Released: 11th November 2021
Seen: 24th February 2022

Since his first appearance in film in 1962, James Bond has been a staple of cinema. Over 25 outings he has been the first image we think of when we think of spies, with his gadgets and his Bond Girls and his dry martini that’s shaken but not stirred. He’s an icon who has been so powerful that he has somehow survived through a half-dozen different actors playing him over his long film career. The most recent actor to drive the legendary Aston Martin, Daniel Craig, decided that the latest film No Time To Die would be his final time playing the legend with the license to kill and god damn is he going down swinging.

No Time To Die starts with Bond (Daniel Craig) enjoying what is about as close as Bond will ever get to retirement, until of course something happens that requires Bond to be pulled back in. Scientist Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik) has developed a special technology that acts like a virus that can kill people based on their DNA, so it can either kill specific families or even individual people or just wipe out entire races. After a little bit of Bond’s standard action scenes, including teaming up with his old friend and CIA operative Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and the current 007 Nomi (Lashana Lynch) they soon discover that the man in charge of this terrifying technology is a man known as Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malik) who might just be the toughest villain that Bond has ever faced.

From the opening scene to the start of the credits, No Time To Die is a celebration of all things Bond and rightfully so. This film pulls the double duty of sending off the current Bond on his final journey (not a spoiler, Craig’s been wanting to be done with this role for a while so it was pretty clear this would be his final outing) and celebrating 25 films in this franchise that’s somehow still chugging along after 60 years.

Everything you could ask from in a Bond film is here, from an iconic terrifying villain to a smattering of Bond girls who can also kick some ass to a large supply of incredible gadgets and more than a few laughs along the way. It’s a grand rollicking ride… that decides in the last half hour that it would also like to rip out your still-beating heart and show it to you.

No Time To Die is a journey of Bond after he’s grown up and realised that he would like a life outside of the normal insane spy gear, a man who wouldn’t mind actually settling down and letting someone else save the world for once but inevitably realising he’s the only man who can do the job.

You can almost feel his hope that if he can just get through this one mission, he can run off with Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and leave saving the world in the capable hands of Nomi and watching him use that as fuel to take on Safin is powerful and leads to the absolutely incredible finale which says everything you need to say about Bond. He could have stopped any time, but he has no time because someone needs to do what must be done.

No Time to Die (2021) - Daniel Craig
No Time to Die (2021) – Daniel Craig

Now, obviously, I wouldn’t normally be reviewing a 2021 film in 2022 because I’m lazy like that, but this is also an Oscar nominee so let’s touch on the parts that got it that award. The theme song is gorgeous, a haunting tune that perfectly matches the tone of No Time To Die and really leans into Billie Eilish’s strengths as a singer. It might not be one of the best Bond themes (There are so many great Bond themes that even a fantastic song might not put you in the top 10 Bond themes) but it’s an absolutely fantastic way to open this film.

The visual effects were absolutely brilliant, while they weren’t pushing anything to insane levels, they’re more there to enhance already existing sets to make things feel a little grander or to create locations they just couldn’t build and it’s stunning work, so seamless that you will be stunned when you see what they actually edited into the shot because it’s so well done. There’s actually a wonderful little video showing just a handful of the 1487 visual effects shots that they did but it’s no wonder No Time To Die is getting some Oscar love for pulling this off.

Lastly, the sound work is just great, everything is blended so wonderfully with the score coming in at just the right moments and never overpowering the dialogue with the effects. No Time To Die also does my personal favourite sound trick that films use where a grenade goes off and the sound fades away like everyone’s just lost their hearing from the blast. It’s a little trick that I can’t help but enjoy and this film does it in a way that we still get that effect but we’re also not just sitting in total silence for a while, it’s quite good.

Honestly, the only real complaint one could have is that No Time To Die does feel a little bit bloated in terms of runtime, pushing towards 3 hours this one is a bit of a commitment and there’s a good chunk of it that feels pointless (Heck, there’s an entire character played by Ana De Amas who you would think might be a bigger character but she’s only really in one big section of the film and then wanders off).

Not saying No Time To Die needed to be shortened, hell after 25 films and 60 years this franchise has earned a chance to show off and play, but it feels like there needed to be some mild reworking of the story so we have more time with the whole Bond/Safin/Madeleine storyline. Hell, despite Safin being a genuinely unnerving villain, he doesn’t get nearly the screentime he deserves. 

If you’ve got the time to devote to this one though, No Time To Die is a rip-roaring celebration and glorious send-off for Daniel Craig’s Bond and it does so with explosions and heart. It’s worth the time investment to really enjoy it and a great way to celebrate something this iconic.

No Time To Die might be the end of Craig’s run, but to be honest, if this was also just the end for Bond in general (It won’t be, this is the only thing keeping MGM from being consumed completely by Amazon and folded into their web, they can’t let that brand die) it would be a fitting end for a legendary franchise.

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