Post by Alexis Lebrun April 8, 2022
Like a few other blockbusters before it, the latest installment of the adventures of agent 007 has been waiting an eternity because of the health crisis. Yet another adventure for a film that has experienced a somewhat difficult development, but which offers Daniel Craig an exit worthy of his fifteen years spent in the role of James Bond, while completing the metamorphosis of the character, initiated by the actor in CASINO ROYALE (Martin Campbell, 2006).
A perfume of revolution
Between the release of SPECTER (Sam Mendes, 2015) and the start of production of DIE CAN WAIT (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2021), it will have escaped no one that the cinema industry has been faced with some upheavals. And to be quick, we will say that James Bond – a terrifically anachronistic hero in Ian Fleming’s novels as in the cinema – could hardly do without a reinvention after the #MeToo explosion. An obvious fact that comes up against several realities: in addition to being a very profitable cash machine, James Bond is a real institution of world pop culture, and the slightest development always risks triggering the anger of fans of the saga. And yet, aware of the risk of making 007 old-fashioned, the American Cary Joji Fukunaga bet on transforming what makes up the character’s DNA, a controversial choice whose shocks are still felt by certain fan communities. From the famous pre-credits scene that opens the film, the tone is set: at the wheel of his inevitable Aston Martin DB5James Bond lives la dolce vita and spins the perfect love alongside Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) on the gorgeous slopes of Matera in Italy, after handing over SPECTER boss Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) to MI6 at the end of SPECTRE.
But this romantic getaway unfortunately can’t last (for some reason we won’t reveal), and after a hair-raising action sequence involving DB5 gadgets, the plot leaps forward five years. We then find the Bond that we often used to see in films with Daniel Craig: retired, agent 007 lives alone and isolated from the rest of the world in a little corner of paradise. Again, impossible for him to be quiet and quietly sip cocktails on the beach, because a scientist who worked on a formidable virus capable of selecting its targets based on DNA has been kidnapped by the SPECTER. Forced to return to service to stop a creepy villain (played by Rami Malek) who wants to play with this virus, Bond crosses paths with good old Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and discovers that the number 007 is now assigned to an agent (played by Lashana Lynch). And if women occupy an essential place in the filmthis is no coincidence, Daniel Craig having asked for help from gifted feminist screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge to rework the film’s script and dialogues. Besides the fact that this causes a profound change in the relationship between James and the heroines he meets, it is also what allows Ana de Armas to steal the spotlight from everyone in the space of just a few minutes to a memorable action sequence in Cuba.
The Longest Leap
DIE CAN WAIT being the last episode of the franchise where Daniel Craig plays James Bond, it was not only necessary for the film to end its reign in apotheosis, but also to complete the scriptwriting loop started in 2006 with CASINO ROYALE (Martin Campbell). This is what partly explains why it is the longest feature film in the saga (2h43): the 007 films have never been so intertwined as under the mandate of Daniel Craig. We have already mentioned the characters of SPECTER who are making their return in DIE CAN WAIT and whose narrative arc must be concluded, but we can also say without spoiler that there are several big references to Martin Campbell’s film, with some revelations in size by the way. A logical choice, as Daniel Craig’s James Bond has never ceased to be haunted by the tragic finale of CASINO ROYALE in the following films. More generally, the feature film by Cary Joji Fukunaga multiplies the references to the more or less recent past of the license, to the point of sometimes turning into a model of fan service. In this regard, it is also not surprising that Dying Can Wait seems so obsessed with THE most cult film in the saga, IN HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (Peter Hunt, 1969), to which he multiplies the references. Because it is also in this episode that 007 (embodied for the one and only time by George Lazenby) falls madly in love with a James Bond girl (played by Diana Rigg), providing arguably the most unforgettable ending scene in the entire franchise.
It is difficult for DIE CAN WAIT to compete with these two glorious ancestors and the other standard meter of the Daniel Craig era, Sam Mendes’ SKYFALL (2012), especially since the film has experienced a slightly chaotic development: the English director Danny Boyle was originally slated to direct, before leaving the project over “creative differences”, and the script went through countless versions as a result, to the point that Cary Joji Fukunaga himself continued to alter it over time. of the shooting, which did not fail to complicate the work of the casting. This does not prevent the film from being a very beautiful swansong for Daniel Craig’s James Bond: there are several rather moving scenes, including a conclusion that is likely to make people talk for a long time to come. And we will also remember that Dying can wait successfully completes the transformation of 007 started in CASINO ROYALE. When Daniel Craig took over the role in 2006, James Bond had almost become a parody of himself that was hard to take seriously. Fifteen years later, he has avoided the ringardisation which threatened him dangerously and has become a great tragic and romantic figure. A revolution that we owe of course in large part to the actor, now rightfully considered the best performer of the role. Succeeding him now looks like an impossible mission.
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DIE CAN WAIT: Daniel Craig bids farewell to Bond, and it’s heartbreaking | myCANAL