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No Time To Die (2021): A Spoiler-Free review by Mark Cerulli

By: Mark Cerulli
No Time To Die spoiler-free review
After 18 months of Covid-related delays and all the noise about No Time To Die being Daniel Craig’s last Bond film and speculation about who will be the next Bond, the movie is finally here and the filmmakers truly delivered!

Along with being the longest Bond film ever, clocking in at 2 hrs 43 minutes, it opens with perhaps the longest pre-credits sequence - an assassination attempt by a chilling masked intruder that wouldn’t seem out of place in a horror movie – and yet, it IS a Bond film with stunning photography by Swedish cinematographer Linus Sandgren, exotic locations and axle-busting car stunts. Yet this time, we’re faced with a different Bond - retired, battle scarred and somewhat broken. He lives off the grid in Jamaica (home to Ian Fleming’s GoldenEye retreat) until Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) reenters Bond's life asking for one more favor.

The film contains many nods to the past – with traces of You Only Live Twice (the novel), On Her Majesty's Secret Service starring George Lazenby, Casino Royale, and his romance with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) from SPECTRE.

The complex plot involves Safin, a shadowy villain nursing a grudge who steals a bioweapon that will threaten the entire world. He operates from a private island complete with armed guards and uniformed workers on industrial concrete sets that evoke the Ken Adam era. Blofeld (portrayed for the second time by Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz) also makes a welcome return, giving Bond one last chance to face him down in a riveting sequence that reminded me of their first faceoff in the volcano control room over five decades ago. But even with such a grand scope, the emotional core of the film is James Bond and his lingering sense of loss over Vesper and his tangled romance with Swann; the sense that the end may finally be near. Daniel Craig turns in the best performance of his five 007 films, nuanced, raw, vulnerable yet tough as nails. He’s a human bullet that can also shed a tear.

Much has been written about the “Female 007”, played with style and confidence by Lashana Lynch. Her relationship with Bond starts off hostile but warms as she sees beyond his Kevlar defenses. Léa Seydoux is achingly beautiful as Bond’s star-crossed love and Oscar-winner Rami Malek is disturbing and effective as the ghostly Safin. And since every villain needs an evil henchman, Safin has a memorable psychotic named Primo, played by French-Algerian actor Dali Benssalah. The cast includes all the Bond regulars – M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw), who is central to the plot. Ana de Armas has a delightful turn as an undercover Cuban agent who sets the land-speed record in downing a martini. No Time To Die was based on a script by longtime Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Supported by the guardians of Bond – veteran producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli - director Cary Joji Fukunaga made the two plus hours fly by, ably handling the action sequences, yet showcasing Bond’s humanity – his raw emotion as well as his iron fist. For Craig’s final turn as 007, the filmmakers sent him off with a bang. Well done!

No Time To Die will be first released in cinemas on 30th September 2021.

All text. Copyright © 2021 Mark Cerulli. All rights reserved.



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