No Time to Die

No Time to Die ★★★★★

“We have all the time in the world.”

I only have praise for Cary Joji Fukunaga and his very pristine effort to bring Bond into new territory, which with No Time to Die, he does. No Bond film has ever felt quite this romantic or intimate (although Skyfall comes close in its close-knit, personal narrative, and it plays as a strength. It’s a confident finale for Daniel Craig’s Bond, which Fukunaga celebrates, whilst also highlighting influences that are evinced in the film and how it plays out. It’s a marvellously huge, explosive, blockbuster piece of cinema that retains its intimacy and romance through its characters, despite the quite expansive threats, missions and various complexities that continue to unfold all around them.

No Time To Die is also loaded with a supporting cast that is stacked, literally stacked, with talent; returning characters in Madeleine and Felix, and the more typical MI6 crew of Moneypenny and M, along with exciting new additions in Ana De Armas’ Paloma - whose eager presence is limited but refreshingly energetic and full of enthusiasm (a scene stealer for sure) - and Lashana Lynch - who fits perfectly into the MI6 crew, as well as sharing her own share of classic Bond sarcasm along Craig as the new 007. 

I think they’re all wonderful here but I was especially captured by Rami Malek’s performance as Safin; he’s just an enigma here, always surrounded by this utterly threatening and unfathomable demeanour and his conversational scenes with Bond come out as some of my favourites from the film. Safin is simple compared to the likes of Le Chiffre, Silva and Blofeld, as in he’s a character that requires a much less lively or theatrical approach and Malek gets it right, hitting the essence of what makes Safin such a compelling Bond villain - his eccentrically odd yet enigmatic personality, which includes his often philosophical way of speech. I do adore Le Chiffre, Silva and Blofeld, and I think Mads, Javier and Waltz each give unique performances as the three iconic modern takes on these Bond villains that will ultimately be remembered by many, but Safin, in his monotoned mystery, might just be my favourite villain of the bunch, absolutely just my type of villain: quiet, enigmatic, brooding, philosophical, intelligent; Malek is central to that delivery.

Another performance, that in my opinion, besides the obvious one, is central to the film, is Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann. Seydoux is an incredible actress, has been one of my favourite actresses for years now, and although she’s not the core character of the two Bond films she’s been in, it always does feel like she is, because that’s how immensely felt her presence is on the films she appears in. She was wonderful alongside Craig in Spectre - they have sweet chemistry that is carried onto this one - and it’s only elevated by a large amount with No Time to Die. She’s central to this story and to Bond’s arc in this film and it’s always a lovely scene with her alongside Craig, they craft some clearly beautiful, heartfelt scenes together.

But of course, No Time to Die, is Daniel Craig’s film, his final outing as the iconised James Bond. I mean, I really don’t think anyone has done or will do better than Craig when it comes to Bond; he’s topped it for me, and although I admire the other Bond’s as well, I just think Craig has been the most consistently exciting, refreshing, intelligent, masterful, entertaining, and expansive Bond actor, bringing so much emotion and nuance to the already famed character with his five films, at least two of which people would consider a masterpiece, and all five of which I would consider good entries, three of which - this one included - I would say are some of the most intelligent and thrilling blockbuster films. Craig has brought a whole new game and dimension to James Bond and it’s gonna be odd so odd seeing someone else play this character years down the line without it being the man who perfected the character. For everything, for the five films, I’m thankful that Daniel Craig’s gifted us with these new perspectives on an over half-century old novel and film character. Along with the last hour or a half of Casino Royale and the second half of Skyfall, No Time to Die is his most personal performance, and it shows him at his best as Bond, in moments of intense ferocity amidst gunfire and dangers, and in sweeter, intimate moments of vulnerability and heart, truly exposing himself as the character in the process, in what is a beautifully nuanced and emotional farewell to his time as James Bond.

I certainly can’t end without commenting anything about Hans Zimmer’s passionate Bond score, which plays into the traditional formality of the Bond theme, whilst blending a piece of Bond’s own vulnerability and heart into certain tracks that feel typically Zimmer in the most intimate and romantic of ways, despite feeling simultaneously adventurous and enthrallingly upbeat. Craig’s farewell sounds amazing but it also looks a treat visually, all thanks to Linus Sandgren, who is, yeah, perfect for this film and Fukunaga’s vision for Bond. With the aid of a production design team who gifts the film with some outstandingly gorgeous sets and environments, Sandgren captures an atmosphere of finality that feels purposely romantic as to integrate Bond and Madeleine’s bond into the visual look of the film, despite capturing the thrilling atmosphere of a James Bond film. It’s a testament to Sandgren’s talents as a cinematographer that his visual eye perfectly captures the romantic tone of Fukunaga’s vision for the film, as this intimate goodbye to Craig’s Bond.

No Time to Die is one of my favourite films of the year, even one of my favourite blockbusters of recent years, and I think it just might be, not only my favourite Craig Bond film, but just my favourite Bond film in general, alongside Casino Royale. It’s everything adventurous, fun and kinetic I’ve loved about the Bond films for years, mixed in with this sense of finality that is fully and constantly yearning for an intimate and romantic atmosphere that is symbiotic with Fukunaga’s sweet vision for finality and emotionality in Craig’s farewell to the Bond character. It’s lovely, it’s made my day today, and instantly makes me reflect on how much time some of us have left because sometimes we do have “all the time in the world.” I’ll surely miss him; adieu to Daniel Craig’s James Bond.

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