DO NOT CLICK ON THIS PIECE IF YOU WISH TO AVOID SPOILERS!
AND THESE ARE REAL SPOILERS. Not my usual ‘Bond goes gay’; ‘Bond fights a giant alien on the moon’, ‘Bond wakes up and is in fact an elderly man and the whole Craig era happened in the 1960s and he is nursed by a girl called ‘Vesper’, played by Eva Green as he smiles at the sunset’..etc.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. TWICE. WITH FEKKIN’ BELLS ATTACHED!
But even if you do scroll in error, I will remain as implicit as possible. Because I am nice and respectful like that.
So here, at random, are some points I could not quite fit into my initial review. In no specific order..here..we..GO!
- To be clear. I did not hate NO TIME TO DIE. I just did not ‘love’ it. That’s allowed.
- I have every respect for Barbara Broccoli as Producer, Daniel Craig as leading actor of record and many of the choices made for this movie.
- The action, visuals and atmospherics are outstanding.
- BEST. OPENING. EVER. Maybe.
- I buy into Bond’s character development and his life.
- Lea Seydoux is adorable. She’s a ‘joooolia'(in joke; sorry, short-hand for creative/beautiful/exotic/life changing woman: forgive the indulgent moment but if bond can have a whole movie of said then I can enjoy one line of same ;)).
- Ana De Armas is a star. No question. Steals whole movie from Bond in one scene.
- The plot actually IS very good in its design WHEN you digest it. IE: yes there is a generic macguffin. But its thematic impact is sewn throughout the movie and it still exists as a self contained mission premise.
- Indeed, one was reminded, albeit retrospectively, of the logic in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. Russian victim defector turns out to be big bad evil. Small stakes crime escalating toward global impact via THUNDERBALL level weapon theft. Film arguably could have started with Bond smuggling the snitch scientist out of Russia and back to London? And maybe make said Russian pawn..Blofeld? Just a thought.
- Contrary to popular belief, there is no ‘woke’ agenda at work in the movie. It’s just a more measured and mature reflective film than one is perhaps used to. Which in its way is no bad thing and even helps one to grow up from / out of any notions of living vicariously through 007, once and for all?
So, much to be positive about. And I was very positive about that. My beefs, so to speak (and here we get truly spoiler-y)…
- SURELY, in the TWO YEAR post pandemic slump, the creatives could have sat down and thought ‘look, let’s fix this tone and ending..because the world needs some joy. Go dark ending next time. Dan: do one more in these uncertain times?‘ They didn’t. Which is inexplicably odd, frankly.
- I have said that third way, tonally balanced, Bond films can work. IF you define their purpose from the firstframe. GOLDENEYE and TOMORROW NEVER DIES are in that mould. Dark stuff happens, sure.
- But the whole point of these films is to confront and conquer those ills with a smirk. And yes, even Dalton did that, it’s not just Brosnan. Had Lazenby won a second stab at the role, he too would have got revenge on the bad guys and thereby activated a run of fun missions. Here? One has no comeback. No promise of a guaranteed ENDGAME or Return of the Jedi for Bond in two years.
- IE: if you try and weld a bunch of tones together, without clear definition to bind the whole? Then it all falls apart. Especially if you end on an unearned downer. And that is what happens with NO TIME TO DIE.
- Kill 007 by all means. Would Fleming have done so? Maybe. He wanted to, same way Agatha Christie killed Poirot and Dexter with Morse.
- But Ian also talked of making 007 a necrophiliac and subjecting him to countless trials never realised. So I suspect that the pipe and slippers ending from the Man with the Golden Gun novel is where Bond ‘ends’, itself as post script to a KIND of ‘death’ in the preceding novel (You Only Live Twice).
- IE: Anyone claiming that NO TIME TO DIE and its ending are some nod to Fleming? Sorry but you are just wrong.
- Bond’s death has zero utility. Either kill him with total pathos (he saves the world BY dying) or bathos (run over by a bus; heart attack /cancer; shot at random post mission; suicide..). But once again when you fuse both? You get fission of an awkward nature.
- Bond has saved the world ALREADY when he dies here. And the laboured, self indulgent, weakened surrender to his fate simply is not the essence of the character.
- This is NOT the man who gambled at CASINO ROYALE. That guy would have maybe died, sure and accepted that. It would have felt more ‘real’ there, too, given that the villains in Craig’s first two turns were credibly corporate menaces rather than the soap opera sci fi we get here.
- It’s all eerily reminiscent of the Han Solo death in THE FORCE AWAKENS: a move that simply lost its currency, impact and relevance in anything other than metatextual manner to the actor concerned.
- (nb: Craig is a mate of Harrison Ford and Rian Johnson /JJ Abrams..did they influence him here??).
- And even if Bond had to die here? He should do so swimming /drowning/anything to get off that damn island.
- In any event? Helping Bond do just that should have been priority #1 for the British Navy, Madeleine and everyone else in his last few moments.
- Save him. Remove bullets. Stick him in quarantine until Q can synthesise antidote. Bond will return or maybe tease a ‘WILL JAMES BOND RETURN?’..Etc.
- So this ‘death’ of Bond is wasted. A missed opp, much like the Craig era in its entirety.
- Yes, he was always great in the role and the producers did their best to honour Fleming without copying or remaking old titles.
- But they all deserved more movies as a creative team, made faster and to match Craig’s style whilst differentiating the ‘fun’ entries from the ‘darker’ ones rather than cramming it altogether in one mess. Granted, that was not always in their power (studio politics, strikes, economics, trends etc) but even so..my point stands.
- I get that you all adore ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE. I do, too. But it is just one Bond film! You cannot make EVERY film have THAT impact, (same way every DOCTOR WHO ep cannot mimic Genesis of the Daleks/Curse of Fenric /Earthshock/Doomsday).
- And if you must nick an old Bond film’s score? Do it with bold brass and full rendition of the OHMSS theme, rather than riffing on We Have all the Time in the World.
- Hans Zimmer does a fine job on the music here. But even he is a BIT off his best imho. The death of Bond should have initiated full on CRIMSON TIDE/PEACEMAKER/KING ARTHUR level patriotic verve fused to the Bond theme as credits rolled, perhaps mixed to a montage of scenes from the Craig era / union jack led funeral call-back to SKYFALL? Then I would have left the cinema with a stride rather than a slump. But that’s on tone and direction rather than Hans Zimmer’s music choices.
- I have no idea what it was that Phoebe Waller Bridge brought to this. Each to their own. But I think she is desperately overpraised, overused and overpaid. Sorry! Glad you all love her.
- Felix Leiter btw at this stage of his career is not out in the field if we are indeed being ‘realistic’, right? He’s at Langley, running ops and would have sussed any traitor immediately. So, much like Bond, Blofeld et al? His death has zero utility.
- Mi6 scenes are somehow claustrophobic, rushed, nasty, wasted. Naomie Harris’ MoneyPenny could and should have been merged with the Lashana Lynch Nomi, perhaps? The Bond/M dynamic is just bilious and charm free.
- James Bond would not be talking about or mourning Vesper at this stage. Especially IF he is genuinely in love with a new woman.
- SAFIN: Why is he eternally young? What is in the tanks at his evil base (Snoke clones?). What is his actual plan again and why?
- WHY DID DANNY BOYLE LEAVE THIS FILM?? I have a sneaking feeling that he would have made things..’tidier’. 😉
- Film credits assure us ‘JAMES BOND WILL RETURN‘. How? Where? When? Even in a rebooted continuity we now know this character can die and does so, definitively. So there is a helluva mountain to climb there, creatively. And needlessly, too.
So there you have it. NO TIME TO DIE. My very last words on the subject. And possibly, on James Bond. Genuinely recommend people see it and hope it scores big box office records. x