Which 24-hour-news-cycle cable network would be best positioned to get the scoop on World War III? Despite being well-received by critics and audiences, it isn’t Carver’s warship-swallowing stealth watercraft that steered the movie to an unusual No. 2 box-office opening; it was James Cameron’s Titanic that debuted on the same weekend. One notable point about Tomorrow Never Dies: It pairs Judi Dench with her As Time Goes By costar Geoffrey Palmer as British Admiral Roebuck.
Read More: How James Bond’s ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ Eerily Predicted the Future
‘The World Is Not Enough’ (1999)
The last Bond film of the 20th century finds him attempting to protect heiress Electra King (Sophie Marceau) from Renard (Robert Carlyle), a terrorist with a bullet in his head that causes him to feel no pain. But Bond is being double-crossed, because Electra is working with Renard. The World Is Not Enough is remembered not for the plot, but for two other things. On one hand, Desmond Llewellyn hands off Q-Division to his replacement, played by John Cleese, in a bittersweet sendoff moment; on the other, Denise Richards is miscast as nuclear physicist Christmas Jones. Her performance is widely considered one of the worst in the franchise, even earning the actress a Razzie award. The final line of the movie is the cringe-worthy Bond double entendre, « Christmas is going to come twice this year. »
Read More: Why James Bond Fans Either Love or Hate ‘The World Is Not Enough’
‘Die Another Day’ (2002)
The first Bond movie of the new millennium, and the last with Brosnan in the role, Die Another Day starts off strong. Bond is captured in North Korea and tortured for information for 14 months. He’s retrieved by MI6 in a prisoner trade but is no longer trusted. Q believes Bond must have broke and given up vital secrets. His license to kill is, once again, revoked. Widely viewed by Bond fans as one of the worst of the series, Die Another Day is weighed down by endless Easter eggs from previous Bond films, supposedly to celebrate the 40th anniversary of 007 films. Heavy-handed fan service, notoriously sketchy special effects and a B-plot with a British billionaire businessman who is actually so close to the A-plot that it ruins the notable first act all confirm the complaints of the faithful. The one takeaway from the first part of the movie, coupled with the rise of Jason Bourne the same year, was that audiences were ready to leave the cartoonish version of James Bond behind. Luckily, Eon Productions and MGM were back in possession of the rights to the first Bond book, Casino Royale.
Read More: How ‘Die Another Day’ Catapulted James Bond Into the 21st Century
‘Casino Royale’ (2006)
« The bitch is dead now. » The last line of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, summed up the cold-blooded nature of his super-agent James Bond. The author described 007 as « a blunt instrument. » The third adaptation of the novel, and first movie starring Daniel Craig, finally had the freedom to make the character on the screen the closest he’d ever been to what’s on the page. It wasn’t without controversy. Fans of the series were appalled when the choice of Craig was announced. He was asked in press conferences if he would dye his blonde hair. He wouldn’t, and many saw his casting as the ultimate insult to the role … until they saw the movie. Casino Royale is helmed by Martin Campbell, who directed GoldenEye. Throughout the movie, this new version picks up the tropes audiences expected – the insatiable appetite for women, fine drink and fast vehicles – but they’re affectations, put on like costumes to assist in completing the mission. Consequently, the movie doesn’t end with the book’s famous last line – although it includes it – but with « The name’s Bond … James Bond. »
Read More: How ‘Casino Royale’ Rebooted James Bond for the 21st Century
‘Quantum of Solace’ (2008)
Critics and fans agreed that the first James Bond film to be a true sequel to the game-changing Casino Royale was a mess. Bond seeks answers about the shadow organization Vesper Lynd was involved with, Quantum, and ends up jetting around the world killing the people who might have addressed his questions. Although the movie’s title is based on an Ian Fleming short story, the movie was not. There wasn’t a completed script due to a Writers Guild strike at the time, so much of it was being written on the fly by director Marc Forster (World War Z, Monster’s Ball) off a skeletal draft from longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis (Crash). Critics cited several problems including abuse of « shaky cam, » near-seizure-inducing editing and poor continuity. Character motivations flip not from scene-to-scene but from shot-to-shot within single scenes. Most egregious of all, the promise of a true sequel to the previous movie ends up being mostly peripheral to unrelated plot points. After having such a triumphant return with Casino Royale, the franchise was back on the ropes.
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Every long-running franchise faces the problem of the stakes. The James Bond team had it worse in that it had built its reputation upon being bigger, bolder and hotter with each successive entry. Likewise, the next Bond film after Quantum of Solace had to do damage control for that movie’s lukewarm reception. And to top it all off, the 50th anniversary of 007 on film was fast approaching. Eon producers Michael G. Wilson and Dana Broccoli brought in director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins to give the film rich visuals, and Adele provides a signature song that rivals the best of the previous entries. When you have an extended roster of characters that seems to survive decade after decade, your audience doesn’t fear for their lives. But Mendes shocked viewers right from the opening sequence, as Bond is shot and presumably killed. Ever since GoldenEye, Judi Dench’s M had been Bond’s scold from the sidelines. With Skyfall being her send-off from the series, the movie revolves around her, and her continued presence throughout brings out everyone’s A-game.
Read More: How ‘Skyfall’ Became One of the Best James Bond Movies Ever
Eon Productions was once again in possession of the rights to Thunderball, including Bond’s most iconic foe, SPECTRE’s Ernst Stavros Blofeld. (Not that the Bond films didn’t try to keep Blofeld involved over the years in a series of increasingly ludicrous over-the-shoulder and cat-petting shots.) Sam Mendes was back as director, and the task at hand was to tie in all of Daniel Craig’s previous outings: Le Chiffre, Quantum, even Skyfall’s Raoul Silva are retconned into being associates of SPECTRE. Mysterious baddie Hans Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) turns out to be Bond’s stepbrother, and everything that came before was an elaborate vendetta. More vexing to longtime Bond fans was that Oberhauser reveals he changed his identity to Blofeld, the upshot of it being that everything audiences experienced before was due to daddy issues.
Read More: 5 Years Ago: ‘Spectre’ Revives James Bond’s Most Iconic Villain
‘No Time to Die’ (2021)
No Time to Die was originally scheduled for release in November 2019 but was postponed to February 2020, and then to April 2020 after original director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) dropped out of the project. By the time April arrived, so did the coronavirus. The release date was again delayed to Nov. 25, 2020, and was again stymied by the pandemic. This brings us to April 2, 2021, when No Time to Die is expected to be released worldwide in theaters, barring further pandemic delays.