NO TIME TO DIE
THREE AND A HALF STARS James Bond bounces back to save the world, and perhaps himself, from Spectre's evil mission. DRAMA THRILLER UK #BOND25
Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux
The 25th Bond film finally arrives having endured 18 months in a release-date holding pattern, a change of directors, last minute rewrites plus the very public ‘let this be over’ relationship with its leading man. pleasingly, NO TIME TO DIE lands as a fitting farewell for Daniel Craig, the man who did the most to pump some blood into 007’s icy heart. Clocking in at a little over two and a half hours, it’s just as well.
Picking up where SPECTRE left off, James and girlfriend Madeline (Lea Seydoux) are enjoying a relaxing holiday in southern Italy until they’re not. Arch-villain Blofeld has explosive plans for the couple and before you can say ‘let’s ride a motorbike up the side of a canyon wall and over a medieval village while being pursued by a henchman with a bionic eye’, Bond feels betrayed and the marriage is off. 007 retires, cue opening credits.
The story continues some years later when a now retired Bond is pressed into helping Felix Leiter’s CIA take down yet another Spectre plot. To reveal anything more would be to line up the spoilers which distributer Universal have kindly asked I keep to myself; #notimeforspoilers. All I will say is that NO TIME TO DIE has more turns than a Norma Desmond epic as it snakes its way to a stirring, shaking and utterly spectacular finale in an artfully designed if toxic, island lair.
How much remains of Danny Boyle’s original vision is not clear, but helmer Cary Joji Fukunaga (the first American to direct Bond) keeps everything pumping along - action, seduction, death, grief, humour, pathos - while still finding time to apply flesh to some characters. We meet Q’s cat, and Madelaine’s daughter. Awkward. The story leans heavily on how Craig has developed Bond’s no-nonsense character yet there’s a sense, slight perhaps but it is there, that amid the carnage and shredded emotion James might finally be enjoying himself. The ice is melting.
In one sense, NO TIME TO DIE is one of Craig’s least enjoyable Bonds simply because of the endless pain and loss thrown at 007 throughout the story. It’s also one of the most enjoyable for the glorious ways that have been dreamed up to help him rise above it all. Yet for all the grit, spectacle, fun and on-point camera work (note the moment when Bond raises his gun in a circular tunnel - fantastic), there’s no escaping some tenuous plotting, the reduction of support characters and Remi Malik’s woefully underwritten arch villain who’s on a vengeance mission to depopulate the world. So 1979.
In the end, NO TIME TO DIE lacks the precision that made SKYFALL such a standout. At the same time it blends enough of the old and the new to create something that, while not truly distinctive, will please fans both old and new. And that’s before you get to the mind-blowing finale.