Bond: NO TIME TO DIE Spoiler-Free Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Bond: NO TIME TO DIE Spoiler-Free Review

Tony’s dying to share – but for now, we’re spoiler-free.
This is a Bond movie that’s been a long old time in coming, because – well, when the world as you know it grinds to a juddering halt, and having people congregate becomes the least responsible thing in the world, it’s gonna hit you right in the wallet if you want people to get together to watch a movie in theatres.

What becomes clear fairly fast when you finally watch No Time To Die is that screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joy Fukunaga, and we suspect most of all Phoebe Waller-Bridge are dangerous prophets from outer space, whose writing should be watched very closely for the next big catastrophe to hit the planet. Maybe next time, Bond will be up against a lunatic who wants to push climate change over the edge? Bond 26 – The World’s Not Hot Enough?

There is, at the heart of No Time To Die, a gloriously sci-fi (but only-just-fi) plot, with a super-MacGuffin that is chillingly believable. Which to be fair, in the history of Bond movies, is an achievement in itself.

There’s also a relatively good reason for why everything happens the way it does, which even other impressive Bond movies like Skyfall can rarely boast.

And for the Bond purists, whether in terms of Fleming’s books or the films that were made of them, there are some extremely pleasing call-backs. In particular, this a film that drips with references to (at least the novel of) You Only Live Twice, and both the novel and the movie of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. There’s even a smidgen of recognizable fun from the novel of The Man With The Golden Gun to whet the appetite of true Bond-fiends.

Without revealing major plot details, there are circumstances here that seem to call for a one-man-against-the-world crusade on Bond’s part, as the events of the Daniel Craig years have left him unsure who his friends and his enemies are, and initial developments here only serve to further muddy those waters.

Ordinarily, that would sound like perfect Bond-fan fodder, no? One man with a gun against the whole world, to save the whole world?

This is not the Bond movie you’re looking for if you come in with those expectations.

It is, however, a much BETTER Bond movie than those expectations would ever deliver you.

Like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (though not EXACTLY like it, obviously), this is a movie that gives James Bond, playboy misogynist, some real consequences to deal with, and more skin in the game than he’s had in decades.

He’s never just one man with a gun in this movie (which given the real world consequences of what individual men with guns have been known to do, is both a wise and a sensitive manoeuvre). When you think the whole world is teaming up against him, there are twists and turns that prove that isn’t true, but you also get Bond’s friends stepping forward to help him against the odds.

That’s pretty remarkable, too. The Bond movie sequence has all too often shown Bond the sociopath, never getting too close to anyone, because he’s been taught from an early age that people die, and it can break you when they do. Bond in the books was a tough man, quick to judge, yes, but never especially an out-and-out sociopath. He has friends, and he frequently forms lasting connections with people. It hurts him when they die.

We’re hoping it’s not TOO much of a spoiler to tell you that people die in this movie. Some you’ll really care about, others you’ll have to stop yourself from cheering at when Bond, in retaliation for their actions, resorts to his cold, calculating killer routine.

But here, Bond is a force tempered by humanity. By REALITY, a thing which is always present in the books, but seldom makes its way onto the screen. The thing the books always make clear is that Bond is a perfectly ordinary – but highly trained – human being. More often than not in the novels, he doesn’t have a grand plan, but scrabbles something together out of sweat, spit, and outright gittish determination at the last moment.

That’s rarely a Bond we’ve seen in the last few decades by virtue of necessity, as the kinds of super-villain that exist have become ever more technological. As M (Ralph Fiennes) opines in No Time To Die, “we used to be able to get into a room with the enemy…”, but as that’s grown less and less the case, Bonds has become more about destroying the apparatus of some grand plan than it has about much more than a couple of scenes of personal interaction with the baddies.

That scrabbling, make-it-up-as-you-go-along version of the orphan spy is a Bond more or less custom-written for Daniel Craig’s acting style. There’s more humour here than usual, without being laugh-riot funny or anything with Roger Moore’s ripe and flavoursome cheesiness. There’s humility, and sacrifice, and that sense that a day at the office couldn’t possibly get any worse. There is a moment when you think the end is absolutely nigh.

All in all, while you could argue it could lose maybe 10-15 minutes in a tighter edit, No Time To Die would lose some of its breathing room if you cut it at all. Again, looking at another favourite Daniel Craig Bond movie, you could cut 20-25 minutes out of Skyfall with almost disgraceful ease, and you wouldn’t necessarily end up with a lesser movie. Here, it would unbalance the tone of the piece – so make sure you have a final pee before you go in to see it.

What else is there to safely tell you? Rami Malek is an interesting Bond villain with a great gimmick and an interesting heritage, but he’s also one of those in the grand tradition of Goldfinger and Blofeld who is in love with his own genius. The realism of the plot here also leaves him without much by way of a final world-ending gambit, though what he does in his last two minutes of screen time has hugely far-reaching consequences, both for Bond and for those who like him.

Lashana Lynch makes for a striking and powerful new member of the team, and repays every moment you spend watching her with enthralling choices.

If you’re looking for a breakout star from No Time To Die though, it’s less likely to be Lashana Lynch than it is to be Ana de Armas, in a 5-minute role that has some of us who watched it demanding an instant spin-off series of movies for her character. Without wading into the whole “Female Bond” debacle, if you want an absolutely kickass female spy who can anchor a whole series of adventures on her own, go with Ana de Amas – both she and her character are absolutely freaking flawless. Even Bond, taken with the effectiveness of her as a colleague, is moved to admit “You were excellent.”

Ben Whishaw is back as Q, and it’s to be devoutly hoped that even though this is Daniel Craig’s last outing in the role of Bond, the back office team may be persuaded to stay in place, because Whishaw, given more to do in this movie than in his previous outings, is sublime to watch and listen to.

Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny too puts in a return appearance, and reveals maybe one of the film’s oddest hitches – its relationship with time. There is at one point a simple “Five years later” sign on screen, which is fine except that nobody seems to change in any way, shape or form, except Moneypenny’s clothes and hairstyle change to be noticeably those you’d expect of someone significantly older than they were when you last saw them.

That’s a thing also echoed by Rami Malek, who interacts with a young girl named Madeleine Swann at the start of the film, and then with her grown-up version played by Lea Seydoux later in the movie, without appearing to have aged at all. This is possibly the only unfortunate aspect of hiring a man who is actually 40 years old, but who has the look of a perma-24-year-old as your Bond villain. He appears to notice time only through the maturation of his plans, rather than in any impact it has on his face or features. Swann grows up enough to need two actresses. Malek stays entirely the same.

Beyond these temporal shenanigans though, No Time To Die is a Bond movie where most everything makes a degree of sense, including some impressive and gut-lurching set pieces, and where you really, truly CARE what happens to everyone – including Bond.

Daniel Craig’s time as Bond has had some triumphs, and a couple of more shrugworthy – if still watchable - films.

In No Time To Die, Craig positively shines, and is given a lot more range to play with, revealing a performance that was always in him, but which he was rarely given sufficient scope to deliver, having to spend too much time in his movies Being Suave.

If you’re going to bow out as Bond, doing it at the end of Skyfall would have been practically perfect. But because this was a movie written with endings in mind, it’s much, much better as a swansong to the Craig era of Bond.

Both affectionately nodding back to the source material and the movies of the past, significantly strengthening the “Bond girl” roles so they belong in the 21st century, and giving Daniel Craig’s James Bond a humanity and a heroism that go beyond anything that every appeared on the page, No Time To Die is a blisteringly good ride, but with much more heart than you may be used to.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at

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