Finally, Bond is back and director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s installment in the timeless spy franchise picks up right where Spectre left off.
Now retired from MI6, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is spending his days in love with Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), an extreme rarity for a man as haunted and as hunted as him. When they are unexpectedly attacked in Italy, Bond is unwillingly plunged back into his life of espionage – a life that doesn’t seem to want to let him go, no matter the cost. Aside from Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), Spectre’s sinister, genocidal leader, who is currently under lock and key in MI6’s most heavily guarded prison, Madeleine is the only remaining person who knows all of the terrorist organisation’s secrets and they want her dead. Barely escaping with their lives, Bond walks away from her and their life together, not only because, immediately assuming his former self, he believes that she betrayed him and revealed his location to Blofeld’s men, but because he is trying to protect her.
Five years later, Bond is living in isolation in Jamaica when once again, like vultures feasting on a delicious corpse, trouble sinks its talons into him once again. This time it comes in the form of Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). Leiter and his colleague Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen) need his help locating Russian scientist Obruchev (David Denick), who was working on Heracles, an off-the-books project for MI6, but was kidnapped by unknown assailants. Obruchev was developing a DNA-targeting bioweapon that travels through foreign human bodies harmlessly until it finds its intended victim, killing them brutally. Bond dismisses Felix, opting to go back home with a beautiful woman named Nomi (Lashana Lynch). But things are never what they seem and, as it turns out, Nomi is exactly that sort of woman. She is the new 007, Bond’s own successor and interrogates him about Obruchev. Only when she reveals that Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), the director of MI6 himself, is responsible for the creation of Heracles, does Bond decide to return to the game one last time.
As this is happening, a mysterious masked man, a scarred, revengeful shadow from Madeleine’s past has finally revealed himself. No one knows, but it is he who is pulling all the strings, and, as Bond is about to quickly learn, only those who have lost everything and are not afraid to die, are the ones who have all the time in the world.
Also featuring the talents of Oscar winner Rami Malek, Ana de Armas, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, No Time to Die is the thrilling, nearly three-hour adventure we were craving. Fukunaga’s vision is a worthy farewell to Ian Fleming’s iconic gentleman spy.
Whereas its four predecessors opened with action-packed sequences, this fifth film forges a new path for itself, kicking off the storyline with a scene characterised by the frozenness of the Norwegian tundra and a creepy predatory air that grips viewers by the bones the moment the screen fades from black.
Billie Eilish performs the Grammy award winning titular track, which captures the dark essence of Bond’s circumstances and his flirtation with death.
Shot on location in picturesque Italy, London, Jamaica, the Faroe Islands and Havana Cuba, the large-scale production design is, simply put, impressive. After all, what’s an espionage film without a little globe-trotting? Each environment is wholly different from the next, functioning as multiple characters that dictate the odds of survival.
The fight choreography that occurs in each place deserves praises as well. It is clear each cast member trained hard to perfect such routines and bring the violence to life in an entertainingly vivid way. Daniel Craig’s dedication to this role is touching, what with production having to be put on hold as a result of a broken ankle from performing his own stunts.
Moving on to the cast, Craig is as debonair and rakish as he’s always been. Shouldering practically every scene, his innate charm, devilishly handsome blue eyes (seriously who could ever resist those?) and striking seriousness reinforce him as one, if not the best embodiment of Bond thus far. Rami Malek proves himself as a great new addition to the Bond villain lineup; his deliberate, careful speech, fantastically creepy makeup and understandable though corrupt motivations all combine to form a worthy opponent for our hero.
However, the women of the film are just as, if not more so dynamic, with each actress posing as a foil to him in varying degrees. Lynch’s Nomi is a no-nonsense agent who gets results and is not intimidated in the slightest by Bond’s reputation at MI6. Her confidence is empowering, and it is wonderfully refreshing to see a black woman repeatedly kicking the ass of villains and her fellow spies alike. If Lynch is the brain, Lea Seydeux’s Madeleine is the heart of the story. Inch by inch her past is unraveled, and we cannot help but root for her happy ending after all she’s been through. Ana de Armas’s brief cameo infuses the leaden gravity of the plot with humour. Her rookie agent Paloma is beautiful and quirky, and it is really a shame she wasn’t given much screen time. Moneypenny rounds out the strong female leads, acting as Bond’s confident and oldest ally, always there to aid him in strategy and find answer. If it wasn’t for her, he’d lack access to most information and as a spy, information is gold. It is with these four women that co-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s influence comes alive. Yes, all the women are striking, but the male gaze is reduced to a degree of mutual respect and cooperation. Bond relies on these women to cheat death and seek out answers. Rare is it for a male-centric, male-targeted franchise to loan its spotlight to such diverse, capable, scene-stealing women.
It’s been six years since we last got a James Bond film; fortunately, this one was worth the wait. While Daniel Craig may not be carrying the torch anymore, we are promised that ‘James Bond will return’, and it will be wildly interesting to see where this franchise goes from here. That said, Craig left it all on the field, and his time as the world’s most famous spy is historic, seeing as he’s been the longest-running Bond.
It’s been a genuine pleasure to see this chapter of the franchise unfold on the silver screen.
No Time to Die is out in cinemas now
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95
I finally watched NO TIME TO DIE this past Sunday on the big screen. Your brilliantly articulated essay does the exciting frisson of the film proud.