With the screenplay by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, No Time To Die makes for a multifaceted, multi-genred final act of Daniel Craig’s interpretation of James Bond. It is a Bond with humour, heartbreak, horror, and unwonted humanity.
The film opens with a prelude alluding to a traumatic incident during the childhood of Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) – now enjoying a romantic holiday with Bond. Following the lengthy prelude, comes the latest-appearing, but one of the most visually impressive, Bond title sequences, featuring Billie Eilish’s theme. Though he has left active service, Bond’s retirement is only momentary as M lures him back on a new mission, which involves tying up a lot of loose ends. This time Bond is back to stop a devastating bioweapon and some old Spectre nemeses in their tracks.
Due to Spectre, No Time to Die is burdened with a mixed-blessing backstory. Though the chaotic and bloated plot is to the detriment of the film, it accommodates a class cameo by Christopher Waltz as Blofeld, with an aura reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter. Otherwise, as the record-breaking run-time of 163 minutes insinuates, this Bond film is overly concerned with giving Craig a fitting send-off. The long run-time could have been used better to build a more cohesive and engaging story and set of characters. Perhaps the emotional and more personal side of the plot should have been the bigger focus in place of the disorienting concoction of subplots that were hard to follow and largely irrelevant to this movie. A cornerstone of any Bond film is the villain, but the nefarious ‘Lyutsifer’ in No Time to Die was a regrettably generic and dull Bond antagonist that lacked an interesting motive. His world-scale plans to kill masses (via a coincidentally familiar means) are more intriguing than the villain himself.
The greatest achievement of this picture is the way it balances remaining true to the protagonist’s persona and the series, with being sufficiently self-aware and modern.
That being said, director Cary Joji Fukunaga presents a variety of well-executed action set pieces, with the gadgets, scenery and cinematography you love to see in the 007 series. The filmmakers include a satisfying number of quintessential one-liners and exaggerated evil laughs, which forever remain a part of the Bond fabric. Nevertheless, I think the greatest achievement of this picture is the way it balances remaining true to the protagonist’s persona and the series, with being sufficiently self-aware and modern.
As previously mentioned, this isn’t an all-action movie, but one that includes aspects of slapstick, suspense, romance and an impassioned James Bond. The opening scene is one of a couple of masterful sequences to which the cinematographic style and Hans Zimmer’s score adapt seamlessly, which could have come straight out of a horror film. The three women in this film, Ana de Armas (Paloma), Lashana Lynch (Nomi) and Leá Seydoux (Madeleine), also provide three contrasting female characters and a lot of unusual and unprecedented dimensions to the film. Ana De Armas steals the show during her all too short ten-minute kick-ass cameo as a spirited CIA agent. Nomi is a new 00 agent, who forms a mismatched buddy relationship with Bond as both his partner and rival. This character is a conscious nod to the controversies surrounding the casting of Bond but is ultimately an uninspiring one who we are left feeling ambivalent about and uninvested in. Despite missing some important details, Bond’s relationship with Madeleine brings personal aspects of his character to the forefront. It is refreshing to see some female features that are not just the usual attractive Bond hook-ups.
Craig has given depth to Bond and balanced all manner of emotions with subtlety and class, which has cemented him as one of the greatest Bonds to date.
To those more familiar with Bond, there is much to suggest that No Time to Die riffs off On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Indeed, the line ‘we have all the time in the world’ reappears in the latest episode, which forebodes later developments that critically rock the heart of the series.
The film marks the end of Daniel Craig’s tenure and, whilst retaining the quintessential James Bond essence, exposes sides of his character several shades more intimate than usual. No Time to Die is a well-shaken cocktail of old-school tropes and trend-breaking features. Craig has given depth to Bond and balanced all manner of emotions with subtlety and class, which has cemented him as one of the greatest Bonds to date. Over the course of Craig’s 15-year shift as Bond, he has shown increasing amounts of growth and humanity beneath the myth of his persona. After almost two years of theatrical delays, I am glad the 25th episode in the 007 series was saved for cinema release, and it’s a send-off that does not disappoint, despite the poor villain and weak plot.
Image Credits: Tumisu via Pixaby