No Time To Die Review

At long… LONG last I’ve watched and now reviewed No Time To Die, finally able to say I have all official EON Bond films reviewed on this site. So after all the build up and delays, what was the film like? Well, it wasn’t much of a Bond film but did have some great set pieces and an ending that will be remembered for a long time, whether that be good or bad is up to you (also whether you like Metal Gear Solid enough to find a very specific re-used plot device distracting…) Let’s finally take a look!

Synopsis:

James Bond is enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend Felix Leiter shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on the trail of a mysterious villain who’s armed with a dangerous new technology…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Bond is so tough he can get away with wearing a pair of suspenders in 2021!

While a case could easily be made that this isn’t a good Bond film I will say it was a very fun action thriller with a very human central protagonist. Daniel Craig’s James Bond is happily in a relationship with the returning Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) but when a Spectre assault happens after he visits Vesper’s grave (did they really need to bring that up AGAIN?) he assumes Swann is still apart of the organisation to some degree, her father being recurring Spectre agent Mr. White, and so after a great chase sequence and shoot out he puts her on a train and breaks things off, once again assuming that all women will betray him. Fast forward a couple of years and Bond is living by himself in Jamaica but gets pulled back into service when his old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) arrives and gives him a tip off about a scientist being captured by Spectre. Just focusing on Bond for the moment we’ll skip over a bunch of the Spectre bits as he eventually re-encounters Madeleine and discovers she has a daughter, Bond’s daughter, and that she’s on the run from a psychopath named Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek)

This is where the back end of the film goes completely in its own direction as James Bond tries to smuggle his would-be-wife and daughter away from Safin’s men only to see them captured. During the final assault on Safin’s island base (hooray for the return of island bases!) Bond manages to rescue them but is infected with a special virus that would mean death for Madeleine and her daughter if Bond ever touched them again, so as missiles begin to reign down on the base Bond climbs up to the roof for a good view, tells Madeleine how much he loves her and how amazing their child is via the radio before meeting his end. It was very dramatic, well shot and very well acted by all involved, though like I said about as far removed from the more straight forward fun Bond films we’re used to, so I understand how some are so down on the whole “killing off Bond” thing. Even the credits still has the classic “James Bond Will Return” sting, showing that the Craig era is over but they will just plough forward with the next one regardless. It isn’t the end of the character, just the end of this interpretation of it.

Bond auditions for Spider-Man.

As for other highlights? Well, there are a few. When Bond goes after the scientist, Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik), at a Spectre ball he is assisted by CIA agent Paloma (Ana de Armas) and the whole preceding shoot out is played quite strongly for laughs, with some funny one liners, stops for drinks and Obruchev being an amusing bumbling fool type character. The new 007 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch) is also involved, trying to capture Obruchev for MI6 rather than the CIA and frankly its this large-scale shoot out where she gets to do pretty much anything in the film other than acting a little jealous of her predecessor. It’s a fun scene and sees every member of Spectre apart from the imprisoned Blofeld killed, so… that’s that lose end properly tied up! Bond manages to get Obruchev to Felix and his partner Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen) only to find out that Logan was working with Obruchev and later revealed to be under the employ of Safin, so Felix is shot and the boat destroyed as the two head off to the previously mentioned island base. Bond survives (obviously!) but Felix does not.

After a few heated words with his former boss M (Ralph Fiennes) Bond manages to get an audience with Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) interrogating him as to how he was controlling the Spectre party from afar and questioning who took a special type of virus Obruchev was working on. It’s here he finds out about Madeleine and heads off to meet her and discovers his daughter. Well, actually he met Madeleine before this and unwittingly contracted a virus that then killed his foster brother in his cell, so that really is ALL of Spectre gone now! That’s about all I can say was good and thankfully that’s most of the film! Given it’s nearly three hours long it managed to keep my interest the whole way. Also the opening theme / tittle sequence was good which is a relief after the awful Spectre one last time…

The Bad:

The facial disfigurement means he’s evil! Remember that, kids!

The biggest thing that stuck out to me was probably the key plot device: a special type of virus that’s actually nanomachines that can target specific DNA strands and therefore be programmed to kill only certain people / families / ethnicities. It’s literally FOXDIE from the Metal Gear Solid games! Now I’m not accusing the script writers of plagiarism or anything (hell the Metal Gear games are nothing but an endless stream of US movies and Bond film references anyway) but I couldn’t get that out of my head whenever it came up. Then during the climax Bond and Nomi infiltrate the island base by stealth using a thin black submarine-like vehicle and enter via an old port, then Bond is constantly in contact with his nerdy science buddy and old former boss whom he respects despite said boss keeping things from him all via an earpiece and a special injection into his bloodstream where they can keep track of his vitals, in other words Codec with Q and M replacing Otacon and Col. Campbell. This is something I never would’ve thought of if it hadn’t been for the whole FOXDIE thing. Hell on the way to opening up the base for the missiles Bond takes out a bunch of guards in a tight square staircase very reminiscent of a scene from Metal Gear Solid where Snake has to take out a bunch of guards while running up a square staircase… Fine, I’ll stop now.

Lyutsifer Safin is close to being a really good villain but everything just falls apart in the end. At first he was a killer who was coming after Mr. White because White and Spectre had killed his entire family but accidentally only left him scarred. We see in a flashback he killed White’s other-half but kept Madeleine alive as she was just a child and he couldn’t bring himself to let her drown. Now I don’t know what he’s been doing in a decades since but he is responsible for unleashing a programmed virus into the Spectre party and the virus that Madeleine and (accidentally) Bond introduces to Blofeld, so Safin is responsible for wiping out the entire Spectre organisation that once killed his family. This is why he later compares himself so favourably to Bond, who once took out a bunch of Spectre agents and arrested their leader out of revenge.

This was a great idea for a villain, a mirror to Bond who is off-kilter enough to then want Bond’s love interest and daughter as his own, feeling like his saving of her life meant she was his. Sadly though he did want Madeleine he also had a crazy plan of unleashing the programmable virus across the world and… I don’t know, causing havoc for the hell of it? Something about playing God? His plan didn’t really make any sense, the motivation for revenge wasn’t there so I have no idea why he was suddenly a classic cheesy supervillain, something that just doesn’t fit Daniel Craig’s era at all. In the end he shoots Bond and gives him the FOXDIE that would kill his family before being killed himself by the former 007, but by that point he was just surplus to requirements…

Bond meets the “architect of all his pain” one last time…

As I already mentioned Nomi, the new 007, actually doesn’t do much apart from squabble with Bond in the MI6 office, arrive too late to help Bond and then break into the base with Bond only for James to do 90% of the actual action. She does finally kill off Obruchev when he threatens to create a version of the virus that would kill off all black people, which you know, is fair enough, but still. After all the controversy about a black woman playing 007 the sexist and/or racists among the fanbase needn’t have worried as she certainly wasn’t Bond’s replacement!

Also in the end M says about being near the island in a plane has gained the UK the attention of various countries as that weren’t privy to the goings on the Island and with Russian jets and US ships scurrying about he still has no choice but to launch the missiles and wipe out the island despite all the potential backlash and… then nothing is ever mentioned about it again. M and co. have a drink to honour their fallen friend and get back to work. It was a bit of added tension for the hell of it with no actual consequence.

Overall Thoughts:

James Bond meets 007. That’s an odd sentence to type, and a fitting one to go out on…

No Time To Die was a fun thriller with an enjoyable arc for its lead character and an emotional ending but it has to be said that it was no Bond film. Whether that annoys you or not will decide how much you like the film. I had more issue with the use of the plotline extremely close to Metal Gear Solid but I understand that would put me in a minority among Bond film goers… Anyway, I would happily watch it again but not if I was in the mood to watch a Bond film as this film does not scratch that particular itch…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s