- Film & TV
- 04 Oct 21
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw. 163 mins. Out now.
It’s fair to say the planets aligned beautifully for Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007. In particular, the presence behind the camera of Cary Joji Fukunaga was a mouthwatering prospect. Steadily building one of the most impressive CVs in modern Hollywood, Fukunaga announced his arrival as a singular talent with ‘Who Goes There’ on the first season of True Detective, probably the best episode of TV of the past 10 years.
In amongst his sublimely atmospheric shooting of southern US gothic landscapes, and the unforgettable sequence of an undercover Matthew McConaughey entering a biker bar soundtracked by the Melvins, Fukunaga offered his piece de resistance: a four-minute, unbroken tracking shot of McConaughey escaping a police raid on a drug den with a hostage. Then, of course, there was Fukunaga’s co-writing of the screenplay for the brilliant first instalment of IT, Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s magnum opus.
So, it was always going to be fascinating to see what Fukunaga would do when set loose in the Bond toy-box. And these are certainly expensive toys, with some estimates putting No Time To Die’s budget at an eye-watering $300 million. The good news is it’s all there on-screen, with Fukunaga cranking the energy up to 11.
No Time To Die is, quite simply, a bravura slice of action filmmaking, filled with exhilarating set-pieces: the opening sequence where Lyutsifer Satin (Rami Malek) lays one-man siege to the childhood home of Bond’s love interest Madeleine Swann; an electrifying chase sequence through a medieval Italian town with Bond and the adult Madeleine (Lea Seydoux); a shoot-out in a Cuban nightclub, including a sublime cameo from Ana de Armas as the lethal Paloma; and Satin chasing Bond, Madeleine and Madeleine’s young child through a misty jungle at dusk.
Craig, as ever, is a total badass as Bond: tough, stoical, a hard bastard who gets the job done. The Lee Keegan of secret agents, you might say. He also has a
wonderful chemistry with Seydoux, with Bond’s emotional damage constantly lurking under the surface of their relationship, which would certain provide high level Instagram fodder (“Here’s us in an abandoned Russian nuclear silo, escaping an evil megalomaniac hellbent on world domination, LOL!”).
Indeed, the performances are excellent across the board, whether it be newcomers like Lashana Lynch as Bond’s rival 007 Nomi, or old reliables such as Jeffrey Wright as CIA agent Felix Leiter, Ben Whishaw as Q, or Ralph Fiennes as M.
As with every other Bond movie, No Time To Die isn’t about anything its own suavity and style, with the Proustian nod in Madeleine Swann’s name the only concession to anything approaching depth. Otherwise, the plot – Satin and Spectre using DNA-altering nanotechnology to control half the world’s population (or something) – is merely an excuse to blow stuff up in a variety of satisfying ways.
It’s also about 20 minutes too long, but to be honest, when the spectacle is this marvellous – and when Billie Eilish has contributed one of the great Bond theme songs – there is precious little room for complaint. Indeed, one wonders when we’ll next encounter an action movie as electrifying.
Looks like Tom Cruise has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders with next years dual offerings in the Top Gun and Mission Impossible franchises. Meantime, it’s best to strap on your seatbelt for the thrill ride of No Time To Die.