No Time to Die (12a)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas & Rami Malek
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Running time: 2hrs 43min
More than any previous version of the character, Daniel Craig’s James Bond has reacted to the world around him.
From Casino Royale’s bruising opening which mirrored the fallible Jason Bourne, to Skyfall that borrowed very liberally from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight, Bond has been influenced by what has been happening by events in the cinematic universe.
So we arrive at the swansong of Daniel Craig’s run as the secret agent in a movie that appears to be trying to wrap the series up like a Marvel movie.
With previous villains and characters now seemingly interconnected all along, and clumsily trying to fit jigsaw pieces together that were never intended to match, it all feels more DC than Marvel.
Daniel Craig as James Bond. Pic credit: Nicola Dove/MGM
No Time to Die opens with a bang. A wonderful pre-credit sequence with one foot in Bond’s past and future leads gracefully into Billie Eilish’s soubrette theme song.
From there, the film stutters along with the handbrake on. A Knives Out reunion with Ana de Armas — with Craig channelling his inner Roger Moore for the duration of the scene — is jarring but still entertaining. Lashana Lynch is a cracking addition as a new 00 agent. She is every bit Bond’s equal and is more interested in getting his job than into his bed. If the rumours of Amazon wanting to develop spin-off shows. Lynch’s Nomi is the place to start. Unfortunately, she’s sold a little short here as her big hero moment is more Austin Powers than the worlds greatest secret agent.
Christoph Waltz returns as Blofeld to pointlessly monologue like The Architect from The Matrix Reloaded. This leads to the film’s biggest issue — the villain. Rami Malek appears to have based his performance on Rob Lowe in Thank You for Smoking. A bizarre wellness-centre-yoga-guru with all the menace of The Happy Pear twins. He’s aided by a Russian scientist whose direction seemed to be ‘act like Borat’. His bewildering half-nanobots half-Thanos plan is never clear enough to feel any real sense of threat.
Bond’s motivation to grow and find a life outside of gadgets, girls and guns hinges on non-existent chemistry with Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann. They never convince as a couple in the same way Bond found an equal in Eva Green’s Vesper. Two films in, and I struggle to recall one interesting moment between the two.
That said, the last 30mins are rip-roaring fun. Director Cary Fukunaga throws everything at the screen. Secret lairs, cool toys and a pulse-pounding race against the clock. It’s the best Bond has been since he chased Sébastien Foucan through a building site in Casino Royale.
Starting with the stunning Casino Royale and continuing with the troubled, but underappreciated Quantum of Solace, Craig’s tenure as 007 has been a fit of stops and starts. Indeed, the actor himself was regularly reportedly ready to hand in his gun and martini after each film.
Knowing this is his last dance with the character, he delivers a series-best performance. Here. he drops the secret agent swagger for a blended mix of vulnerable brutality.
Unfortunately, Bond has arrived at a place where it’s never been more interesting to see what happens next — just as the curtain is closing on his time in the tux.
4 out of 5
Words: Andy McCarroll @andymc1983
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