It is the end of an era, Daniel Craig’s version of Bond has reached a climax, and it has been one hell of a ride. For me, Bond films are the Mona Lisa of secret agent action films, even with my love for the franchise, I say this completely unbiased – let us all try and believe that. All interpretations of Bond have left their own unique representation, with everyone having their favourite (I’m a Connery man personally), each of them ticks the boxes of what makes a compelling action film and then builds on them brilliantly, campily, extravagantly, and emotionally – Craig’s portrayal masters the humanistic emotion that plagues this version of the almighty James Bond.
The direction should be celebrated as an overwhelming success, what Cary Joji Fukunaga produced was undeniably entertaining, impressive, and satisfyingly fitting. There was a heavy expectation for this film due to delay after delay, Fukunaga delivered some fantastic action scenes, a great feeling of emotion, and a well-polished – and slick – Bond adventure. There were even some great twists that send you back through Craig’s anthology of escapades, with No Time To Die winding up all the unanswered questions of the previous films.
Stylistically, No Time To Die was exquisite – which is to be expected at the very least. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren was breath-taking, sending us on a trip of gorgeous locations like the great Bond films of old, preserving their untouched beauty and aiding to the tension throughout, especially that opening prologue – that was extremely potent. The masterful Hans Zimmer blesses us with his skills as well, elevating the ending with a magical touch, transcending an already nuanced sequence to lofty new heights. Now, we can’t forget the re-introduction of some truly sexy cars – that V8 Vantage is a work of art, as well as the classic DB5 with its throwback gadgets, a great homage to the Bond films of old.
No Time To Die begins with a flashback to a specific moment of turmoil in a young Madeleine Swan’s life, a moment that will play a significant role later. We are then treated to an exciting prologue involving an older Madeleine (Seydoux) and James Bond as they attempt to escape the clutches of some would be assailants in that classic DB5. Fast forward again 5 years (try to stick with it) and Bond is now enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service, before his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) asks him for his help in tracking down an MI6 scientist who has been kidnapped by an unknown enemy. Bond must uncover who is behind some dark secrets and what his own organization has to do with it, and with the help of new allies he must save the world from evil once again.
The plot itself involving the bioweapons of mass destruction were classic Bond; unrealistic and extravagant, but if it was something remotely obtainable, a Bond villain wouldn’t attempt it, right? Speaking of villains, although Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) was as creepy and diabolically evil as they come, I couldn’t help but feel he was slightly underused, limited to precious little screen time. He looks great, has a nasty aura about him but the exploration of his character felt abrupt, and don’t get me started on that final “fight”.
This Bond marks the end of a chapter and the start of a new one, No Time To Die consists of strong female characters; formidable allies from different heritages, it allows the franchise to evolve with the times and give it the legs to carry on into something more for the future. Ana de Armas as Paloma and Lashana Lynch as Nomi, aka 007, were both great at challenging Bond’s masculinity and power – the end of the “Bond Girl” in it’s old form could finally be done.
If I was to rank this out of Craig’s Bond films then I would put it slap bang in the middle, not quite Casino Royale or Skyfall but more polished and enjoyable than Quantum of Solace and Spectre. I felt more sadness than joy after watching it, the longest serving Bond has gone, and he has been one of the better ones for sure. We care about this more humane character; we are inquisitive at seeing how he will finally find peace – he just wants to be back on those Jamaican shores God damn it.
I am a huge Bond fan, so I was nervous about seeing this because of the delays, the change in director, the delays… again, the mystery of new characters – would it be able to live up to the heavy expectation on its shoulders? It certainly did a great job of answering most of those questions; it was invigorating and electric, it delivered little nuances of passion and feeling, and the action scenes were sublime. This is no masterpiece like some people are saying (I think the occasion may have got to them a bit) but it is a mighty fine effort and a fitting goodbye, albeit a rather sad and abrupt one.