No Time to Die is the long-awaited 25th James Bond film, and the last to star Daniel Craig. Originally scheduled for release in April 2020, we’ve had to wait 18 months longer than expected due to COVID-19. But was it worth the wait? In a word; absolutely.
The film’s opening sequence shows Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) as a child at home when a masked intruder enters their house. The intruder murders her mother and after first trying to kill Madeleine too, rescues her instead from an icy death. The story then jumps to adult Madeleine and James (Daniel Craig) on holiday in Italy after his retirement from MI6. James visits old flame Vesper’s grave, which then explodes, and he finds himself hunted by Spectre goons. He blames Madeleine for leading Spectre to him and after escaping, James leaves Madeleine behind following her betrayal.
Five years later, Bond is in retirement in Jamaica when he’s approached by old friend and CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) about one last job. The job is to hunt down a scientist Obruchev (David Dencik), who, unbeknown to Bond at the time, has stolen a valuable and lethal bioweapon. Also on the tail of Obruchev is the new 007 Nomi (Lashana Lynch), who briefs Bond on the bioweapon, known as Project Heracles, and warns him to stay away from her target.
Unsurprisingly Bond ignores Nomi’s wishes and heads out to capture Obruchev with the help of Cuban agent Paloma (Ana De Armas). While Bond succeeds, his mission comes with casualties and soon brings him back to London, where he discovers that M (Ralph Fiennes) originally commissioned the bioweapon for use by MI6 to eliminate collateral damage. The weapon is now being used by Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) as a revenge plot against Spectre, and Bond must enlist the help of his old friends Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) as well as old enemy Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) to try and stop Safin and protect those he loves.
As a swan song for Craig’s Bond, you couldn’t get better than No Time to Die. It has everything you could want from a modern-day Bond film. It throws you straight into the action from the opening sequence and is full of gadgets, camp humour and one-liners (some ridiculously cheesy, but it works because it’s Bond). It’s also full of a surprising amount of heart and we get to see a more emotional and vulnerable Bond than we’ve ever seen before. It does have an inflated run time of nearly 2 hours 45 minutes and I’m pretty sure it could’ve been cut by at least 20 minutes with little impact on the story. But despite this, I was never bored. There’s enough action and intrigue to keep you hooked throughout, and while the plot is ridiculous, you wouldn’t expect any less from a Bond film. The action is very good and quite brutal at times, it’s just a shame it’s spoilt by the shaky camera cinematography that is far too prevalent here. I hate this as I find it makes the action scenes hard to follow, and it did make me wonder if this sort of camerawork would have made it into the final edit had director Danny Boyle (who left due to “creative differences” and was replaced by Cary Joji Fukunaga) remained at the helm.
Craig is superb and while it’s sad that he’ll never play Bond again, I’m glad he got to show the sensitive side of Bond and make the most of his last outing. Lashana Lynch does well to play the new 007 however I did feel like her character was a little underdeveloped. Whereas Ana De Armas was a breath of fresh air as Paloma and her scenes were possibly the most enjoyable in the entire film, it was just a shame her screen time amounted to the bare minimum. It’s the villains however that suffer the most. Christoph Waltz as Blofeld was the best thing about Spectre, but here he’s limited to one scene that is entirely underwhelming. And Rami Malek’s Safin doesn’t appear until halfway through and when he does, he just seems like a milder version of countless Bond villains that have come before him. Considering his nefarious plans, Safin just doesn’t come across as very threatening or sinister and I found myself wanting for an over the top, caricature type villain.
However, despite these few criticisms and its bum-numbing run time, No Time to Die was worth the wait and comes with a surprise ending that is sure to raise a few tears (I for one didn’t leave with dry eyes). A hugely enjoyable and fitting end to Daniel Craig’s reign as Bond.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!