Full spoilers after the first paragraph
No Time To Die has finally been released and the film has has an impressive opening box office haul so far, considering the pandemic continues to limit cinema capacities in many parts of the world, the film has had the biggest opening of 2021 to date. The 25th Bond film was originally supposed to release back in April 2020, but has had a string of delays since, forcing it onto two of my most anticipated films of the year articles. We have a spoiler-free review live already if you haven’t seen the movie but if you have, we’re about to spoil pretty much every aspect of the movie (and then we’ll do it on the podcast).
The Best Bond Performance
No Time To Die is many things, both positive and negative, but the one thing it can boast is that it’s by far the best acted Bond film to date. Specifically, it’s the best Daniel Craig has been in the role. Considering the actor commented how he’d rather slash his own wrists than play 007 again, the actor really brought his A-game for his closer. This Bond is much more human and sympathetic than before. The movie starts with him declaring his love for Madeleine Swann before embarking on a pilgrimage to the crypt of Vesper Lynd from Casino Royale, the first woman to break his heart. But the organization Spectre figured Bond would visit her at some point and set up a trap, a bomb in her tomb. Bond figured Madeleine betrayed him and after an amazing car chase, abandons her at a train station. Bond recently declared his love for this woman but thanks to his training and history, he’s emotionally compromised and instead of trying to solve the puzzle, decides to cut ties with emotions like love for good. It’s heartbreaking when we learn later on that she did not betray him. His training would dictate he act on logic and rational thinking and considering Vesper betrayed him in the end, he immediately saw logic in a potential betray from Madeleine as well. He saw himself as getting too close and saw those emotions as a weakness, opting instead to cut her off completely, rather than to try and solve the mystery of the attack.
But Bond gets to reunite with Madeleine Swann five years later and learns that she has a daughter named Mathilde, a child that she first claims isn’t James’ (despite having the same blue eyes), but is later confirmed by Safin and eventually Madeleine to be James’ offspring. James has left his mark in many ways in the world, most of it involving death, but the man with a licence to kill also produced a child out of a relationship built on love. Even without confirmation, Bond knows he has to protect his family and the last act of the movie is essentially Bond trying to save his family (while also saving the world). So between the evolution of the character and the raw acting chops, Craig has fully ushered the character into the 21st century with this quintology by making him relevant, relatable and vulnerable.
While this is Craig at his best, he’s also not the only 007 in the film. As heavily rumored for ages now, the film does confirm that Lashana Lynch’s character, Nomi, has been given the designation 007 after Bond left active service in Spectre. She definitely plays 007 her own way, making her much more competitive and cocky compared to James Bond and gets very confrontational. I think her inclusion never felt forced or sensational while also serving to test the waters for potential 007 spinoffs in the future, as Nomi was designated a new 00 number come the final act of the movie, when she requested James be reinstated as 007.
I See Why Bond Moved First
No Time To Die was actually the first movie to move its release date in early 2020 amidst the concerns of the pandemic. Once it moved, other movies followed suit. But Bond’s initial delay may have also had something to do with Safin’s plot, coupled with the health concern. See, Safin, the most mysterious Bond villain in recent memory, gets his hands on a device that can target the DNA of a particular individual. In a sequence in Cuba, Bond himself was the intended target of the weapon but Dr. Obruchev changed the programming of the machine to wipe out all but one member of the entire Spectre organization (the latter being Blofeld, imprisoned in London). Later on, MI6 learns that those who attended the funeral of the deceased were also infected when they touched the bodies in the open caskets. Despite being programmed “nanobots”, it’s pretty clear that Safin’s repurposed MI6 weapon, Project Hercules, is simply a “smart virus” and learning about such a weapon while the effects of the coronavirus can still be felt was definitely eerie. Those who died at the funeral shared the same DNA as the Spectre casualties in Cuba, resulting in a contagious pathogen of sorts. MI6 made it to target specific individuals on their list, but Safin turned it into a weapon of mass destruction. Dr. Obruchev even threatens Nomi to wipe out the entire African-American population, as he could theoretically target that part of the DNA sequence. She doesn’t allow this, telling him now’s the time to die for even bringing that up.
That didn’t mean that the sinister plot and Safin were timely and interesting. What was holding No Time To Die from stellar greatness was that angle of the film. Rami Malek was good with what he was given, but Safin ultimately felt uninspired and uninteresting, despite the best intentions of the writers. While the characterization of Bond was the heart of the movie, Safin oddly enough felt trapped in the past. He is a disfigured villain with a foreign accent, operating on a hidden base on a remote island. I guess they wanted the 25th Bond film to have those classic elements too, but this actually harmed to movie, especially after how interesting Silva was in Skyfall. Oh, and while we’re here, I’ll just insert that the character of Logan Ash felt wildly out of place and I’m still kinda vexed that such an annoying and over-acted character was the cause of the death of Felix Leiter.
Using the DNA of Madeleine and Mathilde, Safin poisons Bond with the nanobots after shooting him. Knowing that he could risk killing his love and his child as a result, Bond stays on the island and sacrifices himself upon ensuring the missiles would do their job destroying the island. He dies knowing for certain that Mathilde is his child, as if there was really any doubt, but after the saving the world so many times, he died saving his family at the end of the day. It’s quite poetic, if not brutally unjust for the character. In our spoiler-free review, we likened this film to The Last Jedi of the 007 franchise and I’m curious to see what the reaction will be too this movie’s decision to kill Bond, James Bond-a franchise first. But considering the hand he was delt, unless Bond became a hermit, living in total isolation forever, the poison could have bounced around until it came back to Madeleine and Mathilde by accident. The risk was ultimately too great and Bond had to die to prevent any harm from coming to them. It’s just quite sad that, after learning he has a child, he had to die to save her before getting to know her, but she’ll grow up learning about who her father was and what he did to save her and her mother.
James Bond Will Return
Despite that shocking and very final ending, the franchise is actually continuing. The studio could have easily put 007 away forever, retired the character and started a new franchise surrounding 008 or something. But despite James Bond dying at the end of this movie, the final message at the end of the credits is the same it’s been since the franchise started inserting these messages back in 1963 with From Russia With Love: James Bond Will Return.
This could led credence that James Bond is actually a codename that’s passed to the male owners of the 007 handle, but it could also mean the franchise will have a hard reboot coming. But how hard remains to be seen. Casino Royale was a drastic shift compared to the Pierce Brosnan films before it, but Judi Dench returned as M in that film, connecting the properties. One has to wonder now if Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris and Ben Winshaw will also return as M, Moneypenny and Q respectively. Bond producer Barbra Broccoli has stated that the search for the next Bond will begin in 2022 and that yes, he will remain male. At the British bookies, the odds are in the favour of Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page, followed by the likes of Tom Hardy, James Norton, Henry Cavill, Sam Heughan and Richard Madden. Looks like, for now at least, there’s all the time in the world as we await the announcement for the future of the franchise.
What did you think of No Time To Die and who are you predicting as the new James Bond? Let us know!