No Time To Die – The 25th episode in the venerable franchise — and Daniel Craig’s last as 007 — finds its hero in a somber mood.
No Time To Die will definitely be an emotional watch for James Bond fanatics as it’s been craftily marketed as Daniel Craig’s one last ‘reluctant’ hurrah as the flamboyant British spy. This time around; with Cary Joji Fukunaga pertaining to the director’s hat, the trademark James Bond elements like high-risk yet sleek action, gorgeous women and ever more volatile weapons are very much present but also infused, as in other Daniel Craig Bond starrers, James has a heart as crisply manoeuvred as his suits.
“The name is Bond… James Bond,” feels a whole lot different from Daniel’s reiteration because the makers have understood how a problematic character like James Bond needs to evolve with time. Hence, it was a smart move to have Bond writers Neal and Robert, along with Cary, get the feisty feminine touch with Phoebe Waller-Bridge enlisted for No Time To Die. Women writing male characters will always have a deeper edge to not just his physicality, but his innermost feelings, and that’s exactly what a hard-headed MI6 agent like Bond needed to get with the time. We see that with Daniel’s invigorating, taut performance as well with many agreeing that he is the greatest James Bond to date, thanks to the 21st century makeover.
In No Time To Die, we see James enjoying retirement life (whilst still looking over his shoulders in equal caution!) with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) in Italy. “We have all the time in the world,” Bond quips, which as we will soon come to know, they don’t. James is attacked by Spectre assassins and his untrusting mind looks at Madeleine as the guilty ‘betrayal’ spectator. We then fast forward to five years later, where the forlorn lovers are forced to reunite after MI6 scientist Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik) is kidnapped and with him, Project Heracles, a bioweapon infused with nanobots that infect like virus upon contact and which are coded to a person’s DNA, is compromised, landing in very wrong hands.
Bond is begrudgingly taken out of retirement from Jamaica as he’s enlisted by CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and his colleague, Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen), a certified Bond fanboy, to retrieve Valdo from Cuba. This is where CIA agent Paloma (Ana de Armas) arrives, who isn’t as rookie an agent as she claims to be, and aids Bond in his mission. Thanks to M’s (Ralph Fiennes) involvement in the deadly project, alongside Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear), M’s chief of staff, and with Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) as the ultimate convincers, Bond decides to steep deeper into the case as the twists keep pouring in. What makes it personal, however, is the involvement of Madeleine in the scenario, thanks to the main antagonist of No Time To Die, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), with sidekicks like Primo (Dali Benssalah). Moreover, Bond butts heads with his 007 replacement, Nomi (Lashana Lynch), who is as deadly an opponent as James himself.
The plot may seem a bit too far-fetched, especially in the closing few moments, with the final set at a missile base-island turned nanobot factory. With a run time of two hours and 43 minutes, the longest Bond movie to date, there are several plot loopholes that can distract if you’re a casual viewer just looking for entertainment. However, since the get-go, No Time To Die is dedicated to Daniel Craig’s last tryst with the British spy and hence, the supporting cast is mere fodder to fancy up Bond even more lavishly. And that’s something Bond fans will hungrily consume, satiated.
That’s not to say the supporting cast of No Time To Die doesn’t do a fine job, because they very much deliver in spades. The spirited women, in particular, pack a punch because of the refreshing change that they don’t all end up in bed with Bond and actually have enriching backstories, begging to see more. Léa’s performance as Madeleine helps exponentially in seeing the vulnerable man, hidden behind his suits and “vodka martini, shaken not stirred.” The big reveal in the second half of the movie, pertaining to their complicated love story, steers Bond into uncharted territories of family and sacrifice. Lashan as Nomi shows tremendous potential and is equally worthy of carrying the 007 moniker, thanks to a spunky “butting heads turned mutual respect” equation with Bond. Ana’s Paloma delivers a knockout but short-lived performance because you’re deeply disappointed with her limited screen time as she stylishly kicks some major butt. The palpable chemistry between Bond and Paloma had an electrifying vibe without feeling forced and reminded us of Daniel and Ana’s chemistry in Knives Out. We’d love to see more of her! As for the OG players; Ben, Naomie, Jeffrey and even Ralph, each bring in their trademark quirky qualities that made them fan-favourites, especially Q.
For Bond aficionados, the action set pieces are as enthralling and high risk as you’d expect from this franchise yet they have a glamorous touch to it which leaves you in awe. Notably, the Italy chase sequence where Spectre hitmen target Bond and Madeleine with an influx of bullets while they’re precariously guarded by the good looking Aston Martin and bells constantly ringing in the background for added effect. The weapons of choice this time around are borderline tacky and epic, depending on your mood really. Even the Cuba sequences which see Bond, Paloma and Nomi using different fight tactics are interlaced perfectly thanks to Linus Sandgren’s complex cinematography complemented by Elliot Graham and Tom Cross’ action-driven editing. John Barry’s iconic James Bond tune is flavoured just right with Hans Zimmer’s magnetic score while the globe-trotting production design by Mark Tidesley is nothing short of travel envy. Notably, the opening credits artwork with Billie Eilish’s hauntingly beautiful theme song, No Time To Die, was a visual spectacle for me.
In finality, I would say No Time To Die is a befitting adieu to Daniel Craig’s James Bond of extravagant, grandiose proportions. Simply because you’re darn curious to know if Bond would miraculously make it out alive, one last time! And that, I consider as a win.