Julien Neaves, Editor
Ever wait so long for something and then you finally get it but it wasn’t what you hoped for? Well that was my experience with the latest James Bond flick No Time to Die, which was finally released after numerous delays.
And I was hoping for a great final entry to the Craig era. Maybe it could reflect the excellence of Casino Royale? Or even the very good Skyfall. Surely it couldn’t be as bad as the dreary Quantum of Solace. Thankfully it’s not that bad, but sadly it is another mid-tier effort like Spectre. With a gun-barrel shaped SPOILER ALERT let’s break it down in four shots:
Shot #1 You Know My Name
As the 25th official film in the franchise NTTD had many callbacks, and this was one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film. 007 was back in Jamaica like his first movie adventure, Dr No, and listening to some ole school dancehall no less. The gadget-filled Aston Martin was definitely a welcome nod to old school Bond and the opening action scene put a huge smile on my face. We also have a narrative callback with Bond visiting Vesper’s grave. You would think he had moved on from her after all this time but apparently not. And the big bad’s lair gave me some Dr No flashbacks.
The film also had Bond meeting up with his old ally Felix Leiter. I thought Leiter’s death scene was done very well and made me feel the requisite feels thanks to a great performance from the always dependable Jeffrey Wright. M, Moneypenny and Q are all back but none of them did anything of significance. In terms of new allies I thought Lashana Lynch was fantastic as new 007 Nomi, and Ana de Armas’ Paloma was so much fun but sadly she didn’t get much screentime. We’ll chat more about Bond’s love interest Dr Madeleine Swann in a bit.
Shot #2 You Got to D-d-die
I was really let down by the villains here. The “Cyclops” henchman was okay as a throwback baddie. And turncoat agent Logan Ash was not interesting but at least Bond savagely killing him was a cool callback to For Your Eyes Only. But that’s about it.
Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz is again wasted as Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his abrupt death felt like a hamfisted way to make the film’s big bad, Rami Malek’s Lyutsifer Safin, seem more menacing. And yeah Malek just didn’t work for me. His creepy, soft spoken manner and obsessive ways seemed more serial killer than supervillain. He was most impactful in the opening scene and after that he just falls flat. And in real life Malek is only four years older than Leá Seydoux but we are supposed to believe he encountered her as a child? Puh-lease.
Shot #3 I Never Shoot to Miss
One thing I can’t fault NTTD for is the action. There was definitely a lot as Bond fully exercised his licence to kill. I mentioned the awesome Aston Martin scene already but we also got some thrilling car chases, visceral hand to hand combat, and a tonne of gunplay, especially in the final act. The Cuba scene was also a blast, with Bond, Nomi and Paloma all having some cool scenes. Good stuff.
Shot #4 This is the End
My two main issues with the film is the love story and the ending. Now we have seen Bond fall in love before. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service he fell for and married Tracy, though a rain of bullets ended their marriage prematurely. And he fell for Vesper in Casino Royale but their love affair ended in betrayal and suicide. But I just didn’t buy Madeleine Swann as his “one true love” and the whole secret child storyline felt downright hackneyed.
And I know Craig once threatened to cut his wrists before making another Bond movie but did they have to kill the character off? Safin already made sure he would never be able to touch Madeleine or his daughter again. Is that not punishment enough? No. You had to have the overblown sacrifice. I come to Bond for escapism, not this weak sauce drama. Fail.
In conclusion, there are a few things I enjoyed in NTTD but overall execution was middling at best and messed up the tried and true Bond formula. And oh my goodness, why is this movie so LONG? This movie did not need to be this long. No Time to Die? More like No Time to End.
Editor Jules’s Score: 6 out of 10
So how would you rate NTTD? And you can check out more great content that will leave you shaken (but not stirred) below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.