At a little after 7am local time from creator Sir Ian Fleming’s villa in Jamaica (where all the James Bond novels were written), key details for the next 007 film were revealed in a video streamed live on social media. Radio host Clara Amfo was joined by a rolling panel of film-makers, producers and actors as information trickled out over the course of the 20 minute broadcast.
Arguably the biggest piece of news to emerge from the announcement was that which was NOT announced: though widely speculated but never confirmed, many assumed that this stream would reveal the title for the movie directed by True Detective’s Cary Joji Fukunaga. However, no such title was forthcoming, with both those present and the on-screen graphics simply using the name Bond 25.
That disappointment aside, a great deal did come to light. Firstly, a release date was confirmed: April 25, 2020 – or exactly one year to the day of this announcement, and a month currently light on big budget blockbuster releases. Producer Barbara Broccoli stated that 007 begins the story “enjoying himself in Jamaica”, suggesting this to be where he retreated into the night at the end of Spectre; this will be the third time that the Caribbean nation will feature in a Bond film and the first since 1973’s Live and Let Die. Broccoli continued, “We consider Jamaica Bond’s spiritual home … we built an extraordinary house for him” and this newly-constructed set was glimpsed as the video closed.
Unsurprisingly, London was confirmed as a location, the British capital synonymous with both Bond’s headquarters and the site of some of his most hair-raising set-pieces. These two iconic settings are to be joined by shooting in Italy – for the eighth time, most recently seen in the last 007 feature –and for the first time since Die Another Day, Norway. Its fourth appearance, the confirmation of the Scandinavian country comes a month after dramatic chase sequences across ice were reported to have been filmed there.
Aside from the revelation of Jamaica’s role in the story, plot details were mostly sparse. MI6’s American equivalent – the CIA – will apparently enlist 007’s help, a statement saying “The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on to the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.” Whether this villain is a fresh entry into the Bond canon like Skyfall’s Raoul Silva or a new take on a classic villain such as Spectre’s Ernst Blofed remains to be seen. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of the BBC hit Fleabag and the voice of L3-37 in last year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story was also confirmed to be joining the writing team, although that information has been common knowledge for some weeks now.
Of course, most of the intrigue and rumor surrounding a Bond film revolves around the cast, and in that regard this video did not disappoint. Daniel Craig was present in what is likely to be his last appearance as the seminal spy, and to no surprise he will be joined by many of his long-standing team. Fellow MI6 members M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Tanner (Rory Kinnear) will all return to assist their finest agent with their actors unchanged, as will CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). Rounding out the main returnees is Lea Seydoux’s Dr. Madeleine Swann, the fierce and capable love interest/accomplice from Spectre.
Five new arrivals were the main revelations, however: presumably following in the footsteps of dozens of incredible actresses as the next “Bond girl” is Cuban-Spanish Ana De Armas, whose biggest role to date was starring opposite Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 in 2017. After impressing in this year’s Captain Marvel as the main character’s most loyal ally, Lashana Lynch will be returning to the blockbuster scene. David Dencik (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) and Billy Magnussen (Bridge of Spies) return to the espionage genre, whilst newcomer Dali Benssalah is thrust immediately into the spotlight at a very early point in his career.
By far the biggest name announced was recent Oscar winner Rami Malek, who last year turned in a life-changing performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. Though he was not present for his unveiling, he did hint at a villainous side to his character in a pre-recorded video.
With the countdown clock to Bond 25 now firmly set at 365 days, we now have a somewhat clearer picture of what to expect from Craig and Fukunaga. Further plot details and, crucially, a title are on the way in the next few months as MGM and Universal Studios seek to ramp up already massive audience expectation. With 57 years of films and a high standard of modern iterations behind it, the road to James Bond’s latest adventure is well underway.