James Bond goes ‘Viral’. Did you REALLY think a little thing like Corona would stop him, or indeed, us? No!
We have seen a cut of No Time to Die. NB: Here be spoilers!! You have been warned, Mr Bond Fans..
No Time To Die is an absolute triumph! Fast, Funny, Clever, Tense, Substantial, Moving, Urgent, Relevant, Sexy, Romantic, Visually Stunning, Action packed, Nostalgic yet Forward Looking. One of the Best Bonds Ever. You will laugh, cry and cling to the edge of your seat. A MUST SEE!!
Plot: It’s GREAT! Without giving EVERYTHING away..
James Bond (Daniel Craig, in his penultimate outing) and Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) are on HONEYMOON. Yep, they did it. Tied the knot. And all seems happily ever after..via montage..
But, behind closed doors at both CIA and Mi6 HQ not all is well.. Bond’s seeming nemesis, Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) is being interrogated from his cushy secured cell about the existence of a virus that could, unchecked, wipe out every human on earth.
It transpires that Blofeld was in fact a kind of counsel for hire to the underworld, rather than a true mastermind Boss. He had indeed offered his services to many a villain that had dealings with 007, but was not quite the architect of the SPECTRE organisation he had bigged up. Kinda like Koskov in The Living Daylights. His ‘plans’ of old were simply a spin off devised by ‘another Blofeld’. He warns of the far more deadly looming threat of the virus and its creator, Safin (Rami Malek).
Meantime, Bond and Madeleine are enjoying married life. But something is wrong. She is having sudden mood swings. All ‘I love you, James’ one minute. Then the next? ‘You repel me! You want everyone to love you and they DO! Even Blofeld was obsessed. They think you’re so funny, so handsome, so clever, they want your babies..’.
Things culminate in a Hotel suite. The girl as good as attacks him. Bond, at that point, shrugs, says ‘bitter suite’ and holds her, tightly. They both know, that much as they love each other, marriage isn’t for everyone. ‘How about a drive’?
And on that drive..an battle of epic proportion ensues as 007 is ambushed on the road by an army of enemy cars and gunfire. He manages to save Madeleine but at great cost. The trust is gone: was she the author of the attack? As he lets her go after a frantic rush to a train platform, they know it’s the end..or IS it…
5 years later: The deadly virus Blofeld was lecturing on has not spread: Miraculously contained, instead, by SAFIN PHARMA INDUSTRIES. But the CIA are onto Safin, having deployed Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) to investigate a secret lab near Jamaica. That just happens to be home to..a retired James Bond.
Bond and Leiter team up and spy on Safin’s secret lab: whose plans are far more destructive and deadly than mere virus production / profit. He has mastered a DNA code that, in the wrong hands..could not simply destroy humanity but rewrite its very appearance, constitution, purpose. The race is on and he MUST be stopped. Bond and team are ambushed and Safin escapes.
And so: Mi6 and CIA join forces and Bond returns to action, via London. It is down to 007 to locate Safin, neutralise the evil plans and save the day, for all..
CHARACTER / ACTING:
This is Daniel Craig’s most assured performance in the role and certainly his best since Casino Royale. He has aged up a bit but they do not dwell on that. He is vulnerable, emotionally yet never weak. Forget all your fears about Bond going ‘woke’. And yes, he is doing a sixth, as the movie ends on a kind of cliffhanger. Rami is a splendid villain: think Robert Davi /Benicio Del Toro in Licence to Kill via Javier Bardem in Skyfall but still very much his own man, despite a nod to one specific name in the canon of older Bond baddies.
Christoph Waltz gets a more studied, menacing and pertinent role here than in the previous film, both redeeming and developing /explaining that, via a rushed ret-con that kinda works. Ralph Fiennes gets more to play with here than before as M, though Q is overused and MoneyPenny, underused, sadly.
This is Lea Seydoux’s film: she shines, steals the show and shows star power.
ACTION / STYLE:
Car fans will LOVE this. You get at least 3 Aston Martins and some credible though fun gadgets. There is a chase through Jamaican fields that is tense from start to finish and a mini movie in itself. London is shot beautifully too though they sensibly avoid overusing it this time round. Snow, sea and sand-scapes all feature: this is a truly globe trotting adventure. Hans Zimmer’s score really helps matters; injecting the right notes of passion, energy, atmosphere and romantic longing and just WAIT til you hear HIS take on THAT Bond theme (yes, and THAT one, too!). It’s great to see Craig in the action, front and centre, especially in stealth / military gear a la classic Commander Bond.
This film is LONG. You will not feel that, necessarily. Because it moves apace within its individual scenes. But there is quite a bit of filler, too and that really could /should have been cut away. This is funny in places, but the humour, though good, is also kind of over-cook of a script one can see was almost TOO lovingly pondered /redrafted / retooled. There is enough tight action, suspense and great acting here to sustain things and it’s a shame we get more rather than less than bargained for.
The references to a viral threat might be too close to home for some. But this movie was written before Corona struck. And we like Bond to slay the imaginary threat that is based in reality..the dragon of the day, taken down by St George so..yep.
We are still trying too hard, too, to tie all of the Craig era movies together. It’s ok to have a self contained mission and fine for 007 to just save the world, you know? But maybe next time..
A truly accomplished film from first time Bond director, Cary Joji Fukunaga. He has pulled off the impossible, against the odds. A BOND FILM FOR EVERYONE! Each layer of fandom (yes, you, mi6-hq.com..you lot..yawn..if of course you are not busy advising the UN /writing open letters etc) WILL be satisfied! You get the realistic urgency of a straight up thriller whilst embracing all the sheer glamorous fantasy and hokum of the classic Bond. This is what the likes of Die Another Day and Licence to Kill and SPECTRE tried so hard to do but just missed: the credible world threat, graduating to a more fantastical set of stakes, via organic movements in tone and action.
Visually stunning. Atmospheric from start to finish. Rousing. Romantic. Rollicking fun. UNMISSABLE! Well done, Ms Broccoli. You have done it again. GRADE A 007.
JAMES MURPHY WILL RETURN
NB: this is fake news. No Time to Die is released in NOVEMBER. Once the markets are clearer. But it will be excellent anyway so I can probably recycle this review then. Maybe EON could give us a mini movie online,meantime, just to kill the pangs? Also: just watch all other previous 007 films, you despairing fans! And enjoy Daniel Craig on SNL: having even more fun than he does in an actual Bond film..;)