No Time To Die – Review


“NO TIME TO DIE”

No Time To Die is the twenty-fifth James Bond film and also will be the final one to feature Daniel Craig in the title role. The film has had a somewhat troubled release schedule—it was supposed to release in April 2020 but was put on the backburner because of the pandemic, just a few weeks before the first lockdowns were put in place. Since then, it’s been bouncing around the release schedule, finally releasing over a year and a half after what was meant to be its initial release date. This film also had a troubled production in quite a few ways. It was originally supposed to be directed by Danny Boyle who would also write the screenplay, however he backed out of the project and Cary Joji Fukunaga stepped into the role.

Now, I personally am not the biggest Bond fan in the world; I like a few of the films but I’m not what you’d call a connoisseur of them. I certainly could do a whole list ranking all 25 films but, as a whole, I wouldn’t say I’m a mega fan. However, I have personally been a fan of the Daniel Craig era since there has only been one underwhelming film in the bunch, that being Quantum of Solace which was a bit of a mess, not helped by poor decisions and behind-the-scenes troubles. But I really liked Casino Royale and I was a fan of Skyfall. Spectre, on the other hand, I reviewed it and stand by most of what I said in that review: it’s a fine film but it’s ultimately a bit underwhelming when compared with Skyfall. Now, normally I would go into a plot synopsis but I actually think the trailers have been purposely vague about the plot for No Time To Die, so I’m going to be incredibly vague myself, especially considering that there is a lot that happens and I can’t really discuss a large majority of it without spoiling a lot of what wasn’t in the trailer. But this is definitely very similar to Quantum of Solace in one way: it takes place almost immediately after the events of the previous film, that being Spectre. And quite a bit that happened in that film is going to affect your understanding of this film. Now, Spectre definitely further tied together all the three previous films leading up to that point, and the Daniel Craig era has been the one with the most established continuity between all the films. Most of the cast of Spectre are still in here: Lea Seydoux is back as Madeleine, Ralph Fiennes is M, Ben Whishaw is Q, Naomie Harris is Moneypenny, and, of course, Christoph Waltz does briefly reprise his role. (I don’t think that’s a spoiler because it was in most of the trailers.)

One of the major reasons I think this one was delayed is because it does deal with themes of bioweapons and engineered viruses created on the down low by governments to be used as weapons. Honestly, if I didn’t know better, I’d say this film had been written by an anti-vax COVID conspiracy nut because it really reads like something that they would come up with. But it also proves that it’s a very sensitive issue and I think they’ve definitely released it at the right time. Let’s face it—this film really couldn’t have been pushed back any further. The film also involves Bond coming reluctantly out of retirement following the events of Spectre and it actually leads to something that people have been questioning the idea of: a female 007, which this film does give us in the form of Lashana Lynch who plays Naomi, who inherits the title of 007. Now, if the film is setting her up to be a potential future protagonist in further films, I think they’re going to need to do a bit more with her. No offense to Lashana Lynch who’s playing the role very well and plays a very likeable character, but they need to show more of her personality. There’s certainly a lot of it at the beginning of the film but it does feel like, when it goes back to being The James Bond Show, there’s less and less of it. When you do these films, you need a big personality at the forefront; I think she’s capable but it would require a better script, and that is of course if that is the plan rather than to simply recast James Bond in the future.

Now, obviously Lea Seydoux returns to be the love interest again so that fills that criteria. There’s not really a new Bond car this time; he’s still driving around in the DB5 from the previous films, so the only other things to talk about are the theme song and the villain. Let’s start with the theme. This time the theme went to Billie Eilish who also co-wrote the song. A fine choice though I’m personally not the biggest Billie Eilish fan, but I will say this song is one of her best ones. It’s not my favourite Bond theme of the Daniel Craig era—I’d still say that’s ‘Skyfall’ with second place going to ‘You Know My Name’—but I preferred it to Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ and I much preferred it to ‘Another Way To Die’ from Quantum of Solace which rightly so is generally considered one of the worst Bond themes. The only one I think that beats it is Madonna’s ‘Die Another Day’ which is an appalling song. I think Eilish’s song also really fits the tone of the film—it’s very sombre and suits the idea of it being a fight to the finish, which is fitting given that this will be Craig’s final time in the role.

Now that Craig has completed his time in the role, I can safely say that I personally think he’s done a very good job as Bond. He’s brought his own style whilst maintaining a lot of what made the character so good, and I think he’ll go down as one of the better James Bonds when all is said and done. And this film I think is actually a great send-off for him. It once again is very much a story about James Bond himself, and they go in directions with the character that I really wasn’t expecting. This is one you really want to watch to see for yourself; they did a very good job not giving away a lot about this film in the trailers. Trust me though, I thought this was a fantastic performance from Daniel Craig and I’m hoping that this will now give him carte blanche to get almost any role he wants. I also felt this was an excellent performance from Lea Seydoux, but then again, she’s a really good actor; she actually can really carry a lot of the projects she’s in and I would view her as underrated. For example, I actually thought she did a brilliant job carrying a lot of Death Stranding considering that she has to kind of be one of the emotional rocks of that story, and I think she got overshadowed by Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen’s performances. 

Now we have to talk about the villain. When I heard Rami Malek was going to be playing the Bond villain this time around, I was actually kind of hyped—I thought that was perfect casting. Malek is obviously a very versatile actor, coming off winning an Oscar for playing Freddie Mercury. Come to think of it, he also has motion captured his face into video games for Until Dawn which was also a seriously great performance. The thing is though, this might be one of the more forgettable Bond villains. For one thing, he’s not in the film all that much; he really doesn’t appear in a big way until at least halfway through and then isn’t really prominent until the final third. I like the personal ties he has to the characters and I think they did a good job giving him a good backstory but they didn’t give him much motivation; they give him one early on but that gets dealt with halfway through the film. And with that gone, he’s just doing what he does… because it’s what he was going to do. I don’t understand what the profit to his plan is. It’s like, you created this device that will let you kill millions—what are you going to do with it? The Bond villain plans actually never really make much sense for the most part but this one felt a bit glaring, and if you think I’m wrong on that, really analyse Goldfinger’s plan—it was actually really stupid when you think about it. Malek is a great actor and delivers a good performance but his character doesn’t have a lot of personality either. They try to go with this idea that he and Bond are two sides of the same coin but it just doesn’t really fly in this one because they don’t show enough to prove that. I feel like there was more to this character that they were going with but that got lost through deleted scenes, something we probably won’t find out about until we get the Blu-ray.

No Time To Die is not a film I consider on the same level as Casino Royale or Skyfall but it’s still a really good film and a good way for Daniel Craig to leave the role. I’ll be interested, given the direction the Bond films have gone so far, where they’ll be going in the future, but as a whole I felt like this film really did a lot more with the Bond franchise than I was expecting. I was expecting a rather middling film for Daniel Craig to go out on but they actually do try to make it a big hurrah. How this will stand up in the grand scheme of things we’ll have to wait on, but I’ll say at this point in time I think it’s a really good one. If you are a fan of the Bond franchise and particularly the recent spate of films, if you haven’t already seen it, I think you owe it to yourself to check it out.
 
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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