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No Time to Die
Review by Rich Cline | MUST SEE
dir Cary Joji Fukunaga
prd Barbara Broccoli, Michael G Wilson
scr Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
with Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Lea Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas, David Dencik, Rory Kinnear, Dali Benssalah
release UK 30.Sep.21,
21/UK Universal 2h43
Is it streaming?
More epic drama than raucous spy adventure, this beefy thriller is a terrific cap on Daniel Craig's five-film series as 007. Filmmaker Cary Fukunaga keeps the focus on characters, which gives the action and suspense a startling edge, because people we care about are in real peril. And while the film is still packed with the expected spy swagger, nutty touches and heart-stopping action, it's also unusually moving.
Five years after retiring to Jamaica, James Bond (Craig) is contacted by old CIA pal Felix (Wright), heading to Cuba to find a rogue scientist (Dencik). He also meets Nomi (Lynch), his replacement at MI6, and back in London uncovers a conspiracy involving a DNA-based virus weaponised by nanobots. Trying to get to the bottom of this, James consults his old nemesis Blofeld (Waltz) while working with his true love Madeleine (Seydoux) and former cohorts M, Q and Moneypenny (Fiennes, Whishaw and Harris). But mastermind Safin (Malek) knows a few secrets Bond hasn't discovered yet.
Fukunaga expertly balances the various elements, shifting from swooning romance to breathtakingly brutal action in a heartbeat. Scenes are packed with humane humour, including sparkling wit and sarcastic insults. Yes, the banter is on point. This attention to detail allows for a deepening of relationships and motives in several characters, although a few remain under-developed. Safin's megalomania is never clearly defined, and while Nomi is a superbly rakish spy, there's not much more to her.
Craig's Bond is scarred and weary, but still has that glint in his eye, especially in wry flirtation with the magnetic Lynch and de Armas (as an ever-surprising Cuban cohort). He also connects Bond's soulfulness with his sometimes shocking brutality. Seydoux is skilfully understated as the sympathetic Madeleine, around whom much of the plot hinges. And Malek brings some vivid psychopathic earnestness to his creepy villain, who of course has a secret island lair.
Aside from the final act's rather annoying grey concrete bunker, the film is set in a very real world, with terrific location work that brings each set-piece to life while nodding knowingly to past films. Even more impressive is how Fukunaga weaves the action beats into the narrative, creating churning tension that continues right through the quieter scenes. This forces the audience to lean into the film, making the characters and situations even more involving. Which in turn gives the screenwriters' bold narrative choices a powerful kick.
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© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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