No Time to Die (12, 163 Minutes)
163 minutes is an awfully long time to die, although not as long as the almost two years we’ve had to wait for this.
With a steely gaze towards the sea, it’s the final curtain for Daniel Craig. Every look, line and emotion tells us that retiring Bond is not an easy decision. 16 years is a hell of a long time, and from the real life injuries he has collected along the way, boy does he know it.
True to the anticipation, this is a deeply personal film, but perhaps not the emotions you would take away from the others.
We kick off with an incredibly strong prologue. Bond has finally decided to let his guard down and shack up with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) for more than five minutes. A record for him. It’s all very romantic and close to the bone with complicated relationships.
Cue some dark secrets and a very annoying hitman with one eye and we’re thrown back into the action.
This catches the attention of Lucyfer Safin (Rami Malek) who, despite some rather unwarranted criticism, emerges as one of the creepiest of all the Bond villains. He’s an assassin turned terrorist with a deranged design for a new Eden. “Here I am, their invisible god, slipping under their skin” he says, sitting with a style somewhere between a Sith Lord, The Phantom of the Opera and Alan Titchmarsh.
I’ll resist leaking any spoilers, but let’s make one thing clear – Freddie Mercury did not create COVID-19.
Craig is magnificent. A triumphant epilogue to his tenure as the secret agent with a licence to kill during which he elevated the role from suave, debonair and unflappable to gritty, flawed rebel who, but for Judi Dench, would have almost certainly been a criminal.
Maybe not the former naval commander envisaged by creator Ian Fleming, but certainly a hero for the times and a refreshing alternative to pumped up super heroes.
The beauty of James Bond over an incredible 59 years on film is that each actor has his era. What happens in that time is specifically confined without any need for continuity when an actor changes. The only thing that will always remain the same is the name, Bond. James Bond.
Picture it like a multiverse. Sean Connery was the Bond who dodged bullets. Craig was the Bond who bruised, bled and grieved.
The next one… who knows? But Craig is going to be a hard act to follow.
There are laughs, shocks and tears. A stunning end to an era. But, as we well know, Bond will always live on in another form.
Who that may be, let’s wait and see, although I’m guessing the decision has already been made.