When Ian Fleming started writing his James Bond novels in the early 50s, little would he have known that his scintillating brainchild will be singularly responsible for reviving commercial cinema in the world, which has been comatose owing to a pandemic for 18 months. In the latest iteration, No Time To Die, we see Bond (an utterly charming Daniel Craig) living a tranquil life in Jamaica before his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help.
The seemingly simple mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist sends Bond down a rabbithole where he encounters a villain armed with dangerous new technology. What is Project Heracles that Bond has to shut before it obliterates every human being forms the crux of the movie. Is the movie, whose release got delayed thrice, worth the wait?
First things first, Craig is in full form as the dapper, intrepid spy who is entrusted with foiling the evil plans of a creepy, riveting villain (Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin). After spending 15 years as a Bond hero, Craig does show some weariness but also a satisfaction that this is his last movie as the world’s most known fictional spy. While No Time To Die is not as highly entertaining as Casino Royale, it still stands on its feet when compared to near duds like Spectre, Skyfall.
The pre-credits fight sequence in Matera where Bond fights with the baddies was the welcome I needed at the IMAX after 20 months or so. The expertly shot fight sequence in an Italian town with bikes and bullets flying all around is well worth your entry fee. Sadly, the movie goes downhill from there with only tiny, intermittent bursts of excitement to be felt during the inordinately long 161-minute duration.
Cary Fukunaga’s choice as a director, at least on paper, looked very exciting to me. For someone who burst onto the international film stage with a quietly monumental movie like Sin Nombre, I expected to sense some frisson in No Time To Die. However, the movie looked adroitly silly at best. The whole episode in Cuba, involving the feisty Ana de Armas, where we see the typical Bond slambang violence felt empty and oddly hip. Fukunaga was stunning and ingenious as a director in the True Detective series but we rarely get to see that talent on display in No Time To Die. Proceedings get livelier when Lea Seydoux is on screen as Bond’s love interest.
As Madeleine Swann, the French actress comes out of the movie with her reputation unscathed because she simply can’t do any wrong. As someone with a dark childhood, Seydoux gives it all to her properly layered character. Ralph Fiennes as M and Ben Whishaw as Q do their bit to keep the illusion of a post-Brexit UK still being in the thick of geopolitical happenings. Lashana Lynch as Nomi, a new “00” agent, makes us believe that the next Bond can very well be a woman and it’s high time that happened. Hans Zimmer’s propulsive background score keeps the movie pulsating, especially in the stunning Norway sequence in the pre-climactic part.
All said, it was a truly wonderful experience to return to the cavernous IMAX screens and let ravishing visuals take me over into another world at least for fleeting moments of sheer stupefying brilliance. What more, PVR has cut down on its number of ads during a screening, which has been a constant pet peeve of mine with regard to this particular multiplex. It took a pandemic for a multiplex to stop bludgeoning its viewers with 40 minutes of advertisements.