No Time To Die


‘…no action film can ingest a full hour without any action to speak of…’

I’ve written elsewhere about the reasons that I sat down in a sour state of mind to the swan song of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies, No Time to Die, but what’s the actual film like itself? The Craig years have been a bumpy ride; the promising but bloated Casino Royale, the paper-thin Quantum of Solace, the all-time high of Skyfall, the messy doldrums of Spectre, and finally No Time To Die. The problem, as with Star Wars and most other franchises is, the longer it goes on, the more you realise that they’re just making it up as they go along.

Things start brightly with some retconning; we’re introduced to previous relationship Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) and as soon as she blurts out ‘there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,’ we know that she’s pregnant and that Bond now has a daughter and a family to protect. This protect-your-family motivation is contrary to Bond lore, but it helps that the notion is cannily dropped in the middle of a stylish Aston Martin chase through an ancient Italian town; the disguise just about sugar-coats the contradictions. A second set piece, a fire-fight in a Santiago night-club for Blofeld’s birthday party, also lands well, but things start to fall apart with the introduction of the new young, black and gifted female OO7 (Lashana Lynch); James Bond has retired after all. Over an hour of inane, static chat then follow without Bond even picking up a gun; we eventually unite Bond with his family in Scotland, but off-the-shelf baddie Safin (Rami Malek) is still waiting on his island lair with plans to annihilate the world, and all that dark foreshadowing can’t really go for nothing.

No Time to Die can’t really be faulted for the action scenes, which are terse, well-realised and technically superb. But the key element of humour is missing; Phoebe Waller-Bridge was drafted in to pep the script up, but sophistication is MIA, with gags that would elicit groans in the Roger Moore era. The new 007 drops down onto a dance-floor, shoots an assailant and quips ‘Mind if I cut in?’ Cringe. Even the serious-minded Skyfall stooped to double-taking underground passengers for cheap laughs, but the tired one-liners here take away from the big reveal; spoiler alerts, James Bond finally gets killed. That should be a big deal for a 20th century icon, but after besting so many adversaries, to see Bond bite the bullet at the hands of a no-mark villain who cuts around in his dressing gown is a whopping anti-climax. And it’s painful listening to the new and old 007 squabbling about who should have the title; they sound like toddlers in a playground, but the familiar punchline is that the uppity woman gets slapped down. Thanks, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Ana de Armas achieves far more for women in her memorable ten minute turn, but alas, her character is ignored for the rest of the film.

Craig has proved himself as a great James Bond, and probably deserved an encore; it’s just a shame that No Time To Die has no idea what the greatest hits should be, and the actor seems bored with the role. Craig joined the franchise at a time when films were still planned one by one, and the lack of any over-arcing direction scuppers any sense of continuity over his five movies. Oddities like a cameo from Gromit the dog, or Bond mentioning The Book of Mormon, feel like something of a stretch for an out-dated character whose claim to wokeness seems to be that his friends are all black. Cary J Fukunaga seems to have been doing the best he can with a salvage job here, and there’s a nice choice of Jack London quote to finish, but no action film can ingest a full hour without any action to speak of. The final James Bond Will Return caption feels more like a threat than a promise unless his producers can find a valid reason for him to do so.


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  1. Not too bad, but just like you I think it failed to be the magnum opus of the Craig era. Script is erratic, bad guy escaped from the Moore period, his goal is absurd, and I’m not fond of Madeleine Swan. Lots of negative points.

  2. As you said, some great action scenes but man oh man was it looooong! Can’t quite believe I’m saying this about a Bond movie but I was close to sleep a couple of times. That shouldn’t be possible, James! Plus the ending was ridiculous. That was NOT James Bond.

    • I hear you! I’m going to measure the gap between the ship blowing up and the car chase in Scotland. I think it’s over 70 minutes of just talking heads. Bond may change with the times, but he has to be more than a man in a suit who talks to people. And that ending is a working definition of overblown. They found more ways to kill him than Rasputin. Time to start again.

  3. Seems like James Bond is a story that is best told without real forward motion from film to film–he’s like the Jack Reacher novels and other detective stories. I don’t really want to see long term character development. I just want them to solve the crime and kill the bad guys while I eat my popcorn. Then I’ll come back in a year or two or three and find them right where I left them to do it again. Still, really no desire to see this one. I’ve never really connected to the James Bond series–I’ll do my popcorn eating elsewhere, thanks.

    • I hear you, and that makes sense. The Bond movies worked when each one was a one-off. But now, they’re calling back characters and scenes from 15 years ago, and it’s pretty hard to remember what they’re talking about. I’m not a fan of the Marvel model, but I do get that they made something substantial out of the planning and connecting up of different movies, although that seems to be falling apart now. I do think that young people today will not know how satisfying a great one-off movie can be, no world building, no sequel, just a great story. That used to be an art form, but now every film is just an advert for a franchise to come…

      • Agree. A well planned out and executed multi-movie story with call-backs and character development is a wonderful thing…but not every round peg has to be jammed into that square hole.

        • Yup. I’m not suggesting that Bond or Star Wars should have multi-film arcs, but if they do, they need to plan them better or just concentrate on a strong single film. No shame in satisfying us in one sitting.

    • I really felt that the pieces clicked in Skyfall, but the two films that followed haven’t clicked with me. Second watch of Spectre wasn’t as bad as the first, and I’m sure I’ll give this another crack, but that ending will always be overblown…

  4. Time to Die? Ain’t nobody got time for dat!

    I’ve watched a bunch of Bond movies over the years as they’ve come up on prime and I’ve never understood how the franchise came to be as big as it is. 90minutes is the absolute tops for how long one of them should be though. Any more and the weakness of the characters as characters and the existing world framework really shows. I’ve seen one Craig as Bond movie and I can’t even remember if I finished it.

    • Yup, whetever the direction is moving forwards, I hope they can the bloatedness, this film is a real slog at over 2 and a half hours….hard to thrill anyone over that kind of endurance test….

  5. Oh dear, nobody can quip like Moore and it’s so out of tune for Craig who is probably the glummest Bond ever. But was it worth the wait? Sounds like Christoph Waltz didn’t get much to do either… what a waste.

  6. Wait what? They seriously killed him off?? For reals? Or is it a pretend death that no-one knows about except the Missi and the sprogg and they are hidden away on a tropical island?

    • No, he’s dead for sure. But in the world of franchises and reboots, that’s no problem, they just ignore this film and start where they want. It looks like Craig just wanted a firm tin lid on him playing the role…

        • No, it’s just the end of the Craig ones, and he was bored of doing it and we were bored of watching it. This is no time to mourn fictional characters…

  7. So is Lynch the new 007 moving forward, or is that still to be determined? I’ll get to this sometime but I’m not in any rush. All the Craig Bond movies seemed bloated to me. But it’s like the Marvel efforts when they started settling into 2 1/2 or 3 hours. I guess the calculation is that people just want to see more for their money. But it makes a mess of pacing and leads to a lot of boring stretches, especially given that they’re working with cartoon characters to begin with.

    I think 60+ years plus may be redundant.

    • I think there’s zero chance that Lynch will be the new 007, based on the horrified reaction, but she has nothing to work with at all, so it was a thankless task anyway….but yes, this is a bloated effort, so hard to get momentum at this length…

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