Film Review: ‘James Bond: No Time To Die’

Starring: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Léa Seydoux, Remi Malik, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas

Originally Released in 2021

Review by Miriam Atkinson

Delayed from 2020 due to the pandemic, the 25th 007 film No Time To Die was finally released in late 2021. After fifteen years the film marks Daniel Craig’s final appearance as the titular secret agent.

The film begins with a flashback to when Madeline Swann was a child and her mother was killed. Jumping forward to the present we see Bond and Swann enjoying their life together until an attack by Spectre agents leads Bond to abandon Swann. Five years later, Bond is retired but when a DNA targeting chemical weapon is stolen he teams up with MI6 and the CIA. With this weapon anyone in the world could be a target and friends and foes are both keeping secrets.

Let’s start with the opening sequence.

In Billie Eilish’s rendition of No Time To Die we hear a softer yet beautiful song full of emotion. This marks a change from the more powerful, almost orchestral-like, songs used in previous films.

The opening sequence was filled with imagery and metaphors. The theme of time and time running out was shown through the use of clocks and hourglasses. I particularly liked the image of the Britannica statue freezing and being reclaimed by nature – implying that all things eventually end. In a nod to the upcoming story, dual lines of guns fired bullets to create a DNA helix. Overall I thought this was one of the best and definitely one of the clearest opening sequences I’ve seen from a Bond film. There were lots of details and it was fun to see the hints to the upcoming film.

After Spectre relied heavily on the previous films for its plot to make sense, I was delighted that No Time To Die avoided this same issue and I feel the story would be fairly easy for new viewers to follow. For example early in the film Bond visits Vesper’s grave. While new viewers mightn’t know who she was they can deduce that this is someone Bond cared about and is regretful for her death. In another example, some viewers mightn’t know the history of the Spectre Organisation but for this film it is enough to simply know they are the villains of the story. That being said, viewers who have followed the story since Casino Royale are rewarded with the return of past characters and the occasional reference to the previous instalments.

In No Time To Die, Craig really got to show off his acting range as we saw many new sides to Bond. In addition to the regular cold focus when confronting enemy agents, we also saw Bond’s humour when challenging M’s decisions and interrupting Q’s dinner preparations. There was happiness in the early moments of the film followed by the pain of saying goodbye. In some of my favourite moments we also encountered Bond in a softer parental role when he was caring for Swann’s daughter.

No Time To Die boasts a big ensemble of supporting actors. Some of the new additions to the franchise include:

Remi Malik who is introduced late into the film as antagonist Lyutsifer Safin. As a villain Safin is developed to the point where the audience can understand his motivations (twisted as they are) and crucially Malik’s performance makes Safin feel like a genuine threat that Bond struggles to overcome.

Lashana Lynch’s Nomi is a new agent who takes on Bond’s 007 number during his retirement. While a strong and very competent agent, Nomi is still new to the role. In scenes with Bond it was interesting to watch the differences between the characters. As Bond relies on his experience and gut-reactions, we see Nomi’s thought-process as she tries to work out the best cause of action. Whatever the future holds for the 007 franchise, Nomi is a great character and I hope Lashana Lynch remains part of the series.

Finally we encounter Logan Ash, a CIA agent played by Billy Magnussen. Some of the funniest scenes in the film include Ash’s puppy-like excitement at meeting the legendary James Bond for the film time. Although he doesn’t get as much screen time as some of the others, Magnussen throws himself into every scene and is a fun addition to the film.

No Time To Die is a great conclusion to Craig’s tenure as James Bond. The film ties up the loose ends left by Spectre and builds on Bond’s relationship with his friends and colleagues. No Time To Die is also a good film and a good story in its own right. It’s thrilling and exciting and it comes with a strong plot with many enjoyable twists and turns on top of the usual excellent action sequences. It is a strong end to this era of 007.

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