No Time To Die – Film Review
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Synopsis: After spending time living a peaceful, retired life, James Bond is brought back to the world of assassins and espionage when an old friend approaches him to request his help for a new mission…
Review: It has been a difficult journey for the 25th instalment of the James Bond franchise to make its way to the big screen. A planned November 2019 release date that never materialised due to creative differences, which led to initial director Danny Boyle to depart the project. The injury that star Daniel Craig suffered during its production. All of which were compounded by the multiple enforced delays to its planned release due to the COVID pandemic. It was beginning to feel like there was an unbreakable curse on this film, that would prevent it from ever seeing the light of a big cinema screen. For a film that was marketed as Daniel Craig’s final bow in this role, it has been an agonising wait for it to finally be unveiled to the public. Now at last, Craig’s Bond takes aim at his final mission, and it was worth the wait.
Following on from the events of Spectre, Bond and Madeleine (Seydoux) are living a peaceful, quiet life in picturesque Italy. However, it isn’t long before their romantic bubble is burst when some startling revelations about the past are uncovered, which threatens to tear their relationship apart. Determined to find some answers, Bond teams up with old ally Felix Leiter (Wright) who approaches Bond for his help with a mission that leads back to some familiar faces, whilst uncovering a deadly plot at the hands of the villainous Safin (Malek), that threatens to unleash global destruction.
For a time, it was very uncertain whether Craig would continue in the role due to some infamous comments that he once made when asked if he would return to the role. Right throughout his tenure, Craig has always thrown everything he’s got into the role, and it is fitting that his final turn as this iconic character is possibly his best performance. He’s a character who has been on quite the journey since we first met him back in Casino Royale. While he often exhibits the cold and stoic persona that would be demanded of a paid assassin, there is a substantial amount of emotion to his final portrayal of this character. Of the new cast members, the standout is easily Lashana Lynch’s Nomi, a new double 0 agent that Bond must work with on this mission. Ana de Armas as the CIA agent Paloma that Bond also teams up is also another delightful addition to this cast. Given that they worked together to wonderful effect in Knives Out, the chemistry between de Armas and Craig is perfect. Frustratingly, she’s given a scarce amount of screen time.
Following the tragic fate of Vesper Lynd, it would have seemed unlikely that any other woman would capture Bond’s heart. Yet, following on from her introduction in the previous film, Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann proved otherwise, given it was her that prompted Bond’s decision to retire from the life of a double 0-agent. Her performance, and the relationship that she shares with Bond here very much represents the heart of the film. There’s been no shortage of memorable women in the history of this franchise, and when looking back at this era of the Bond franchise, it will be hard not to recognise her as one of the more noteworthy Bond ladies. While Craig and Seydoux are the heart and soul of the film, it would not be a Bond film without the supporting cast. The familiar faces of Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M, and especially Ben Whishaw’s Q are all once again excellent.
The Craig era has introduced us to some of the most iconic villains, from Le Chiffre and Silva in Casino and Skyfall respectively, Malek’s Safin is not quite as memorable as the aforementioned villains. Nevertheless, he is a calm, methodical antagonist who proves to be more than a match for 007. While he was not the first choice for the director’s gig, Cary Fukunaga proved to be the perfect director for the task of giving Craig’s Bond the send off that he deserved. Craig’s Bond era has set the benchmark for gripping opening action scenes. From the enthralling opening action scene, to every action scene that the film packs into is run time, there’s a grittiness and intensity that is consistent throughout all of the action that gets the adrenaline pumping, aided by an excellent score from the maestro that is Hans Zimmer.
At 2 hours and 43 minutes, this is the longest film in the franchise’s history. Fukunaga worked on the script alongside franchise regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. As such, the film is filled with everything you have come to expect from a Bond film, as well as one of the best one-liners in this franchise’s history. One suspects that could be down to the script polishes that came courtesy of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. However, that run time does feel overly long as the film does suffer from pacing issues in a handful of places. The James Bond franchise is one that has endured over multiple decades and with five films across nearly 15 years in this role, Daniel Craig bows out of this franchise with a legacy that will live forever.
The expectations were enormous, and after an agonisingly long wait, Craig’s final bow has met those expectations in an enthralling and stylish manner. A fitting send off for one of the best actors to ever don Bond’s tuxedo.