Thursday 2 December 2021

Disclaimer: This review may contain spoilers for No Time to Die

Following the resolution of Spectre, we see James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Dr. Madeleine Swan (Léa Seydoux) basking in the sunshine as the pair try to live peaceful lives. 

However, before we get to that idyllic scene, we (finally!) get a glimpse into the memories of the ever-mysterious Madeleine, detailing her connection to Rami Malek’s antagonist Lyutsifer Safin. As the flashback progresses, we discover that Madeleine was spared by the madman himself, making for the perfect set-up for the plot of No Time to Die

Of course, things don’t stay calm for long. We are cannonballed into action at what was supposed to be one of the most heartfelt scenes of the film: Bond’s visit to Vesper Lynd’s tomb. Predictable? Definitely. But it adds so much drama to this action-packed film. 

This writer is not one to enjoy the speedy car chases, the gun shooting scenes, nor the booms and bangs from the bombs that reverberate through the theatre. However, the screenwriters snuck in bits of dialogue that add intrigue into the plot mid-action, so it wasn’t all just for the sake of a spectacle. 

From the trailer, it was revealed that the good doctor has been withholding secrets from our favourite spy, and at this juncture, the two part ways, seemingly for good.

Cue the title sequence—which was stunningly executed, by the way—with Billie Eilish’s hauntingly ethereal voice singing this Bond theme song. Despite the film’s postponement, this moody anthem has gone on to win a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media earlier this year, beating Cats’s “Beautiful Ghosts”, and Frozen II’s “Into the Unknown”. At 18 years old, Eilish happens to be the youngest to ever record the franchise’s theme song. 

Then we get into the meat of the 163-minute-long film, which takes place five years after the pair separated. It’s the audience’s first introduction to Heracles, the lethal bioweapon that can be programmed to attack so precisely, it’s practically harmless to those unrelated to the target. As far as methods of attack are concerned, this has got to be in the all-time top 10. 

Lashana Lynch makes her hotly anticipated debut as the first female 00. The incongruence between the “old” and the new 007 is simply magnetic. Not only do we get to see the first Black female 007, but she’s also fiercely drawing a line in the sand from the get-go, instead of stumbling and mumbling her way through when meeting her esteemed predecessor. 

In order to retrieve a kidnapped Russian scientist Obruchev and rid the world of the bioweapon, Bond jets over to Cuba to infiltrate a Spectre meeting. There, he meets Paloma (Ana de Armas), and the two—quite literally—kick ass. 

Now, was her almost unassuming character actually pivotal to the story? No. But Paloma added a certain lightness that rounds off the film nicely, thanks to her insouciant ingenue.

Obruchev the scientist slips away, and now a little homecoming is in order. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) help Bond to get a meeting with Blofeld in prison in order to track down Obruchev. 

Here, the star-crossed lovers meet. To reveal more, would reveal far too much for those of you who have yet to watch the film.

Daniel Craig has said in interviews that he was grateful that the producers let him finish his role as Bond “on his own terms.” Which makes you speculate as to whether the ending is what Craig was referring to. But it was certainly a dramatic exit from the franchise for the actor. Now that there’s a Daniel Craig-shaped hole left in the franchise, fans are speculating on who’s taking on the James Bond mantle. This writer shall just wait and see. For Craig’s fanatics, you still have Knives Out 2 and Knives Out 3 to anticipate. 

No Time to Die will be a difficult watch for those traumatised by the pandemic. Heracles is almost akin to the COVID-19 virus; you are to keep your distance from those susceptible to it, and those who suffer death from the bioweapon, will do so badly. Except there’s no sanitising this nano-beast off. 

But is it worth the watch? Absolutely. Safin is an interesting adversary for James Bond—almost elegant in his way of retaliation. Which makes the running time go by quite quickly.