Review of 'No Time to Die'

no_time_to_die.jpg Long delayed due to the pandemic we finally have the latest James Bond flick: No Time to Die.

The film begins with a young girl, Madeleine Swann, witnessing the murder of her mother by assassin Lyutsifer Safin ( Rami Malek, familiar to fans of “Mr. Robot”) who is searching for her father. The girl is rescued by the assassin after falling through the ice on a nearby lake. Fast forward we find an older Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) spending time with a love-smitten Bond (Daniel Craig) in Matera, Italy where Spectre attempts to kill him. Bond is bitter at Madeleine who he accuses of having something to do with the attack. More years pass and in London a top secret nano-based bioweapon code-named “Project Heracles” is stolen from an MI6 laboratory along with traitorous scientist Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik). Bond is now retired and spending his time on the beach in Jamaica but is contacted by old CIA friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) who wants to track down Obruchev. After being contacted by the new 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch), who explains “Project Hercules” Bond offers to help Leiter but after an attack on Spectre using the bioweapon and a subsequent betrayal, Bond returns to MI6, meeting an old adversary now held in a detention centre and an old lover…

This is Bond all grown-up. Gone are the days of “loving and leaving” the girl, Bond now has learned the importance of relationships and, indeed, love with a few surprises along the way that will startle fans of the franchise. Much of the focus of “No Time to Die” is on these relationships rather than large amounts of explosions (though there are some of those as well) with a lot of talking and angst throughout. I am not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, it is certainly different for your average 007 film. It seems to me that gone is some of the humour and, dare I say it, fun of earlier films and instead we are subject to a long, drawn out, character study. Even Craig has found it in him to actually emote (shock, horror!) in his last outing.

There is, of course, action, lots of it, with a couple big set pieces that are sure to entertain though many of these you can see in the trailers. A lot of violence is quite personal though, at a 12+ certificate, don't expect much blood or (much) foul language. As with many viewers part of the fun is watching the travel Bond undertakes in the film and I was pleased to see so much of London featured here including the rather off-the-beaten-track “Hammersmith Bridge” which is just down the road from where I live.

There are lots of nods to the history and tradition of Bond films which will satisfy fans but there are other significant developments (particularly the ending which I won't spoil here) that will shock such fans as well. This is a film that takes chances not the least of which in the rather long running time of almost three hours though, to be fair, the time does pass quickly as the story unfolds. On the subject of story, this one is quite complex though does, satisfyingly, have a “mad man wanting to destroy the world” involved but this is, in a way, a bit of a distraction from the main plot points involving Bond's personal life. The ending is quite a dramatic one that leaves us wondering what is next for Bond…

A deep and long character study that heralds a new chapter in the Bond franchise.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-10-02

Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Year: 2021

Length: 163 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure