October 28, 2021

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No Time To Die Review

No Time To Die Review – a good ending for Craig

Here is the script for my YouTube review of No Time To Die, enjoy!

Introduction

A few days ago, I finally saw No Time To Die, the 25th James Bond movie and the last starring Daniel Craig. It is directed by Cary Fukunaga who previously directed episodes of True Detective and the adaptation of Jane Eyre. No Time to Die was originally slated for a 2019 release before production delays and then the Covid pandemic accumulated to a two-year delay. However, the final Daniel Craig movie has finally arrived. My opinion is divided, remembering how I soured on SPECTRE. I think No Time To Die is brilliant, a sterling final repose for Craig. But I do have problems with it. While I understand there was a lot of ground to cover the running time is just too long, and it feels too long. There are moments when the story lingers too much, especially near the final act. I had a similar feeling with Blade Runner 2049 so it is not like this is a terrible situation. No doubt fans will remain divided about the ending, I won’t mention what happens, that part you should find out for yourselves at the cinema.

That is one caveat out of the way, but I have another. I have seen No Time To Die once and sadly it was very restless at the cinema, with children continuously talking or using their mobile phones. A number of people were also obviously inebriated and were out to irritate other viewers. I nearly left during the interval and some viewers did. You should take this into account while watching his review, it made it difficult for me to concentrate on the movie. Something I hope remedy coming weekend when I will be watching it again on IMAX.

The Story of No Time To Die

The plot for No Time To Die is not easy to understand. With a running time of 163 minutes there is a lot of ground to cover, but I will only provide the basics.

No Time To Die does many new things for the franchise, but it starts in a very expected way. James, semi-retired, is traveling with Madeleine in southern Italy, in the town of Matera to be exact. It also happens to be the place where Vesper is buried. Dragging up the SPECTRE of James’s first love-interest does feel overdone. I personally thought that with Quantum of Solace the painful memory was settled for James. However, the story does not linger. James is nearly blown up at her grave and SPECTRE henchmen chase him through Matera, scenes that feature prominently in the trailers.

James confronts Madeleine, while she denies it, he suspects her of selling him out to SPECTRE. I was incredulous when I saw this scene play out. Nothing about her demeanor seems to suggest she had betrayed him, yet James appears conflicted. After ensuring she is safe, he drops her off at the train station – effectively ending their relationship.

Then the story jumps ahead 5 years, to the present. SPECTRE operatives steal a bio-weapon from MI-6. James, who is now officially retired in Jamaica is recruited by Felix Leiter to steal it back, which puts James in confrontation with Mallory. This is in a nutshell the first act of the movie, and it may well be my favorite part of No Time To Die.

While we do not see the new villain Lyutsifer Safin enter the story until half-way through the movie his shadow does loom large since his introduction in the pre-title scene. I enjoyed the various action scenes, especially the ones with Ana de Armas playing CIA agent Paloma, but even here there were problems. The action scenes were followed by long sequences of the movie that centered on moving the plot forwards and provide character development. While that worked it did conflict with the pacing. Some of the action also seem trivial or had trivial moments. James teaming up with Paloma to rescue a scientist from Spectre meant she was only in the movie for a short period, I believe Ana De Armas’s character could have been swapped out for Lashana Lynch’s Nomi – who is basically the new 007. A few of the gags such as both of them drinking a few shots between the flying bullets felt tonally wrong.

Such criticism of No Time To Die makes me feel conflicted. It is a good movie, but it could have been better with more editing even after the movie suffered such a long delay to it release.

Obviously, Madeleine does reenter James’s live halfway through the movie, thus much anyone can infer from the trailer. While the love affair is done well it takes too long to fully develop using up much valuable time that was also spent on James’s investigation into Spectre and its new leader Safin. The movie’s screen time is already bloated by the long action scenes.

No Time To Die Review

The Characters

Yet, I should not just focus on the downsides, I think cinema goers have become familiar with movies that last too long. In the middle act of the movie, while James is in London I believe the ancillary characters do shine. Ralph Fiennes is brilliant as M, complete with burnout and latent alcoholism.  At first his relationship with James is antagonistic, but they quickly put their differences aside. It is a scene that plays out in front of the Hammersmith Bridge, which is an obvious homage to the 1950s movie The Man Who Never Was which depicts a Second World War plot involving a dead body in which Ian Fleming had a small role. A movie that coming January will see a remake entitled Operation Mincemeat.

I also enjoyed Ben Whishaw portrayal as Q. The actor has a lot more screen time than he did before. While the portrayal is broadly similar Q is a lot more active even going so far as to actively help James and Nomi during final infiltration of the villain’s lair. Q is also revealed to be gay, this is done in an understated way when he puts James and Moneypenny on notice regarding the imminent arrival of his dinner date.

Naomi Harris’s role as Moneypenny is shorter than in either Skyfall or Spectre, but still memorable. One portrayal that was underwhelming was that of Lashana Lynch as Nomi, James’s replacement as 007 and the first female 00 agent. She simply did not have that much to do. We certainly saw her throughout the movie, but came over as just another ancillary character instead sidekick, or James being her sidekick, which is what I expected. Here No Time To Die falls short of expectations. We do see her enter fight her way through the villain’s lair at the end, but my focus was more on James. I would love to see her again in the future iteration of James Bond, perhaps even with the 007 designation still assigned to her.

Conclusion to No Time To Die

When I walked away from No Time To Die, I considered this movie the furthest away from the Roger Moore series as is possible. I think this is because I did not feel the amount of fun that I expect from a James Bond movie. There is humor, plenty of it, but it feels awkwardly inserted into scenes, it does not rhyme with the movie naturally.

It is hard to come to a straightforward conclusion regarding No Time To Die. When I left the cinema, I wondered if as time progresses, I was going to hate this movie. Not unlike SPECTRE. I still have not made up my mind, the convoluted plot invokes a feeling of like and dislike, the death of a longtime ally was sour and did not feel necessary, nor did the death of Blofeld. So, when the final act started, I still felt good about the movie but there were caveats. What I do know is that I did not like the final act set on the island occupied by Safin. This section lasted too long, had too much drama and a controversial ending.

One positive point of the final act was Rami Malek as Safin. His portrayal was genius and equally jarring and for me the high point of this movie. After 25 movies Lyutsifer Safin harkened back to Dr. No, a suitable homage. Some have complained about the limited role of Malek, but I think that adds to the mystery of his character. More Safin would have diluted that.

So that was it for my short review of No Time To Die. You should definitely go and see it. Some fans such as myself may find parts of the story controversial but without doubt any viewer will have a good time watching Daniel Craig play James Bond one last time.