After sixteen months of waiting, the newest James Bond film, No Time to Die, was released yesterday in cinemas across Britain, with the widest theatrical release of all time with over 700 cinemas showing the flick.
The film has big responsibilities on its shoulders, with cinema execs hoping that it will spur cinema attendance to pre-pandemic levels. The film made £5 million on its first day of release, more than Spectre (2015), but less than Skyfall (2012).
Cineworld Castleford, West Yorkshire invited us to watch the film in their state-of-the-art ScreenX, where you can watch the movie on three screens at 270 degrees. ScreenX draws you into the film on the main screen and immerses you in a virtual reality like setting, with the Hollywood quality that you expect when going to the pictures. A viewing experience that I haven’t had before, ScreenX was a fun and interesting way of watching the newest release. With the ScreenX experience only costing a little more than £3 extra for non-Cineworld Plus members than the traditional showing, it is worth trying.
The fifth-and-final installation of Daniel Craig as 007 is a continuation of the classic action spy film with car chases, guns, and cool spy gadgets but the overall mood has changed. Gone is the overt sexism that has plagued previous films and instead embraces a diverse cast and a more hopelessly romantic side to the licence-to-kill spy.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the film is in keeping with the other Craig Bond films (Casino Royale, 2006, Quantum of Solace, 2008, Skyfall 2012, Spectre, 2015). The film is both deeply personal and international with Bond developing relationships that we haven’t seen before combined with terrorism that will impact the whole world. Scenes of the film were set around the globe, including Jamaica, Cuba, Norway, Italy, and London.
Following the flashback sequence of James Bond’s love and this film’s ‘Bond Girl’, Madeline Swann played by Léa Seydoux, the film sees 007 retired living in Jamacia, in a plush bungalow complete with a pool that is a far cry from the rainy headquarters of MI5 in London.
In Jamaica, Bond is approached by an old friend Felix Leiter played by Jeffrey Wright, an American CIA operative, and a double-crossing agent Logan Ash played by Billy Magnussen to wrangle a Russian scientist played by David Dencik in Cuba that is working on the most sophisticated weapon in MI5’s arson. It is here where he meets the new 007, Nomi, played by actress Lashana Lynch.
Racing Nomi to Cuba, Bond pairs up with a fledgling agent, Paloma, played by Ana de Armas, to track down the rogue scientist. They split up and scour the black-tie event they are attending before the spotlight hits James and other party guests suddenly start to die. Paloma’s stint in the film is short, with only a few minutes at most on screen, but she is a rememberable character, fully competent in keeping up with Bond in a slinky dress and high heels to boot.
Unlike other Bond films which can be watched as a standalone, No Time to Die is a bit confusing to those who haven’t seen the previous films or haven’t watched them since their release. The film references Madeline’s background, with her father being a mysterious figure in Spectre, but doesn’t explain adequately in this film who he is and why he is important.
Rami Malek plays the bad guy, Safin, with the audience first introduced to him in the flashback to Madeline’s past at the start of the film. Safin murders Madeline’s neglectful mother in retribution for her husband killing his family and saves Madeline from drowning when running away from him on a frozen lake that she falls through.
Safin is a classic Bond villain. He plays a nondescript Eastern European with an accent that you can’t place. The reason why he wants to cause global murder is not developed aside from the fact that Madeline’s father killed his family through Spectre.
Safin tracks down Madeline, who is now a psychotherapist, and asks her to do a favour or he will kill the people that she loves. When she explains that everyone she has ever loved is gone, Safin replies that “is not true”. As the audience, we think he is alluding to Bond, which is partially true, but it also relates to her daughter Mathilde, who is revealed later in the film and is around four years old.
The crux of the film is that M played by Ralph Fiennes had developed a biowarfare plan called “Hercules” using permanent “genetic nanobots” that can be edited to kill certain people. This plan is supposed to be the most advanced piece of warfare that MI5 has designed to kill only specific individuals to reduce collateral damage. However, the rogue Russian scientist had stolen this technology and adapted it to kill entire families, people with certain genetic codes, or even entire ethnicities. For reasons the film doesn’t explain, the scientist takes this to Safin who then plans on using this tech to try and kill millions of people across the world.
Safin abducts Madeline and Mathilde from their home and takes them to his remote island. Bond and Nomi tracks Safin down, kills his army including the rogue scientist, recover Madeline and Mathilde and shut down the nanobot farm.
The final few minutes of the film is equal parts emotional and explosive, sending Craig’s Bond out on a high. Overall, the film is refreshing. It has done away with tired stereotypes and tropes and instead revealed a more intimate side of the spy in a way that has never been considered before. The film also sets itself up for a new Bond, that perhaps may even be Nomi.
Feature image: MGM.