James Bond No Time to Die Review

After eighteen months of delays Bond is back. Daniel Craig's final outing as the British intelligence spy 007 is finally screening at cinemas. This feels like a massive moment in British cinema history. This is also the first time I have seen a James Bond film at the cinema, which was a fun experience. Craig who made his debut as Bond back in 2006 with Casino Royale, makes one final fantastic performance as Ian Flemings James Bond. It is the end of a rather fantastic era of Bond, which has seen the character develop into more of an action hero, and gradually less of a womaniser. No Time to Die ties the Daniel Craig era together, with connections to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). It is certainly a film for the history books and perhaps one of the best Bond films. Read on for me full review - there will be MAJOR spoilers. (You have been warned!). 
Narrative wise No Time to Die, is enjoyable. engaging and action packed. The film gives James Bond grounding and a real emotional connection which is something I think the Craig films have always tried to do. The film opens with a fantastic couple of sequences, in the first we are introduced to Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) as he hunts the man that murdered his family. His introduction is chilling and results in his attempted murder and then rescue of a young Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). Cut to James (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine as they travel together, Bond retired and in love. After the grave of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green - Casino Royale) is blown up, and Spectre closes in James leaves Madeleine and retires from service. Skip forward five years and evil mastermind Safin gets his hands on a chemical weapon, developed under the orders of Bond's boss, M (Ralph Fiennes). Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and the new 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch) pull James back into the fray and the chase begins. With Q (Ben Whishaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) all once again central parts of the narrative. Newcomers to the series Ana De Armas as Paloma and Billy Magnussen as Logan Ash are welcome additions to the cast. As I said the narrative is fun, engaging and at emotional. But when you look a little deeper, questions are raised. Most of which revolve around Madeleine, her story is confusing and inconsistent, as if her role in the film changed serval times and what we got was a disjoined combination. There are hints that she is a villain, that she is even Safin's family for example, both of which get forgotten about as soon as they are mentioned or are ignored completely. In the opening sequences for example as a child she shoots Safin multiple times, and thinking he is dead, drags his body from her home. But as an adult she is pushed around by Bond, almost feeble. Yet later in the film she is anything but feeble, and suddenly has a secret child that no one knows about? It's frustrating but these realisations only began when I left the cinema, so did not distract from the overall narrative. This film was probably Bond biggest mission however, and a worthy send off. 
We have seen Bond develop into an action hero, more often in large fight scenes rather than on low key spy missions. So, it would make sense that he would go out as missiles fired from a navy ship rained down. Bond giving his life to save humanity. Craig's mature, experienced performance of Bond is specular and effortless, a joy to watch. It was bold, epic and dignified. Everything we know James Bond to be. His epic romance with Madeleine is sweat, yet tragic. However, the age difference between the actors was jarring at times. With Bond a man in his 50's, it would have been nice to see an actress in her 50's play his love interest. His development as a character stems further, gone are his womanising days, despite his attempts. With Nomi pretending to seduce him as a joke to introduce herself and then Palmoa, who laughs at the idea of kissing him. None of which he argues with, or affects him, he has evolved, it's refreshing. In fact, none of the women in the film exist solely for the pleasure of Bond, each has their own identity, work and motivations. A lot of them kick ass just as effectively as Bond which was fun to watch. M, is another character to evolve however, not for the better. He is more arrogant than ever, a hindrance to Bond and national security. His 360 to help Bond feels undeserved and rushed. Rami Malek offers a compelling performance as the main villain; I feel almost short changed. One movie is just simply not enough, I would have liked to see him, and James have some real friction and battle it out over two or three movies. 
No Time to Die certainly has all the makings of a great James Bond film. Grand sweeping vistas and multiple exciting locations, slick shot transitions. Gadgets and Technology - including a plane that can dive underwater and operate as a submarine, old school Bond style. Action, thrills and chases through the woods. Martinis shaken. And a impressive orchestral soundtrack that utilises bold, big sounds whilst giving us some old style James Bond tracks. I love how reminiscent the soundtrack is throughout. Everything really comes together in this film, and the result is something special. So special, that it may just make you cry. The final moments of No Time to Die are easily the most emotional, connected and pure minutes of the whole James Franchise. The opening and the closing moments of this film, stay with you with, in a way I don't think any other James Bond moment has. It rather feels like the end of James Bond rather then the end before rebirth. 
Overall, James Bond No Time to Die is a must watch movie. It's impressive scale, locations, themes and characters, so typical Bond. Yet it feels original and refreshing. Bond himself has transitioned into a character with purpose and groundings, with his own family and network of friends and colleagues. The cast as a whole offer their very best, it's sad in a way that it is all over. But we never know what the future holds, perhaps some of the characters will continue on in their roles as Judi Dench did in her role as M first appearing in GoldenEye (1995) which starred Pierce Brosnan as Bond.  No Time to Die was truly worth the wait. 

Thank you for reading.  Give me your thoughts in the comments below xx

(On the future of Bond: I'm just going to say it, James Bond should not become a female character. Instead let's write and support an original female led spy movie. Women can lead franchises and they can play iconic characters of their own. They do not need to be the next James Bond, or Indiana Jones or whatever. They need and can be the first!). 

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