It is said that No Time to Die will be the twenty-fifth and last Bond movie made. There are two possible reasons. First, it is likely that the Broccoli franchise was only allowed to make 25 Bond movies. Second, I think exhaustion is most likely, and not just any old exhaustion, the sexual exhaustion of five ageing actors, not to mention James Bond himself.
At the end of the novel, You Only Live Twice, James Bond is missing presumed dead in Japan. He had been knocked unconscious after killing Ernst Stavro Blofeld to save the Empire. Suffering amnesia he is persuaded by his Japanese lover, Kissy Suzuki, to live with her as a Japanese fisherman.
Since Bond is presumed dead M, the head of MI6, authors an obituary in The Times which discloses some important genealogical information about him. We are informed that though Bond attended Eton as a twelve-year-old, he was expelled after only a year because of some trouble with the boys’ maid; a precocious vice that recurs throughout his career. After attending Tony Blair’s old school, Fettes, in Edinburgh, we learn:
By the time he left, at the early age of seventeen, he had twice fought for the school as a light-weight and had, in addition, founded the first serious judo class at a British public school. By now it was 1941 and … he entered a branch of what was subsequently to become the Ministry of Defence.
A skinny boy who liked to be beaten around the ring brings to mind the penchant of some Australians educated in the UK. Since Bond was 17 when he entered the Ministry of Defence in 1941, we know that he was born in 1924.
That age is important because it means that by the time of his first cinematic exploit, Dr No, in 1962, Bond was already 38 although the director felt it necessary to leave Ursula Undress and the heavy lifting to Sean Connery who was only 32 and, oddly, in better condition.
Thirteen years earlier, Bond had met Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, which allowed Fleming to demonstrate his skilful use of metaphors since a Vesper has a step-through chassis, while one throws a leg over a Suzuki.
After ten years, during which Bond was busy saving the empire from Smersh and Spectre, Connery was so tired by the physicality of women like Pussy Galore that by 1973 he was pleased to hand the role over to the ever-so-suave, Roger Moore where it stayed until 1983 when an exhausted Moore handed it back to Connery for one year while Roger got ready for Moore.
Stamina? Think of this for a moment: James Bond was 60 in 1984; and for twenty years he saved the empire from evil while meeting and making love to a significant number of young women and doing all the things for which the movie franchise needed both Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. If only that stamina could find its way into the British Olympic team.
Note that in the 2006 version of Casino Royale, James Bond is 82. Ursula Undress has died (from exhaustion) so a much younger Vesper is introduced, to be played by the beautiful Eva Green. It would have been too much for Bond; but not for Daniel Craig who was only 38.
Now, I know it’s possible, but at 82 I don’t think Bond would have been able to remember the rules of Texas Hold’em. And if Craig needed a defibrillator for cardiac arrest during the poker game, Bond would have needed life support after step-through poker with Vesper.
Sometime during 2021, Bond in No Time to Die is found in Jamaica drinking shaken martinis of gin and vermouth when CIA agent Felix Leiter asks him for help to track down a British scientist whose invention could end civilisation. The movie is filled with car chases, motorcycle chases, gunfights, choking, deaths, deep and meaningful conversations about the meaning of love, of life of M’s responsibility for giving Bond’s 007 code to a woman.
But what is missing for the first time ever from that Bond movie, is sex, raw, unadulterated, passionate, tunnel of love, sex. Bond does not get laid. There isn’t any after-midnight action, soft, hard or middling. We do find Daniel Craig in bed with Lea Seydoux, but Craig is asleep and Seydoux is sedated throughout the film.
This was the only concession that the franchise was prepared to make to the fact that Bond was 95 years old in No Time to Die and when at that age Bond gets into bed only sleep is on his mind.
James Bond will be 100 years old in 2024, 107 in 2031. In truth, while they killed Bond off out of sympathy, he would have died anyway from sexual exhaustion. It was, after all, his Time to Die, which is what the movie should have been called.
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