By Libbi Kettle
The highly anticipated 25th adaptation of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series was finally released to our big screens on September 30th. More than a year after its initial release date (April 2020) due to the pandemic, we are delivered the epic conclusion of Daniel Craig’s successful run as 007. It has all the ingredients for a box office hit; a villain played by Oscar winner Rami Malek, a script partly written by the brilliant Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Killing Eve) and a chart-topping theme song performed by the 19-year-old star Billie Eilish. To top it all off, it’s directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who also helmed Jane Eyre and Beasts of No Nation.
The movie kick starts with an opening scene jam-packed with suspense and mystery, immediately drawing you into the story line. And of course, we are given the famous gun barrel sequence that is a beloved part of the Bond franchise canon; performed for the last time by Craig. It then brings us back to where Spectre left us; Bond and his new love Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) driving away into a seemingly ‘happy ever after’. But this is Bond, and just as expected we are thrown a dramatic and unexpected turn of events that lead to the parting of the two lovers. And so, Bond is left alone to spend his days back in Jamaica, until his replacement, Nomi (Lashana Lynch), shows up, taking him back to London to his true calling in Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
We also see the return of Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and of course Ben Whishaw as Q. No Time To Die also welcomes new characters. Lynch puts on a talented performance as the first female 007 due to Bond’s retirement at the end of the last movie and the friendly competition between the two agents is enjoyable to watch. The film also features a short yet sweet cameo by Ana De Armas, who also starred alongside Craig in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out (2019). Although her screen time is not as long as the trailers and posters advertised, the few scenes she did appear in were some of the best in the film. Then of course we have the villain, Lyutsifer Safin, a deranged man who has a goal to release chaos on the world and must be stopped. There’s no doubt Rami Malek puts on a talented portrayal as Safin, although personally I felt the character itself lacked depth and could have been given a more fleshed out story. The movie focused a lot on Bond himself and saying goodbye to Craig, which perhaps lost time to get to know the villain like we have in the past, leading to a sense of detachment. I also felt that the first half of the film had a more effective flowing pace than the second. With the first we are engrossed; we are directed into this deep story line of Bond himself. The second half is almost too full of tying up loose ends of this mini saga that albeit enjoyable, feels perhaps a little crowded. What remained at a very high standard throughout was the different yet intimate cinematography. It brought us closer into the action and subconsciously made us feel physically closer to Bond, especially throughout his main mission till the ending which left the cinema in shock and silence.
Despite the overall mixed reviews the film has received, it is certain that Daniel Craig puts on an excellent front for his final appearance as James Bond, parting the franchise with one of his best performances to date. It certainly leaves very big shoes to fill for the next actor that will take on the role.