No Time to Die

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Daniel Craig in James Bond.
Daniel Craig in James Bond.
Photo: Nicola Dove/DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM

MOVIE:

No Time to Die

WHERE TO WATCH:

Now showing in cinemas

OUR RATING:

4/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

Recruited to rescue a kidnapped scientist, globe-trotting spy James Bond finds himself hot on the trail of a mysterious villain, who's armed with a dangerous new technology.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

It's been quite a journey for this James Bond, which would have ended more than a year ago if not for the pandemic. From the emotional trauma of losing his first love to the critically acclaimed Skyfall that features the death of Judi Dench's M, to the sinister revelations of Spectre - it would be hard to disagree that Daniel Craig's run as the suave secret agent was the best yet in terms of writing and acting prowess of its various castmembers (barring a few less shiny turns in-between).

Now, finally, we conclude Craig's arc with No Time to Die, one of the few big-hitters that might actually draw the crowds back to the cinema with no streaming release. One of this Bond's defining features compared to previous renditions has been its more serious and dramatic tones, far removed from the gimmicky action of its predecessors. However, this finale harbours more of the fun and wit of its earlier compatriots, giving the audience far more laughs than ever before. Coming off the back of the world-shattering reveals in Spectre (which you really should rewatch for plot continuance if you haven't seen it in a while), it gives way to more emotional twists and ridiculously entertaining action.

And there are some hectic twists and turns - as far as the plot's concerned, we see Bond tempted back into the field by his CIA friend and is pulled yet again into a scheme to save the world from a mad man played by Rami Malek. That's about as much as I can say about that as the spoilers are on Endgame levels, and the internet will be a minefield for any diehard Bond fans for the next few weeks.

I can say that while this is a more entertaining and fun jaunt with Craig's 007, thanks to the contributions of Phoebe Waller-Bridge on the writing team, it's not on par with its predecessors with a pretty bland villain and unimaginative world-ending plot device that everyone's seen before. There was nothing really wrong with Malek's performance per se, but rather the character's origins and motivations had no real gravitas when compared with previous Bond villains - and we all know the villain is as important as our hero in this franchise. Others might feel different because it's the last ride with everyone's favourite blonde, blue-eyed boy, but it's clearly more about the personal journey for Bond and saving the world is just a convenient detour.

As for the Bond women, they were all pretty awesome, from the returns of Spectre love interest Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) to the hardened replacement agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch), bringing the banter with Bond to the short yet memorable performance of the sweet yet deadly Paloma (Ana de Armas). I've always enjoyed how Craig shared the spotlight with his costars in his Bond films, and many can agree we've come a long way with how women are portrayed in this historically sexist franchise. Thankfully, it ends on a high note in this regard.

As for the man himself, it's no secret that Craig has been over the Bond title for a while, yet like a true professional, he doesn't let his personal feelings interfere with his performance in the role. Debonair and stoic as always, but this time with a touch of vulnerability last seen in Casino Royale, he proves yet again why he will always be one of the best Bonds we've ever had, and whoever fills his shoes in the next revival will have to come with a wholly different brand of gentleman spy.

No Time to Die might not have been perfect, but it still delivers a satisfying end to a Bond era that will be fondly remembered by many. It's enough to tide us over until the next Bond is reincarnated, but it will need a serious revamp to win fans over again, while staying true to its original spirit yet propelling the outdated elements into the present. Throughout Spectre and No Time to Die, Bond is constantly portrayed as a relic of the past as the modern world seemingly doesn't need him anymore. So what will a Bond of the future be? And will we really still need - or want - him?

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