Thursday, 7 October 2021

David at the Movies: 007 - Worth waiting for?



So – was it worth the 18-month wait? No Time To Die is very much a sequel to Spectre but it also comes with echoes of several other Bonds, including the Lazenby one and You Only Live Twice, which had the creepiest Blofeld (Donald Pleasence).

No Time To Die starts like a Jason Bourne, with our hero enjoying a Caribbean retire-ment with his latest and possibly greatest lady-love, Madeleine (Lea Seydoux), who like James has childhood emotional scars. Bond’s old CIA chum Felix Leiter (who’s been played by almost as many actors as 007 and survived death and amputation) sets him back on the trail of SPECTRE. A visit to Vesper’s grave in Matera, southern Italy (where Mel Gibson filmed his crucifixion movie), pits Bond against a fresh bunch of killers.

The chase is back on. Blofeld (Christoph Waltz gets little more than a cameo) is in jail in England, but there’s a new criminal mastermind at large, Safin (Rami Malek with some Phantom of the Opera scars), who’s got his hands on a killer virus (here’s an echo of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). To say any more would start me on Spoilers.

I hate to say this, but like Connery and Moore, Daniel Craig has ended up showing his age and his weariness with the franchise, although he still cuts the mustard in both the fights and love scenes. Ralph Fiennes looks a bit bored as M. Ben Wishaw gets good screen time as Q, but Miss Moneypenny (Noamie Harris) has been short-changed by the scriptwriters.

At two and three-quarter hours, this is the longest Bond – too long by at least those 45 minutes. The plot is a bit of a mish-mash, and there are some daft CGI gadgets (not quite as daft as the invisible car, but close enough). After all the movies in which 007 has been pitted against Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Safin rather makes him redundant here. In the repetitive shoot-out sequences Bond kills someone with every shot while the enemies always miss. This ‘superhero’ 007 is somewhat out of kilter with the romantically vulnerable Bond, which has been – and still is – the best element of Daniel Craig’s stewardship of the role.

The hallmark of Craig’s movies has been the combi-nation of  spectacular set pieces and elegiac climaxes, and this one very much delivers both of those elements. What next, and who next? I guess we must once more wait and see. To answer my opening question: Yes, No Time To Die was worth waiting for.

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