James Bond drives a fancy car in the latest 007 movie, “No Time to Die.” The scene is one of many that depict violence and gunplay. What does this say about the future of graphic games?
The No Time to Die is a James Bond film that was released in 2015. It’s about a spy who gets shot and has to escape.
It’s here. James Bond has returned to the big screen after a long hiatus. This was supposed to be Daniel Craig’s last performance as James Bond, the man who famously said that he would sooner slit his wrists than portray the role again.
Craig’s time as Bond has been inconsistent to say the least. He got off to a good start with Casino Royale, but then dragged his feet with Quantum of Solace. However, on Bond’s fiftieth anniversary, the well-received Skyfall was released. Everything seemed to be in order once again. People thought that Craig’s performance as the character in Quantum of Solace would be his last mistake. Then there was Spectre.
Now is the time for No Time to Die. A film that was surrounded by a lot of excitement and controversy.
Bond is living out his happy retirement with Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) in the No Time to Die film, which takes place after Spectre. Spectre assassins make a (very inept) attempt on Bond’s life while on a vacation to Italy.
Bond, who has trust problems, suspects Madeleine of being behind the assassination attempt on his life and chooses to vanish from her life. Bond has been living alone in a lovely beach home in Jamaica for the last five years. Meanwhile, on the orders of a terrorist named Safin (Rami Malek), a gang of armed men attack a secret MI6 facility, seizing a bioweapon and the scientist who created it, Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik).
Bond’s peaceful existence is disrupted when he discovers a smoldering cigar placed in the home by CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). Leiter asks Bond to join him on a mission to apprehend Valdo, who is said to be hiding in Cuba. Bond eventually finds himself drawn back into the espionage game, tuxedo and shaken martinis included. This time, though, Bond will have to collaborate with Nomi, his tenacious 007 successor (Lashana Lynch).
There are five screenwriters credited in No Time to Die, with many more presumably consulted along the line. This happens a lot, particularly with large tentpole movies. This isn’t just about art; there’s a lot of money at stake. The artist seeks artistic fulfillment, whereas investors want a substantial return on their investment. Compromises will be necessary.
What matters most is that the struggle and strife are not shown on television. Unfortunately, with No Time to Die, the sense of “too many cooks in the kitchen” is inescapable. I don’t intend to suggest that there was necessarily internal strife throughout production — though initial director Danny Boyle did depart due to “creative disagreements” — but rather that the picture lacks a cohesive, single vision. The film does not seem to have been directed entirely by an artist. It has the sense of being guided by a committee.
The Bond series isn’t renowned for being high art these days. That is something I am aware of. However, every now and again, a Bond picture emerges that stands out, apparently escaping the franchise’s monotony. From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Goldeneye are just a few examples.
Unfortunately, No Time to Die will not be considered one of them.
The first significant flaw in the picture is its length. It’s the longest Bond film ever, clocking in at 163 minutes. And, although I’m not opposed to a Bond picture with such a lengthy runtime, there’s no need for this one to be this long.
The premise is as straightforward as it gets: a bad guy possesses a weapon of mass devastation, and Bond must stop him. The storyline becomes unnecessarily complex as a result of the screenwriters’ desire to meet the requirements of a Bond film. The story does not follow a logical path. “Bond goes to exotic location A” and then “Bond Goes to Exotic Location B”; “Bond flirts with an attractive woman here”; “we need some product placement over here”; and “now we want to have an action scene here,” etc. It feels like a collection of single scenes cut together, as if the writers had a checklist to go through. Oh, and don’t forget to “finish this story line from the last film.”
This is why Casino Royale was so successful, since it followed Ian Fleming’s original novel’s pattern. Nothing was coerced in any way. The plot moved along well. Rather of continuing on this path, the Bond filmmakers returned to the old cliché of jamming Bond into as many action sequences as possible, with a shaky narrative to tie it all together.
Place Bond in a compelling tale with compelling characters. Allow the action or spectacle to take a back seat. This may seem to be the polar opposite of what a Bond picture should be, but as we saw in Craig’s first appearance, it might work very well.
The pacing of No Time to Die is slow at points, and several sequences might have been cut. Despite the film’s enormous stakes, there is no feeling of urgency. You’re simply waiting for the expected or predictable narrative surprise to occur so that the action can shift to a more intriguing set piece.
Even with Phoebe Waller-participation Bridge’s as one of the film’s numerous screenwriters, the conversation between the characters is unmemorable. It’s not that I expected Bond to breach the fourth wall and say something amusing — though that may not be such a terrible idea — but there’s no really memorable dialogue or banter.
The film’s primary love connection, between Bond and Madeleine, is mostly portrayed via passionate words. Their love for one other isn’t felt; rather, it’s conveyed to us. This may potentially be a problem with Craig and Seydoux’s functional chemistry, but that’s it. It never quite achieves the romantic heights that the producers clearly aimed for.
The primary Bond villain, played by Rami Malek, leaves virtually little impact on the film. Initially, the guy is on a vengeance mission, but later he decides to kill millions of people for whatever reason. He only has two encounters with Bond, both of which occur at the film’s finale.
In a speech that takes much too long to begin, he explains his purpose to Bond. Safin isn’t scary, humorous, or charming in the least. They portray him as a dark mirror image of Bond, but the symbolism is once again TOLD to us rather than seen. Safin also has a relationship with Madeleine that seems to exist only to allow Madeleine to be reintroduced into the narrative.
If you’re expecting for Christoph Waltz to reprise his role as Blofeld, don’t hold your breath. Waltz basically sits in every scene he is in. (While many panned Waltz’s performance in Spectre, I believe he is much more commanding here than Malek.)
In case you didn’t know, No Time to Die has been the subject of some “controversy,” with many fans fearing that this Bond film will be driven by ostensibly “woke” politics. There was the involvement of feminist actor/screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the script process (though her involvement was greatly exaggerated), rumors that this would be a Bond film for the Me Too generation, and confirmation that Bond would no longer be Agent 007, but would be replaced by a strong Black woman.
Despite the fact that the film had not yet been released, many people had already declared it a failure. They couldn’t stand it when Bond wasn’t being misogynistic. These fears turned out to be entirely unjustified.
Apart from the conclusion, the film doesn’t deviate much from the Bond template – it’s as subversive as a Snickers bar. It’s a safe, by-the-numbers Bond movie that strives to satisfy. Personally, I’d like to see a Bond film that takes real jabs at the character. (Better better, make me an overly PC Bond so I can enjoy reading all those venomous comments.)
Nomi, portrayed by Lashana Lynch, is the new 007 in question. She does a good job in the part, and I like her chemistry with Bond – she also gets the greatest kill in the movie. Despite the fact that their mutual regard seemed to be hurried. It would have been great if the whole movie was a buddy movie, but the producers didn’t have time for that, even with a runtime of over two and a half hours.
Jeffrey Wright returns as Felix Leiter, but he doesn’t receive much screen time. Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris, and Rory Kinnear all offer solid assistance.
The majority of the new characters fail to create an impact. Logan Ash, a nefarious CIA operative, is played by Billy Magnussen (who recently portrayed a young Paul Gualtieri). Primo (Dali Benssalah), a henchman with a bionic eye, seems to be there only to allow Bond to make eye jokes.
Only Ana de Amas’s performance as agent Paloma stands out among the new characters. Her part is essentially a cameo, but it’s entertaining nevertheless. She portrays a rook who is giddy with anticipation on her first assignment. To be honest, I would have preferred to watch a film about her.
Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack includes some plagiarized material from his own work. Don’t be shocked if you hear musical cues that seem like they came directly from Christopher Nolan’s film The Dark Knight. Aside from that, I don’t recall the score being very noteworthy. It sounded like generic Bond at moments, and generic Hans Zimmer at others.
The action is good, but not very bloody. None of the set pieces are especially memorable, with the exception of a spectacular leap from a bridge and a fight in the Norwegian wilderness. There’s also a grating dependence on a popular fight-scene editing technique of concealing cuts and sewing them together to make the action seem like one continuous shot. It’s during times like this that I wish I was watching John Wick.
No Time to Die also contains a lot more comedy, which I liked at first. I’ve always liked Bond who isn’t so serious. In a universe reminiscent of Jason Bourne, I don’t believe the character works well. Roger Moore’s self-awareness was my favorite. The jokes, on the other hand, seem forced or out of place. They sometimes throw a few jokes at Craig that appear to be right out of Roger Moore’s period. It makes the tone seem a little off at times. To be fair, the movie doesn’t go too far with it. It’s still a “serious Bond picture,” but the comedy falls flat for the most part, with the exception of Ana de Armas’ character.
No Time to Die isn’t completely pointless. It seems to be really beautiful. Bond travels to numerous exotic locations, with director Cary Joji Fukunaga and cinematographer Linus Sandgren ensuring that everything looks stunning on film. In contrast to Spectre, Daniel Craig seems to be much more engaged in the role. In Spectre, his somber or uninterested portrayal bordered on open disdain towards the subject. It’s obvious that he was more enthusiastic about this Bond project than the others.
The movie also takes a surprising turn at the conclusion, which I won’t reveal here, but it is very remarkable given all of the safe decisions that came before it. It would have been more powerful if I had cared more about the characters, but they accomplished something new nonetheless.
In the same way that Pierce Brosnan’s first excursion as James Bond was the best, Daniel Craig’s first appearance as James Bond was the best. Thankfully, Craig’s last film is a far cry from the wacky abomination that was Die Another Day. Craig, at the very least, leaves the job with dignity. I suppose that’s something.
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