The Production: 4.5/5
Bond(Daniel Craig) is on a holiday in Italy with the woman who is the one to finally get him over the loss of Vesper Lynd(Casino Royale). Madeleine Swann(Lea Seydoux) is the object of Bond’s affections when SPECTRE attacks and leads Bond to believe that Madeleine has betrayed him. Bond survives the attack, of course, and calls things off with Madeleine.
Five years later, Bond returns from his retirement in Jamaica after Felix Leiter(Jeffrey Wright) of the CIA asks for his help in finding Obruchev(David Dencik), a kidnapped MI6 scientist. It seems Obruchev is the mastermind of Project Heracles, a nanobot-propelled bioweapon that can be coded to attack individuals based on their DNA coding. SPECTRE is particularly interested in this research, and Blofeld(Christoph Waltz) is still leading SPECTRE remotely from his jail cell in a manner that would be the envy of Hannibal Lecter.
Bond soon finds himself up against an enemy which may be more lethal than SPECTRE. Lyutsifer Safin(Rami Malek) turns up again after his preview in the pre-credits teaser, and shows Blofeld and SPECTRE how things are done in villainy. Safin was disfigured in his youth by an attack with toxins that left him the sole survivor of his family, and he wears a mask now to conceal his scars. Madeleine turns up again as well, and the stakes become unexpectedly higher for Bond than they have ever been. Bond is not even code named 007 anymore, as that designation has been inherited by Nomi(Lashana Lynch), and M(Ralph Fiennes) would be happy if Bond would stay retired. Q(Ben Wishaw) and Moneypenny(Naomie Harris) agree to help Bond off the books so that he can confront Blofeld in prison. Rory Kinnear also returns as M’s Chief of Staff, Bill Tanner. New faces include Ana de Armas as Paloma, a colleague of Leiter’s who guides Bond in his efforts to find Obruchev, and Billy Magnussen as Ash, another CIA colleague who thwarts Bond’s efforts.
No Time To Die speeds by in spite of its running time of nearly 3 hours in length, but it seems like a shorter film. In some respects, No Time To Die feels more like a prototypical Bond feature than any of the other Craig films. Every scarred villain must have his own lair, and Safin is no exception. It is not really clear how Safin became stronger and more powerful than SPECTRE, but the engaging twists and turns of the plot encourage you to go with it rather than question it. (If there really were a villain more powerful than Blofeld, shouldn’t Bond have spent the last 4 or 5 films fighting that baddie? It may be best not to think too much about it.) Director Cari Joji Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation) collaborated on the screenplay with Phoebe Waller-Bridge(Broadchurch) and returning Bond scribes Robert Wade and Neal Purvis.
No Time To Die resonates by design with elements from many earlier Bond films, and the film has a number of Easter eggs, some of which I probably missed in my first viewing. The opening credits make a subtle callback to the opening credits in Dr. No(1962), and certain aspects of the plot resemble some aspects of the book version of You Only Live Twice which were never used in the 1967 film of the same name. Eagle-eyed viewers will be attentive to the portraits on display at MI6. No Time To Die leans most heavily onto On Her Majesty’s Secret Service(1969) with its repetition of the legendary line: “We have all the time in the world.” Even the score by Hans Zimmer borrows from John Barry’s original compositions for OHMSS. Long-time fans will understand this as a signal that a happy ending may not ensue. If you are going to pay homage to one of the better films, the producers might have done a lot worse than cribbing from OHMSS.
3D Rating: NA
No Time To Die on 4K UHD and Blu-ray include a reference quality Dolby Atmos English audio by default. Directional audio is exceptional, with every speaker contributing to a rich sound stage. The score composed by Hans Zimmer is served well by this presentation, as is the staccato gunfire and the rumble of missiles, and everything in between. If you are looking for an immersive aural experience, then this one is it.
Special Features: 2.5/5
No Time To Die is a worthy conclusion to the Daniel Craig era. The film itself provide all of the thrills and surprises that one expects in a Bond film, and the video and audio presentations are excellent, with particular emphasis on the excellent Dolby Atmos audio. The special features are not particularly extensive, but all are worthwhile viewing. No Time To Die is one of the most entertaining films of the modern Bond era. James Bond will return, and the sooner the better.
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