James Bond No Time To Die review

No Time To Die review — Bond is back one last time

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In our No Time To Die review, we reflect on two things: is it worth watching and will it save cinema? Read on…

Daniel Craig is back one final time as James Bond. Even Bond couldn’t hold back the pandemic, and the film finally hits the cinema amidst mounting interest repayments on the estimated $250-300 million cost and huge uncertainty over audience confidence in returning to cinema. Is it worth venturing back to the big screen and will it spark a wide-scale return to cinemas? Maybe.

No Time To Die review — is it worth watching?

If you want a simple answer, our view is:

Fans of Daniel Craig’s Bond will enjoy this final outing, despite a few flaws

The film ticks a lot of boxes: Caribbean location work, world saviour required, maverick secret agent, car chases, shootings, trickery, great camera work, music by Hans Zimmer, a mad plot, glamorous women and the mad super-villain’s secret island super-base.

It also carries with it a continual tone of finality — in marking the end of Daniel Craig’s tenure in the role, a number (we won’t spoil) of deaths occur. If you’re going to reboot Bond, it seems easier to make wholesale cast changes, as and when a new cycle hits the screens. Assuming it does.

Things we liked

Let’s start with Craig. He’s a very human Bond, with hang-ups, a need to move on from espionage, yet an agent to the core. He’s particularly bulletproof in several fight sequences, that aside he gives the part a maturity and confidence it needs for an older Bond who really does just want a quite life. He still follows his own rule book, and gets chances to be more than just the secret agent. If at times he seems tired of the part, that may just be a projection of some of the press coverage we’ve all been exposed to.

No Time To Die characters (women)

While we accept it’s a little disappointing there’s still a need to talk about the quality of role for women in movies, we are pleased to note No Time To Die has several very strong female roles.

Léa Seydoux (pictured right) is back as Madeline Swann (last seen in Spectre) and while she is in love with Bond, she’s far from a casual conquest, instead driving a large part of his emotional path through the movie. Naomie Harris (second right) is a commanding screen presence every time Miss Moneypenny is on screen and new 00 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch — bottom left) gives Bond someone to butt up against (thought not to a large extent).

We particularly enjoyed Ana de Armas (who appeared with Craig in Knives Out) as Paloma (top left). If any part is a measure of how far the franchise has come in terms of treatment of women as people not objects, this is the role to hold up as an example.

We also have to call out the superb opening credit sequence, which is a visual treat and cleverly calls out elements of the story obvious in retrospect. Very much worth watching.

The other bits

Compared to the other actors, several men’s parts had less impact. Rory Kinnear’s Bill Tanner is a very token presence, and while Ralph Fiennes (Gareth Mallory / M) can only portray the part how it is written and directed, one can’t help but wonder if Judi Dench’s M was more relevant to this particular film.

We also found Rami Malek’s supervillain Lyutsifer Safin more of a cipher than normal. Apart from being ‘mad’, his motives didn’t seem to lead coherently to his desire to destroy.

Will No Time To Die save cinema?

We saw the film in an afternoon showing on the first day of release. There were around three dozen people, barely 10% or so of the capacity of the screen. It’s just one data point and we will look out for more official figures. Our sense is audiences as a little unsure though interested. Opening weekend takings may be good, though not stellar but we expect a steady rise over a few weeks.

This was our first trip to a cinema since 2020 lockdown, and yes, we are minded for more.

No Time To Die is certainly not going to harm an industry already suffering, but we suspect there needs to be other big titles in the pipeline.

Four Stars