No Time To Die (2021) - 7/10
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
I’ll admit right away, I’m not a Bond fan. I grew up in the era when Bond films were considered throwaway tat. They were, and still largely are. I know the Daniel Craig era has brought some grit to the character and that’s a good thing, but it’s still tat. Switch your brain off action. End of. That doesn’t mean it’s not watchable. At nearly 3 hours, No Time to Die is pushing it though. The premise is simple. Obviously. Bond has retired but gets dragged back into the action by his mate Felix (Jeffrey Wright). Honestly this is a bloody relief. Retired Bond is even more of a dick than punchy shooty Bond. Swanning around the idyllic Med in his vintage Aston Martin with a cheap symphonic version of Louis Armstrong in the background. Felix doesn’t have to try hard. Bond’s already been blown up, jumped off a bridge and crashed a stolen motorcycle through a funeral parade, all in the pre title sequence. It’s not going to ask much of the audience mentally. Let’s face it though. Why are you watching Bond if you’re not after car chases and heavily choreographed fight sequences in breathtakingly beautiful locations. So I’ll hang up my cinephile snobbery and admit it’s fun. The plot is awful, but it looks fantastic. Rami Malek makes an adequate villain. Christopher Waltz although under used, makes a better one. Ralph Fiennes carries the stuffy bureaucracy well and Ben Whishaw remains an utter delight as Q. In short, it’s well cast. The bad dudes are after a bioweapon ‘Heracles’. The authorities have all got themselves in a pickle, trying to heap some intellectual jeopardy into the action, but it doesn’t work. Bond finding out his 007 moniker has been taken by a young black woman called Nomi (Lashana Lynch), is a momentary step in the right direction, as is giving all the female roles more substance (mostly)… even Moneypenny. But this is still all about the set pieces and as great as they look, they’re a given considering the budgets thrown at the franchise. I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s well reported that there’s a changing of the guard imminent with Craig having had enough. I’ll admit the finale that plays out here is a brave call. Much will be made of what comes next. Whatever it is, please let it really rattle this bloated world to its core. Gadgets, pithy dialogue, all fine, but this is desperate for a real bomb to shake things up properly.