Film and drama Opinion

WHAT'S ON: No Time To Die — a Bond farewell

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Having left active service, James Bond must come out of retirement to stop a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. Digital editor Dan Jensen checks out the latest in the Bond franchise and the final one for Daniel Craig.

NO TIME TO DIE is the concluding chapter to the Daniel Craig-era Bond films, that started with the gritty reboot, Casino Royale, in 2006. Gone was the campiness of the previous films in the franchise, the one-liners and much of the over-the-top gadgetry to make way for a more realistic Bond.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, this latest instalment retains the more serious tone of the past few films but has moments where it drops its guard and lets the fun shine through. The plot is typical Bond fare — a villain with facial scars wants to unleash a techno-virus that will wipe out millions of people and it’s up to 007 to stop him, with the climax taking place on a remote island facility. But there is far more melodrama involved this time around, with the continuation of Bond’s relationship with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux, reprising her role from 2015's Spectre), now with a daughter who may or may not belong to James.

No Time To Die offers everything Bond fans want to see — gorgeous scenery from around the world, white knuckle action scenes along with eye candy assassins and cars. Tying up several plot threads from the previous Daniel Craig films, we see the return of Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter along with Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris among others. Since Casino Royale, the Bond franchise has been serialised and it definitely pays to brush up on the previous four films as there are a lot of references to prior events and characters that affect the plot of this latest chapter.

Daniel Craig delivers yet another terrific performance as James Bond, proving why he’s the favourite to many fans of the series. Another highlight is the introduction of Ana de Armas to the franchise as CIA operative Paloma, a feisty agent who plays a key role in Bond’s mission. While she doesn’t have a lot of screen time, her role is memorable and it would be great to see her come back in the future.

The film also features Lashana Lynch as MI6 agent Nomi, also known as the new 007. While this was a highly controversial choice at the time news broke, the way this is incorporated into the story is actually very well done and provides Bond with a decent amount of motivation to save the day. Fans can relax — the post-credit assurance that ‘James Bond will return’ is still there.

No Time To Die also features Rami Malek as the film’s central villain, Lyutsifer Safin. Introduced at the start of the film in a rather tense flashback scene, it’s unfortunate that Safin becomes one of the weakest Bond villains ever committed to screen in terms of character. There’s just nothing memorable about him or anything that makes him rise above being a generic action movie bad guy. One of the biggest flaws in the Craig-era Bond films is that since Casino Royale’s Le Chiffre, the villains have had none of the charisma we’ve seen in past films and Malek’s antagonist is no different.

This leads to the only other criticism of the film — the tone feels a little unbalanced when it tries to inject some of the old-fashioned Bond fun. Casino Royale got the balance perfect, giving us a serious Bond but with some fun excitement. In No Time To Die, there are a few moments where 007 cracks a one-liner but it stands out like an olive in a martini glass. It will be interesting to see where the franchise heads with a new Bond now that Craig has retired and what sort of tone future films will have.

Overall, this is not only a solid entry into the Bond series but a fine way to end the run of the actor who has played the role the longest, with films spanning the course of three decades. From the stunning opening credit sequence set to a theme song by Billie Eilish to the jaw-dropping finale, fans will not be disappointed. Filled with twists and turns and some truly emotional scenes, No Time To Die is an entry in the series that stands out as one of the best.

No Time To Die opens in cinemas across Australia tomorrow, 11 November.

You can follow digital editor Dan Jensen on Twitter @danjensenmovies or check out his YouTube channel, Movie Talk with Dan Jensen.

Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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