Thursday, December 16, 2021

Review of NO TIME TO DIE: Bond Bids Bye

December 15, 2021

James Bond (Daniel Craig) had parted in bad terms with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) after an attempt was made on his life by Spectre agents while they were in Italy. Five years later, Bond, now retired from MI6 and working with the CIA, got involved with the case of a kidnapped scientist Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik), who had developed a deadly DNA-based nanobot-technology transdermal poison called Herakles. 

After Herakles was used to commit mass murder at a remote birthday party for imprisoned Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) in Cuba, Obruchev wound up working for Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), a terrorist with a major axe to grind against Spectre for the death of his parents under the hands of Mr. White, Madeleine Swann's father. Bond had to go against all odds to destroy Project Herakles, save the people he loved, and save the whole world.  

A review of "Spectre" (2015) may be in order to refresh one's memory about the characters involved in this direct sequel. It that film, Bond infiltrated Spectre and located their assassin Mr. White before he shot himself. Bond then met Mr. White's beautiful daughter, accomplished psychotherapist Dr. Madeleine Swann. While fighting Spectre and Blofeld together, Bond and Swann fall in love, and happily rode off into the sunset at the end of the film. 

In this sequel, the romantic relationship of Bond and Swann was further explored after a five-year estrangement. As the main (albeit not so impressive) antagonist of this film, Safin now held the destructive power of Herakles and needed to be stopped at all costs. However, for Bond, this was more of a personal mission because Safin also had Madeleine and her young daughter Mathilde (Lisa-Dorah Sonnet) in his clutches. 

All the hallmarks of a Bond film in terms of high-tech spyware and fancy sports cars are all here, as well as the MI6 personnel, M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). Billie Eilish exquisite title song played over the stylish opening credits. At the closing credits, there was Louie Armstrong's "We Have All the Time in the World" (from "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"), strains of which we heard in an early scene.

This is said to be Daniel Craig's final film as Bond, so this is the last time we would see that rough and rugged version of Bond whom Craig rebooted in "Casino Royale" (2005). Despite nailing all the death-defying action sequences, Craig showed more of his vulnerable side here and it was all over his troubled-looking face. That this old 007 was saying goodbye was felt all throughout. A new black female 007 named Nomi (Lashana Lynch) was even introduced. 

Under the direction of Cary Joji Fukunaga, the stunts were all astounding to watch as ever, especially the thrilling motorbike jump and Aston Martin car chase scenes in picturesque Matera, Italy, the stressful chase along the mountain roads of Norway with a child inside Bond's Land Rover, and that awesome Ana de Armas fight sequence as agent Paloma in Cuba. Daniel Craig's sentimental final scene as James Bond amidst a rain of exploding missiles made a most enduring image to remember this film by. 8/10. 

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