No Time To Die's a pretty controversial film among Bond fans from what I can see. I know some people sit on opposite sides of the fence with it, but I feel I'm in the camp that enjoyed a lot of it but felt, much like Spectre, that it needed at least another two drafts of the script in order to get everything right. I know there are elements a lot of people really like about it (people seem very fond of the Cuba scenes for example) and other things people dislike (the ending, which doesn't work for everyone, me included). Regardless, I think most people can agree it's not a perfect film in terms of script for various reasons.
So, my question is if you were a producer/the creative lead and the film we got was in its script form, what would you change about in order to get the best Bond film possible?
For me, I'd change the beginning slightly. I like the scene with a young Madeline/Safin and would keep this. I also like much of the action, but I don't like how the film adds this odd subplot of Blofeld trolling Bond by trying to convince him that Madeline is an agent of SPECTRE. I find this contrived as a) I don't believe Bond would ever think that Madeline was an agent of SPECTRE to begin with and b) I as a viewer never thought this would be the case. Keep the assassination attempt on Bond, but cut Blofeld's ploy to convince Bond that Madeline has set him up. Like in the film we got, Bond would thwart SPECTRE'S attempts to kill him, but he would make the decision never to see Madeline again as he would presumably believe this gives her and him the best chance of survival. He could even be quite cruel to her when he does this in order to get her to leave.
I'd also adapt the nanobots slightly to include Safin's expertise of plants/poisons. Instead of the nanobots being already developed as in the finished film, perhaps they are just weaponised tech to be used once, and Safin is the one who develops the method of transmitting them to the intended target through other people. Could even make up some fake plant that he adapts this idea from. I would, however, specify that the nanobots are not permanently inside someone but merely transmit themselves from person to person through touch. I'd also specify that while much of SPECTRE is killed during the Cuba sequence there are still remaining members. Also I'd rather Felix not die but be badly wounded (akin to the Live and Let Die novel).
I'd keep everything more or less the same from here with these little changes in mind until after Blofeld's death. I'd cut out Mathilde entirely. Bond confronts Madeline in her childhood home. I still think there's room for pathos here - Bond could be heartfelt saying how he only wanted to protect Madeline and now that SPECTRE is almost gone they can start a life together. Madeline could in turn be unsure about this, claim that death seems to follow Bond, questions whether they can realistically start a family etc. Oh, and for reasons clear later they need to make up and shag at some point. Same as in the finished script, Safin and his men come after them and Madeline is captured.
The third act is where I'd make the most changes. I'd have Safin's ultimate plan be to use the nanobots to assassinate the remaining SPECTRE agents, but due to some sort of quirk with its method of transmission Q works out that it could kill many people with similar DNA patterns (or perhaps mutate to do so, if that doesn't hit too close to home with Covid).
Safin's relationship with Madeline needs to be changed too. I like the idea of Safin having been born with his heart on the wrong side of his chest like the titular character in the Dr. No novel, which could be how he survived the fact that Madeline shot him. After this, perhaps he found a new lease on life or something (albeit in his own twisted mind) and could even claim that since Madeline kickstarted this he has some sort of infatuation or 'love' for her, which would explain why he's keeping her in his lair. Perhaps he could even claim that he was inspired to do all this because of her. I'd change Safin's lair too - have it be more of a mix of organic, poisonous plantation inside glass domes and industrial surroundings (like he's trying to 'preserve' his father's garden).
Bond's interaction with Safin should be changed too - he could still claim him and Bond are similar, but only because of how much pain SPECTRE caused them, and perhaps because of their shared love of Madeline. When Bond tells him that the nanbots could kill many other people, however, Safin should dismiss this. The guy doesn't care. Bond quickly realises he's crazy.
I'd have the climax be similar to the film, Nomi and Bond infiltrate the lair. Madeline and Nomi escape and Bond goes commando before the missiles are set to launch. Same as in the finished script Safin manually closes the shutters. Bond, however, now has to go through the poisonous garden to get to the switch. He tries to avoid the deadly plants but is shot by Safin. A struggle ensues, and in the midst of this Safin and Bond come in contact with poisonous plants. Safin, the weaker man, is dying quickly. He asks Bond why he can't just understand why he wants revenge and once again points out that SPECTRE caused him much misery too. Once again he claims they're the same. Bond replies they are not - he would never let innocent people die because of him. Safin laughs and says perhaps not, but now both of them will die the same way. Bond rushes to the switch and stops the shutters. He has his goodbye with Madeline over the radio and collapses before the missiles destroy the castle. Bond's heart monitor flatlines.
Back in London a small funeral service is held for Bond, which Madeline, the MI6 regulars and a wheelchair bound Felix attend. M says to Madeline that although Bond was a man with flaws he had the virtues of bravery, patriotism and love for her.
The next scene we see Madeline driving in Bond's DB5 in Italy. She whispers to herself 'you were right James, we have all the time in the world'. A shot of her as she puts a hand to her stomach...
Back at Q-Branch, Q is staring at Bond's heart monitor. Moneypenny comes in, to which Q admits that he sometimes thinks there's a small chance Bond could have made it out - the poison is not always deadly with adrenaline, he could have gotten out in time, and his heart rate would be out of range to pick up. Both quickly dismiss this idea however and leave. Bond theme slowly begins. We push in towards the monitor. A single beep before we cut to black.
Sorry for the long post. Anyway, anyone else have any alternative adaptations they feel would make NTTD better? :)