No Time To Die is 'a bloated but entertaining slice of spy action'
- Credit: Nicola Dove, © 2019 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM
Paul Steward reviews the latest James Bond blockbuster, No Time To Die, which can be seen at Saffron Screen and Royston Picture Palace from October 22.
After a lengthy delay, Daniel Craig’s highly anticipated final outing as 007 finally arrives on the big screen and finds Bond enjoying his retirement in Jamaica, when events take an unexpected turn.
With creative differences, directorial changes and COVID delays, No Time To Die’s journey to the screen hasn’t been an easy one. But two years later than planned, True Detective director Cary Joji Fukunaga now finally brings us the 25th entry in the franchise.
Scripted by longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, together with Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the film sees Craig return as the eponymous secret agent for the fifth and final time.
Having left active service, Bond is enjoying a peaceful life, when Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) his old friend from the CIA, arrives looking for help.
Asked to track down a missing scientist, Bond is set on a collision course with a mysterious new villain in possession of a dangerous technology, which in turn leads him to cross paths with his former employers at MI6 and a brand new double O agent (Lashana Lynch).
At two hours and 45 minutes, No Time To Die is the longest Bond film yet, and it’s clear Craig and the writing team were desperate to send the actor out on a high, following the disappointment of 2015’s Spectre.
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In press interviews for the film Craig admitted they "wanted to throw the kitchen sink at this one" and it definitely shows.
There is plenty to like about No Time To Die. The opening hour is gripping, full of breakneck action and shocking betrayals, however the insistence to link events back to previous instalments bogs the film down.
Continuing the overarching narrative begun in Spectre – a film which unwisely tried to tie together all of Craig’s previous outings – the plot is overstuffed and convoluted.
The inclusion of Christoph Waltz's Blofeld from said film, only serves to dilute the impact of Rami Malek’s chief villain Safin, whom despite being a rather generic Bond baddie – facially scarred with a foreign accent – is a chilling villain and would have benefited from more screen time.
Performance wise, Léa Seydoux shines as Bonds love interest and is refreshingly given a much more prominent role than most Bond girls. However, this is clearly Daniel Craig’s picture.
In a role he’s embraced and transformed since his initial casting in 2005, he embodies the grizzled veteran agent better than ever before.
The personal stakes of the plot allow him to give the character more emotional depth, dropping the hardened façade on occasion to reveal Bonds rarely seen tender side.
While elements of No Time To Die are copy and paste Bond 101, it does try its best to break the mould.
Whether those bold decisions work will be for the viewer to decide, and it’s already clear there will be many of those, with the film shaping up to be a huge hit and a welcome shot in the arm for cinemas after a torrid couple of years.
The most personal Bond film since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, No Time To Die is a bloated but entertaining slice of spy action.
While it doesn’t reach the heights of either Casino Royale or Skyfall, it does deliver on spectacle, providing blockbuster thrills and a poignant send off for Craig as one of cinema’s most recognisable icons.