When British Naval Intelligence officer Ian Fleming was plotting missions during World War II, no one could have imagined that he would later create the 20th century's most iconic fictional spy. Now, more than 75 years later, filmmakers are finally well into production on the 25th movie* in Eon Productions 57-year series of James Bond movies.
Daniel Craig has returned for a fifth go-round as Bond in a movie that he insists will be his last in the role. There's been a lot of filming drama this time around. Producers first hired Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle ("127 Hours," "Slumdog Millionaire") but Boyle left after they rejected a screenplay by his writing partner John Hodge.
Eon then brought back screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who've worked on every Bond movie for the past two decades. Eventually he also recruited hotshot American director Cary Joji Fukunaga ("Beasts of No Nation," the good first season of HBO's "True Detective).
Eon got writer Scott Z. Burns ("The Bourne Ultimatum," Adam Driver's upcoming Iraq War movie "The Report") for some rewrites. Then, Daniel Craig insisted they hire the on-fire actor/producer/writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge to punch up the Bond jokes. Waller-Bridge created, wrote and stars in the devastating and hilarious series "Fleabag" on Amazon Prime, wrote the (good) first season of "Killing Eve" and voiced the robot L3-37 in "Solo: A Star Wars Story."
Production started in May at Fleming's Goldeneye estate in Jamaica, a nice touch since the first Bond movie, "Dr. No," was also filmed there in 1962. Craig promptly injured his ankle, which caused the production to film around him to keep the film's April 8, 2020 release date.
All seems to be firing now because the producers have released a making-of promotion video about the still-untitled movie. We get to see Jeffrey Wright's return as CIA agent Felix Leiter and a first look at Lashanna Lynch (Maria Rambeau in "Captain Marvel") as Nomi. Craig seems to be in fine form as he races around Jamaica and everyone on set smiled for the cameras.
What we don't get to see is current Best Actor Oscar winner Rami Malek in his villain role. They're not going to give away the store almost a full year before release date.
Depending on your perspective, "Bond 25" is either a movie where the producers have done everything in their power to ensure they deliver the best possible movie after the relative disappointment of "Spectre," or it's a runaway train that's inspired increasingly desperate measures to keep the franchise moving. Either way, Bond will survive and we'll meet a new 007 in another five years or so.
*Eon doesn't count the comedy sendup version of "Casino Royale" from 1967 nor "Never Say Never Again," the 1983 no-hairpiece Sean Connery remake of "Thunderball" made by outside producers because of a rights glitch that's since been corrected.