Sunday, January 30, 2022

007 James Bond: No Time to Die


Based on the novels and characters by Ian Fleming, No Time to Die is the story Agent 007 James Bond as he is coaxed out of retirement to deal with an evil figure following the kidnapping of a scientist. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and screenplay by Fukunaga, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge from a story by Fukunaga, Purvis, and Wade, the 25th film in the James Bond film series follows the British secret agent dealing with a new world and new foes as he struggles to try and find a life outside of his majesty’s secret service as he is portrayed by Daniel Craig for his fifth and final outing as 007. Also starring Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas, Jeffrey Wright, David Dencik, Dali Benssalah, with Christoph Waltz as Blofeld and Ralph Fiennes as M. No Time to Die is a riveting and mesmerizing film from Cary Joji Fukunaga.

Five years following an assassination attempt in Italy, James Bond is coaxed out of retirement to find a scientist as it leads to something much bigger involving a mysterious figure who has gained access to biochemical weapons that would go after specific targets. It is a film in which the secret agent doesn’t just deal with a new foe who wants to go after Bond but also those close to him as well as his enemies including Ernst Stavros Blofeld whom had been involved in not just the assassination attempt on Bond but also another incident several years prior that involves this madman in Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) who has a major grudge against Blofeld and his organization in Spectre. The film’s screenplay opens with a scene involving a young Madeleine Swann (Coline Defaud) who witnesses the murder of her mother (Mathilde Bourbin) and her own near-death experience from Safin as it then cuts to her as an adult (Lea Seydoux) who is vacationing with Bond in Italy where things went wrong as Bond believed that Swan betrayed him to Blofeld.

Much of the story takes place five years after Bond’s assassination attempt as he had retired in Jamaica when Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) asks for his help following a break-in at a MI6 lab where the Russian scientist Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik) had been kidnapped as he had created a bioweapon with nanobots for MI6 called Project Heracles that was intended as an off-the-books project in the hope that it would kill intended targets. Instead, it goes in the wrong hands where M sends Nomi (Lashana Lynch) who is the new 007 to Cuba where Bond meets the novice CIA agent Paloma (Ana de Armas) who helps him retrieve Obruchev to Leiter but something goes wrong due to Leiter’s new partner Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen) who causes trouble for Bond and Leiter leaving Obruchev to escape. The second act revolves around not just revelations for Bond about Swann, who gets an unfortunate meeting with Safin, but also what happened in Cuba in what Bond and Paloma saw as the former meets with Blofeld as they both learn that they have a shared enemy. Yet, Bond’s journey leads him back to Swann who has another surprise that only add more stakes to what Bond is facing as well as what Safin is planning in the film’s third act.

Cary Joji Fukunaga’s direction definitely has an air of style in the way he presents the different locations Bond is in but also a world that is about to be in danger once again as Bond has to save it. Shot on various locations in Norway, Italy, Jamaica, the Faroe Islands, and London with some bits shot in Pinewood Studios in Britain. Fukunaga definitely plays into a spy that has been through a lot but he is also coping with loss and betrayal as he is unsure about returning to the world in general as it is often ever-changing. Fukunaga does make the sets feel important such as the scenes at Matera in Italy that includes a big chase scene that is captured through wide and medium shots where Bond and Swann are dealing with cars and motorcycles with the Aston Martin DB5 being the weapon to deal with these assassins. The scenes set in Cuba that were shot on location at Pinewood are also filled with these medium and wide shots but also this sense of movement and where the cameras are placed as it adds that air of location where there are moments of humor from Paloma but also moments that play into the suspense.

There are also close-ups in some of the film’s emotional moments where Fukunaga play into Swann’s own fear as it relates to Safin but also this meeting between Bond and Blofeld as it adds a lot of suspense and drama. Fukunaga definitely aims for something straightforward for these non-action scenes that also includes the scene where Bond discovers a major secret from Swann which add a lot of what is at stake for Bond. Notably as Safin is someone whose background as it relates to his family and what they’ve done for Spectre shows exactly why he wants revenge and sees Bond as an equal in the fact that they’re both killers yet Safin is just trying to tidy things up for a new world. Fukunaga’s approach to Safin’s island and the factory/lab he has definitely echoes a lot of Bond films of the past while he also creates some unique tracking shots for a key scene up the stairs where Bond deals with Safin’s soldiers. The film’s climax is immense with a lot at stake but there is so much more as it relates to not just the world in general but also Bond himself as it relates to Swann as well as everything he had went through. Overall, Fukunaga crafts an exhilarating and gripping film about a spy who deals with a new foe who is creating a bioweapon that would wreak havoc on the world.

Cinematographer Linus Sandgren does incredible work with the film’s cinematography with its usage of low-key lights for some of the interior/exterior scenes in Cuba to the natural lighting for scenes in Italy as well as some stylish interior lighting for the scenes at Safin’s island. Editors Elliot Graham and Tom Cross do amazing work with the editing with its usage of jump-cuts and rhythmic cuts as well as knowing when to let shots linger as well as to help create suspenseful moments. Production designer Mark Tildesley, with set decorator Veronique Melery and senior art director Mark Harris, does brilliant work with the look of the cabin home that Madeleine lived in as a kid as well as Safin’s island as well as his lab and factory. Costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlab does excellent work with the costumes from the clothes that Bond wears as well as some of the stylish clothing of Nomi and Swann and the robes that Safin wears.

Hair and makeup designer Mark Phillips, with prosthetic makeup designer Brian Gower, does fantastic work with the look of Safin from his disfigured look as well as the look of Blofeld following what happened to him previously. Special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, along with visual effects supervisors Yael Majors and Charlie Noble, does terrific work with the effects from the stunt work and set pieces as well as some of the visual effects that involve some of the bioweapon that Safin is developing. Sound designer Brian Bowen, with sound editor James Harrison and Oliver Tarney, does superb work with the sound in the way some of the gadgets sound as well as the way explosions sound and other sparse moments.

The film’s music by Hans Zimmer is phenomenal for its soaring orchestral-based music score that also feature elements of other compositions of past movie themes including the song We Have All the Time in the World from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service while the titular song by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell that is performed by the former is this moody and somber song that is actually a really good song that does play into the drama. Music supervisor Randall Poster does create a wonderful soundtrack that includes We Have All the Time in the World as well as a French pop song from Dalida and some reggae for scenes in Jamaica.

The casting by Debbie McWilliams and Jemima McWilliams is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles from Hugh Dennis and Priyanga Buford as a couple of scientists who worked with Obruchev, Mathilde Bourbin as Madeleine’s mother, Coline Defaud as the young Madeleine, Dani Benssalah as Safin’s henchman Primo who wears a mysterious fake eye, and Lisa-Dorah Sonnet as a young girl named Mathilde. Billy Magnussen is terrific as the CIA agent Logan Ash who is Leiter’s assigned partner who annoys both Bond and Leiter as he has ulterior motives of his own. Rory Kinnear is superb as M’s chief of staff Bill Tanner who aides Bond in getting the chance to interrogate Blofeld as he also question M’s motives over the Heracles project. David Dencik is excellent as the Russian scientist Valdo Obruchev who created Heracles as someone who is this slimy yet comical villain who is willing to help Safin. Ana de Armas is fantastic in her brief role as the novice CIA agent Paloma who helps Bond in retrieving Obruchev as she has some funny lines while also being a total badass as she is just so fun to watch.

Christoph Waltz is brilliant in his brief role as Ernst Stavros Blofeld as the head of Spectre who is in prison as someone who is still running his operation as he becomes aware that he and Bond have a shared enemy as he also toys with Bond about Bond’s own motives. Ralph Fiennes is amazing as M as the head of MI6 who is reluctant to have Bond back on board while also revealing about his intentions for Heracles as he realizes that it was a bad idea as he hopes Bond can stop it from happening. Jeffrey Wright is incredible as Felix Leiter as a CIA agent and Bond’s friend who coaxes Bond out of retirement as he is aware of what Obruchev has created and hope that the project is stopped as he is also suspicious about Ash whom he’s not fond of. Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw are remarkable in their respective roles as M’s secretary Moneypenny and the quartermaster Q as the two who stick by Bond with the former being a no-nonsense secretary who knows something is up and wants Bond to handle while the latter brings a lot of wit as someone who has a love-hate relationship with Bond as he would also uncover some deep secrets that involve Safin.

Lashana Lynch is phenomenal as Nomi as the 007 who Bond meets in Jamaica as he sees her as a threat of sorts though he realizes that she is a damn good spy as well as someone who doesn’t take any shit as Bond is aware of her worth. Lea Seydoux is tremendous as Dr. Madeleine Swann as a psychiatrist who is carrying secrets about her own past and her time with Safin as well as something that adds to the stake where Seydoux brings a lot of complexity to the character that play into a woman filled with regret and loss but also some hope for Bond. Rami Malek is sensational as Lyutsifer Safin as a madman who is trying to destroy Spectre as well as see Bond as a threat as he has this creepy presence to him as someone who wants to clean up the world but through nefarious means. Finally, there’s Daniel Craig in an outstanding performance as James Bond as the famed spy who is eager for a life outside of being in her majesty’s secret service only to deal with a much more sinister plot as Craig maintains that brooding persona but also someone who has humor and knows what is at stake as it is a fitting finale in the famed role as Agent 007.

No Time to Die is a sensational film from Cary Joji Fukunaga that features a tremendous performance from Daniel Craig in his final outing as James Bond. Along with its ensemble cast, riveting suspense and action, high-grade stakes, gorgeous visuals, and an incredible music score and soundtrack. The film isn’t just this sprawling and eerie spy-suspense film but also a film that plays into a man having to save the world with much more for him to deal with as it is also one of the finest films of the James Bond film series. In the end, No Time to Die is a spectacular film from Cary Joji Fukunaga.

James Bond Files: The EON Films: Dr. No - From Russia With Love - Goldfinger - Thunderball - You Only Live Twice - On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Diamonds are Forever - Live and Let Die - The Man with the Golden Gun - The Spy Who Loved Me - Moonraker - For Your Eyes Only - Octopussy - A View to a Kill - The Living Daylights - Licence to Kill - GoldenEye - Tomorrow Never Dies - The World is Not Enough - Die Another Day - Casino Royale - Quantum of Solace - Skyfall - SPECTRE

Non-EON Films: Casino Royale (Climax! TV Episode) - Casino Royale (1967 film) - Never Say Never Again

Bond Documentaries: Bond Girls are Forever - True Bond - Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007

Cary Joji Fukunaga Films: Sin Nombre - Jane Eyre (2011 film) - (Beasts of No Nation)

© thevoid99 2022


Birgit said...

This film devastated me. It is great and the acting is superb but I was in disbelief at the end. You gave a great review showcasing all the elements that goes into a film. I love Felix who is one of my favourite recurring characters as well as Q. For the new Bond, I hope they pick Henry Cavill.

Ruth said...

Great, in-depth review as always! I'm still not fond of the Bond kid idea but overall this is a terrific send-off for Craig. He's gonna be a tough act to follow.

Love Lynch and deArmas here and Christoph Waltz actually impressed me more here than the whole time he was in SPECTRE. This movie further proves that Cary Joji Fukunaga is a force to be reckoned with.

thevoid99 said...

@Birgit-I'm aiming for a black James Bond as I want Idris Elba to be Bond unless they need someone younger as Chiwetel Ejiofor or David Oyelowo would be great choices.

@Ruth-I have no issues with the Bond kid at all as it just added more to the stakes. It just reminded me of Commando and the lesson I learned in that film. It's one thing to fuck with Bond but if you kidnap Bond's daughter and baby mama.... YOU'RE FUCKED and you're going to need a shitload supply of body bags. I wish I got more Ana de Armas while I'm glad she got the part because Craig enjoyed working with her in Knives Out and paid for her flight to the set despite the minimal training she had for the film.