No Time To Die review

This review has a lot of spoilers so beware if you haven't seen No Time To Die yet. A few years ago I watched the film Aquaman and at some point I almost lost the will to live. There was a point in the film where I realised that I had no idea what was going on anymore and didn't care about any of the characters. I had lost interest in the film but it went on and on and on and on and on. It just never seemed to end. I have since learned that this is sometimes called CGI fatigue. When watching an overlong (and middling) CGI blockbuster you sometimes reach a point where you just can't take it anymore. All the clever and expensive special effects suddenly become both completely exhausting and completely hollow. Your mind tunes itself out of the film and you can't summon any investment in what is happening on the screen. I would like to coin a new film related medical condition. I have decided to call it Daniel Craig/Barbara Broccoli James Bond Miserable Melodrama Fatigue.
Though I'm not much of a fan of the Daniel Craig era and his version of Bond there are usually things in his films that I can admire or even enjoy. For example, I've grown quite fond of the London Underground sequence in Skyfall because it's a nice idea to have a chase on the tube. I also like the secret base that MI6 deploy in that film. No Time To Die offered me no such consolations. Out of the Craig films this was by far the biggest slog to get through. I would go as far as to say that this is one of the most boring films I have sat through in a very long time. I don't know if this is the worst of the Craig films because Quantum of Solace is unwatchable and SHOULD be bottom of the pile but at least Quantum of Solace is only ninety minutes long. No Time To Die is so long I began to have Aquaman flashbacks. It just went on and on and on - long after I had zoned out of the story and lost even the slightest interest in what was happening.
The bloodless gunbarrel which begins No Time To Die is another example of EON messing about with the Bond staples to pointless effect. Daniel Craig walks far too rapidly in the gunbarrel and has no poise or grace as a consequence. The horror themed sequence which begins the film with Safin stalking the young Madeleine is certainly errie but it doesn't really belong in a Bond film. Sadly, this is the only time in the film where Safin has any menace or presence. We then cut to Bond and Madeleine in Italy. As expected, No Time To Die is basically a sequel to Spectre. Who asked for a sequel to Spectre? Spectre came out six years ago.
No Time To Die not only expects us to remember who Madeleine Swann is but (and here's the worst part) actually be emotionally invested in her character too. While I vaguely remembered who Madeleine Swann was I can't say I found her very memorable in either Spectre or this film. No Time To Die's foundations as a story are precariously built on the optimistic assumption that the audience will find the love story between Bond and Madeleine epic and deeply moving. I'm afraid I found it tedious and unaffecting. No Time To Die is absolutely desperate to dredge up the emotional impact of OHMSS. To this end we get endless snippets of We Have all the Time in the World in the music score. We even get an hourglass in the titles (as in OHMSS). The constant references to OHMSS only serve to remind us that OHMSS is a vastly superior film to No Time To Die. These references are completely self-defeating and pointless.
I had some trouble picking up the dialogue in the early parts of the film because Craig and Léa Seydoux seem to whisper most of their lines. Later on in the film the dialogue is often drowned out by background noise and music. The sound mixing in No Time To Die is very poor. The music score by Hans Zimmer is very forgettable and underwhelming. One thing that surprised me about No Time To Die was how little action there is in the film and how bland the action is when it arrives. The best action scenes come at the start of the film but we've already seen most of this footage in the many trailers. The only 'Bond moment' worthy of its salt is the Aston Martin machine gun scene. The rest of the film offers only a forgettable parade of fistfights, gunfights, and then another (very average) car chase. In an era where the Mission Impossible films are constantly raising the bar when it comes to spectacular stunts you expect a lot more of Bond.
The title sequence by Daniel Kleinman is not one of his best. Kleinman has designed some beautiful title sequences for the Bond films but this one doesn't really stand out. The title song by Billie Eilish remains dreary and weak. The terrorist heist that begins the film has a lot of Dark Knight Nolan DNA. It feels like dreadful old hat to be trying to mimic the Dark Knight films in 2021. At the start of the film Bond is living off the grid and retired from the secret service. It's basically Skyfall again a mere TWO films after Skyfall! The always excellent Jeffrey Wright is back as Felix but rather wasted. Why bother to bring Wright back if you are only going to give him two scenes and then kill him off? Felix is here simply to activate the plot.
Ana de Armas as Paloma is literally the only bright spark in the film. She is funny and charismatic but sadly only in the story for ten minutes. There's a moment I found rather sad in the film where Bond thinks Paloma is seducing him but then she's like 'in your dreams grandad' and shrugs him off. Craig is so aged and decrepit in No Time To Die that his version of Bond is now paternal - rather like Roger Moore and Bibi Dahl in For Your Eyes Only. They are even pushing it here having Craig and Léa Seydoux together. Seydoux could pass for Craig's daughter at times. It's just an unavoidable consequence of dragging Daniel Craig back five years after his last film. He's plainly aged since Spectre. Ana de Armas would have made a great lead in a more traditional Bond film but, alas, that probably won't happen now. I should mention that there are some beautiful sets in the film. I believe the Cuba scenes were shot at Pinewood and the set designers clearly did a fine job.
No Time to Die is resolutely sombre and miserable for most of its duration. There are endless moments where Daniel Craig purses his lips and gazes off silently - all sad and reflective. The film is desperate for everything to be profound and meaningful but it all feels hollow and grim for the sake of being grim. No Time To Die is absolutely determined not to give you a good time and that's a remarkable thing to say about a James Bond film. Craig's Bond is so relentlessly weary and morose in No Time To Die that he quickly becomes a drag. This Bond is no fun at all. He is very drab company indeed. While I can understand why people might have found Craig's Bond refreshing or a novelty in Casino Royale (where he at least had relative youth on his side), did anyone really want or need five films of this?
After all the marketing hype about a female 007, Lashana Lynch makes no impression at all as Nomi and the less said about Christoph Waltz's cameo as Blofeld the better. Waltz as Blofeld must rank as a great missed opportunity. Daniel Craig is absolutely atrocious in the scene where Bond questions Blofeld. He completely over acts a scene that does not need to be over acted. I gather that Phoebe Waller-Bridge was paid millions to punch up the humour in this film. I'd suggest they might want to ask for a refund. Is the scientist fella with the mustache supposed to be funny? There are some terrible quips in this film. There's nonsense with bionic eyes and then Bond will say someting  like "eye-opening" or "I think I blew his mind". You can see that Daniel Craig doesn't think much of this stuff either and almost resents having to say it.
I found the MI6 regulars especially annoying in No Time To Die. Ralph Fiennes plays M as a priggish imbecile. Why is M's office so small? He looks like he operates from a broom cupboard. Why does M drop an f-bomb? Do EON not want children to watch these films anymore? Why is Bond so annoyingly rude to M? Moneypenny and Tanner have little to do but still manage to be annoying. At one point Tanner says that Blofeld is madder than a 'bag of bees'. Who even talks like this? Who wrote this awful dialogue? Even Ben Whishaw's Q is starting to grate. I would definitely recast all of these parts with the next Bond. I hope they aren't tempted to do what they did with Judi Dench and keep some of them in place
The reintroduction of Madeleine to the story is the final nail into the coffin of a film that is already beginning to lose its way and plainly struggling to justify its own existence. Safin is also introduced (again) and must rank as one of the most undercooked and forgettable film villains in recent memory. Rami Malek seems to be channelling Herr Lipp from The League of Gentlemen. I could barely understand a word he was saying. When he has his first encounter with Bond they even give Safin a cliched 'you know, you and I are very much alike' speech. It is beyond groan inducing.
no time to die review
The producers of this film and Daniel Craig are taking it all soooooo seriously but they've got this muddled script and some really abysmal lines. You'd think that by taking so long to make this film they might have had time to fine tune a script but that clearly wasn't the case (in mitigation I'm sure the Danny Boyle affair didn't help) at all. The nanobot virus nonsense is very flimsy and gives No Time To Die some strange tonal lurches. So you have long stretches where it feels like Daniel Craig is giving the same performance he would in some grim pre-Bond lottery funded drama and then you are suddenly plunged in some silly Die Another Day type scene.
The jeep chase in Norway has some dodgy CGI and feels like thin gruel in an action landscape of Mission Impossible and Marvel. When Madeleine's daughter is introduced, Bond becomes completely generic as a character. He's like a diluted version of Liam Neeson in Taken. Putting a child in danger to heighten tension is such tiresome cliche in action films and it's a shame to see the Bond franchise stoop to this generic staple. Bond having a child is not something we ever needed to see in a Bond film.
The last act of the film is derivative and uninspired. Bond shooting people and control rooms. Very reminiscent of the end of Tomorrow Never Dies. As for Bond's death at the end, this seems to have divided fans and proved controversial. To be honest I couldn't have cared less myself. Yes, it's a stupid idea (and no doubt pilfered from Logan) but these are the people who made Blofeld and Bond step-brothers so what did you expect? If the film had ended with Bond announcing he was now a woman and wanted to be henceforth known as Maureen Bond I probably wouldn't have been surprised. By this stage I cared so little for the boring maudlin spy played by Daniel Craig in No Time To Die that I was happy for those missiles to blow him to smithereens simply because it meant the end of the film must be near.
We must, I'm afraid, now discuss the closing moments. The MI6 team raise a glass to the legendary departed James Bond. Yes, what a great agent he was. He had a couple of missions, retired twice, and then got blown up by some missiles. As far as secret agents go he was pretty rubbish. In fact, compared to the other Bonds, he was flaming useless. You'd probably rank him just below Woody Allen's Jimmy Bond when it comes to spycraft. We end with Madeleine and Mathilde. Let me tell you about a man named Bond. James Bond. That must be the worst line in the history of the Bond franchise. I literally cringe even remembering that moment. Then we (of course) end with We Have all the Time in the World. Goddammit No Time To Die. Stop stealing from OHMSS.
On the evidence of No Time To Die, I really hope that Cary Fukunaga is never allowed anywhere near this franchise again. His film is not only needlessly long and pretentious it is also devoid of wit and memorable action. I'm not even annoyed by No Time To Die because as soon as I heard Daniel Craig was coming back I knew it would be pretentious and miserable and way too long. You knew they would double down on the depressed Bond and his tedious backstory. All I can say is that I desperately hope Barbara Broccoli has got this all out of her system now. Heaven knows who she will cast as the next Bond or what she will do with the franchise next.
I would respectfully suggest that No Time To Die has no rewatch value at all - at least compared to the classic Bonds. Picture this scene. It's Christmas 2025. Someone in the family proposes that everyone gathers round the television and spends three hours watching No Time To Die - a film with little action, no wit, a manically depressed Bond, and Billie Eilish droning over the credits. Oh, and Felix Leiter drowns and Bond is blown up. Yeah, no thanks mate. I think I'll stick with that Morecambe and Wise repeat on BBC2.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I think EON might have missed a trick by not allowing Danny Boyle do whatever it was he was planning to do. I can't believe that Danny Boyle would have turned in a film this dull and tiresome. No Time To Die is a disappointing and unnecessary coda to the Daniel Craig era and a film that was hardly worth the long wait. Spectre, whatever its faults, did provide an ending for Daniel Craig's version of the character. It was a happy and upbeat sort of ending too. That's where they should have left the Craig era to rest in peace.
- Jake

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