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No Time To Die – Revisited

October 17, 2021

No Time To Die may have won the critics round, but it seems to have divided James Bond fans. I had a feeling this would happen when I first saw it, and loved it, two weeks ago at one of the earliest screenings I could find. Seeing a Bond film twice at the cinema is something of a tradition for me, so I didn’t need much encouragement to return and re-watch Daniel Craig’s swansong as 007. Did it hold up on the second viewing? Yes, in fact it enhanced the film in many ways. Clocking in at just under three-hours this is the lengthiest Bond film of the entire series, and there is much in it to chew over. Rather than do a traditional review, I thought I’d pull out a few things from the film that either pleased or irked me this time round.

NTTD is an ensemble piece and the acting is almost universally superb, but the glittering prizes have to go Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux. As Bond and Madeleine they are so much like a real couple it’s uncanny. They even argue sexy. However, for an action film oddly preoccupied with domesticity it’s nice to see Ana de Armas giving the film some much needed oomph. Her onscreen time is little more than an extended cameo, but in it she manages to slay a dozen bad guys and the Bond Girl Curse to boot.

I enjoyed spotting the multiple references to the series filmic and literary legacy. Seeing a portrait of Judi Dench on an MI6 wall was nice and to see one of the relatively unknown Robert Brown was a delight. There’s a danger this could all get a bit too self-reverential, but the Bond audience tends to be older and appreciates these gestures as a sign they have not been forgotten. Although when I went to see the film with a chum we nearly forgot to wait for the closing words ‘James Bond Will Return’. We were halfway to the door when we realised the oversight. We stood and watched all the credits and listened to all of the incidental music which, like a bad Music Hall act, they play to ‘persuade’ you to leave the theatre. It wasn’t until the final copyright legalese had flashed on the screen that we saw those reassuring words.

James Bond will return but while we wait, No Time To Die is a thrilling addition to the series that stands up to repeated viewings.

And now the negatives:

Having had time to reassess Rami Malek’s performance, I don’t think I was too harsh on him last time round. I know Bond villains are not exactly supposed to be believable, but Malek has to convince the audience that his anger drives him to take revenge on the people who murdered his family and subsists to make him take his revenge on the world. Frankly, his subdued presence doesn’t accomplish that.

Billie Eilish’s song is a disappointment. Not bad, but not exactly great either. In fact, with the exception of Chris Cornell’s thumping good tune ‘You Know My Name’, all of the Bond songs of the Craig era have been interminable dirges in search of a chorus. Hard to believe (or is it?) that two of them have won Oscars.

I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a tribute to Sean and Roger. I can see the logic. The entire film is in some ways a tribute to Daniel Craig and OHMSS. However, a split second title card ‘In Memory of…’ wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Over to you dear readers. Have I overrated No Time To Die or did you enjoy it as much as I did?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2021 1:38 pm

    Thanks for these thoughts—and agree in so many ways, even on simply a first viewing. (Planning a second myself, as soon as a friend of mine meets his writing deadline and is available to go.) Saw other comment on your previous post that was NOT pleased with the film—and even in my own family, my wife had very different feelings than me (those last 15 minutes ruined the movie for her). Completely understand the strength of all those feelings, but I thought it was daring and terrific, for all the reasons you’ve mentioned and more.

    • October 17, 2021 1:50 pm

      Thanks Art. It feels like every fan who dislikes the film does so solely on the basis of the last fifteen minutes, which is fair enough. It is a big gamble of an ending. But for me, I felt like they pulled it off. I waited for the line James Bond Will Return and I’m confident that he will.

      • October 17, 2021 1:57 pm

        We sat through the entire credits as well to see…. and then I wished I had my camera ready to get a snapshot!

  2. October 17, 2021 2:54 pm

    A week after seeing it (and I have no intention at this time of ever revisiting it as I have nearly all other Bond films), I still have this strange mix of reactions to the film. I loved it all except for the conclusion, which I still loathe and which for me is full of so many logic holes and issues…(and slight spoiler warning here), wouldn’t that Omega and its EMP make short-work of tiny robotic things in one’s blood stream? Wouldn’t it upon first use have just as easily wiped out Q’s ability to track agents in the field injected with “Smart Blood”? There was also that quip about the watch’s “power” in terms of an EMP pulse which seemed to be meant to resonate in some way not delivered upon (at least yet). As Art Taylor said above, the rest of my family also said the climax ruined the entire film for them, and they, too, vow never to revisit, which is again a rare thing for us in a Bond film.

    • October 17, 2021 3:41 pm

      Hi Craig, I can’t fault your logic here. Bond science has never made much sense. But rewatching Spectre I spotted a few other lapses in logic. Mr White implying his wife died of illness, and also that he split with Blofeld when he started killing women and children. But Mr White murders Le Chiffre’s girlfriend and Safin’s mother. I’m also wondering about details of those last fifteen minutes and how, if at all, they will affect the next Bond. Do they wipe the slate clean with another origins story or take things forward, somehow, from that island ending

  3. mikeripley permalink
    October 17, 2021 3:19 pm

    An American friend, having just seen NTTD messaged me: “Dear God, what have they done?”
    I liked it, despite the plot holes and the repetitive final one-man-army gunfight which had a body count of ‘Where Eagles Dare’ + ‘Squid Game’.

    • October 17, 2021 3:44 pm

      I’m with you on the silly shooting towards the end. Seemed like a sop to the video game crowd. A friend of mine told his father about the ending to which he replied, “About bloody time!”

  4. October 17, 2021 6:01 pm

    Hey Steve,

    I’m not a huge Bond fanatic in general, and have to say I was slightly underwhelmed by the film! The plot is very shaky (bordering on nonsensical and times, I felt) and whilst there are some stunning individual set pieces, it all felt very atomised and incoherent to me.

    I really dug the ending though, probably because I’m not a bond purist. I still think Casino Royale remains the benchmark and none of the subsequent films have come close to that (for me!). I thought Skyfall was similalry nonsensical and immensely overstated as well and I know I’m in the minority there!

    I have only seen No Time To Die once though, so maybe a second viewing would change things!

    • October 17, 2021 6:36 pm

      Hi Nathan, You are not alone in disliking Skyfall. It’s my least favourite of Craig’s films. I don’t know why that one gets so much good press. I guess we’re seeing a faultline emerging between hardcore fans who hate the ending and more moderate fans who are fine with it. At least everyone’s talking about it!

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