Review: No Time to Die (2021)

*Spoiler Warning*

No Time To Die is a thrilling piece of action cinema, with all the spectacle and panache you might expect from a Bond film. More importantly, it’s a tribute to Daniel Craig, as he throws in the towel after fifteen years.

The film picks up where Spectre (2015) left off all those years ago. Bond is holed up on an island somewhere, enjoying his retirement, while MI6 crumbles without him. A bioweapon, engineered under M’s authority, falls into the wrong hands; Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) threatens mass destruction. In the end, Bond sacrifices everything to prevent another global catastrophe.

Gif Source: Giphy // James Bond 007

No Time To Die comes with all the bells and whistles: gripping action sequences, a star-studded cast, and a chilling soundtrack featuring Billie Eilish. There’s something for everyone in this latest instalment. However, it is important to recognize this film for what it truly is: a tribute to Daniel Craig’s James Bond. Director Cary Fukunaga pulls together strands from previous films and ties them neatly off at the end. In a particularly poignant scene, Bond visits the burial place of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), who famously betrayed him in Casino Royale (2006). He forgives her and the past is finally laid to rest. The film is preoccupied with resolving such conflicts. It recycles plotlines from previous movies, providing closure for both the character and the actor. However, in doing so, it loses its impact as a standalone movie.

Fukunaga achieves a personality shift that has been pending for the last fifteen years. In No Time To Die, Bond moves from ruthless assassin to sensitive family man. He abandons his old playboy ways, commits himself to Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and develops protective paternal instincts. It’s interesting to see how the character has evolved under Craig’s guidance. However, Bond’s personal development dominates the film and suffocates the plot. Safin is a convincing villain, but his vision and thirst for mass destruction take a backseat in No Time To Die.

The film focuses on completing character arcs, rather than exploring them further. American ally, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), and criminal mastermind, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), are both killed off, while Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) gets her resolution in the form of a child. The director seems keen to tidy up this web of storylines in a way that does not entirely fit with the plot.

That being said, I was happy to welcome these characters back onto the big screen. The fact that Swann returns for a second film is hugely refreshing. It challenges the Bond Girl archetype, and proves that women are more than disposable, two-dimensional characters. Swann is given some real depth in this film. We delve into her backstory, and her childhood trauma remains central to the narrative.

For all my grievances, No Time To Die ticks a lot of boxes. It’s exciting, engaging, and incredibly moving. However, it feels more like a reflection on Daniel Craig’s previous work than a movie in its own right.

– Olivia Pearce

Featured Image Source: Still via Youtube // NO TIME TO DIE | Final US Trailer / James Bond 007

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