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No Time to Die Review

“I’m going to tell you a story about a man called Bond, James Bond” – Madeleine Swann


Daniel Craig's Last Foray as James Bond 'No Time to Die' Pushed Back Again  to October: Report | PEOPLE.com

 

Before I lay my cards on the table, there’s a little bit of stuff I want to get dealt with in the interests of honesty and open – because when I review a movie, I’m nothing if not blunt and honest. First off, I’ve been a fan of the Bond movies ever since being taken to the old Palladium cinema in my home town to watch You Only Live Twice when I was around seven years old. With the exception of Moonraker, I’ve more or less loved the franchise. (Moonraker was too tiresomely comedic in tone for me. I consider it to be the one I have to watch to get to the superior For Your Eyes Only, and it’s a chore.)

But of all the Bonds, Daniel Craig was initially the one I found hardest to warm to, and it didn’t really happen until his third outing, Skyfall. Two things came into play here – the Bonds had never had a continuing story arc, and it was rare for a reference to be made to any of the earlier films. The films in the Craig series were tightly linked, and a bit darker in tone and more realistic than we had previously seen. The gadgets were largely absent. And I think I was smarting from the dropping of Pierce Brosnan in the role, as I’d really enjoyed those films. I was always going to see the final Craig Bond in the cinema, because I always do. But I was looking forward more to seeing what would happen with the series next. Would we get back to business as usual?

Then, a world-wide pandemic happened, and No Time to Die was cancelled after the release of a tantalising trailer which in one way piqued my interest with a gadget laden Aston Martin DB5, and in another had me rolling my eyes because it featured the return of a Bond girl from a previous film, so just another episode, then.

The pandemic more or less wiped-out cinema for well over a year, and the postponed releases are now hitting the multiplexes. Some of those releases have been worth the wait, others haven’t lived up to the hyped-up anticipation. But No Time to Die, being the first to have been postponed, carries with it a lot of expectations. More, even than a Marvel movie. And we’ve been seeing the trailers for more than a couple of years. Did they contain all the best bits?

Another concern of mine was the girl in the trailer. She looked familiar, and Bond recognised her. But I couldn’t place who she was, and in order to get the most out of this film, I decided to run through ALL the Craig Bonds before the opening day, and frankly, that was a life saver, well worth the effort as I was watching them with only a week between them so I got the full continuity, and it had been seven years since I’d last seen Craig in the role.

Thus refreshed, I was ready. The first thing I couldn’t help but noticing was that the multiplex was back to pre-pandemic levels of brisk business. I hadn’t seen the place that full since the opening of Star Wars Ep IX: The Rise of Skywalker, which shows that rear ends will return to cinema seats when you put on a huge blockbuster. It bodes well for the future.

When we last saw Bond at the end of SPECTRE he had left MI6, dropping by only to pick up his beloved Aston Martin. It was a happy ending – he left with a girl he loved, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) to live a quieter life, in retirement. And this is where we begin.

From the opening studio credits, where the Universal Pictures globe transforms into the familiar gun barrel we look through at the beginning of the classic Bond movies, I was hooked. I’m not going to go into too much detail plot-wise because there are some unexpected twists and turns here that you guys need to see for yourselves, but let’s take a critical look at the overall big picture – spoiler free.

The pre-credit sequence picks up shortly after the end of SPECTRE with Bond and Madeleine living largely off the grid and anonymously (except for driving around in a classic Aston Martin) in Italy. We all know this isn’t going to last, right? Otherwise, there’d be no film.

Post action packed title sequence (where most of the trailer seems to have been taken from) we’re in the present day. Bond is still out of action having relocated to Jamaica, and his 007 designation has been given to his replacement, Nomi (Lashana Lynch) but his past is about catch up with him.

Felix Leiter needs a favour, an off-the-books type of favour concerning people he has dealt with before, and a new weapon of mass destruction – a plague carried by microscopic nanobots, which can be programmed to home in to someone’s genetic code. I mean, really how topical given some of the outlandish conspiracy theories we’ve seen on social media concerning Covid-19. And remember, this film was produced BEFORE the pandemic. Bond predictably has to work alongside his successor, and she appears more than capable of filling his shoes. A vital clue might reside with the now incarcerated and seemingly insane Blofeld (Christoph Waltz).

And that’s all the plot I’m giving. There are twists and turns that are both shocking and a bit emotional. In fact, this is the most emotionally charged Bond film since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and there’s good background use of not only the theme music but also the Louis Armstrong “We Have All the Time in the World” song from that film. That was a hauntingly beautiful song back in ’69, and it remains so today and still packs a punch.

But that’s not all the homage to the past that’s shown here. I’ve mentioned the gadget heavy Aston Martin, which has popped up in this series of films, also on show here is the Aston Martin Vantage driven by Timothy Dalton’s Bond in The Living Daylights. As the pre-title sequence ends, we see a short sequence of multi-coloured spots on the screen, which took me straight back to the opening of Doctor No, but perhaps the best easter egg sees M (Ralph Fiennes) looking at a portrait of his predecessor Judi Dench for inspiration. Beside her, are portraits of previous M actors Bernard Lee and Robert Brown.

The famous Bond gadgets are back, but not in a contrived way. They’re tools that can be used credibly and they’re not too far fetched and outlandish. But they’re in keeping with what you’d expect the character to carry. It’s both a return to classic Bond, and a raw and emotional, grounded Bond. It has given me a fresh appreciation for the Daniel Craig era, now that I can see the whole picture.

Where does it stand alongside the other Bond films?

Well, I think it’s unfair to single this one out, great as it is. It’s the end of an immense story arc that has taken five episodes to tell, and it’s a story worth seeing. I would go so far as to say this is the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy of the Bond films. They don’t belong with the Connery, Moore, Dalton or Brosnan eras (Lazenby didn’t have an era – he had ONE film). This arc stands alone and apart as a separate entity with its own beginning, middle and end. It’s complete – and it’s perfect. 


Copyright © 2010 - 2021 Robin Pierce. All Rights reserved.


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