No Time to Die review – Daniel Craig dispatches James Bond with panache, rage – and cuddles

By The Guardian via

The long-awaited 25th outing for Ian Fleming’s superspy is a weird and self-aware epic with audacious surprises up its sleeve.

The standard bearer of British soft power is back, in a film yanked from cinemas back in the time of the toilet roll shortage, based on a literary character conceived when sugar and meat rationing was still in force, and now released as Britons are fighting for petrol on the forecourts.

Bond, like Norma Desmond, is once again ready for his closeup – and Daniel Craig once again shows us his handsome-Shrek face and the lovable bat ears, flecked with the scars of yesterday’s punch-up, the lips as ever pursed in determination or disgust.

And Craig’s final film as the diva of British intelligence is an epic barnstormer, with the script from Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge delivering pathos, drama, camp comedy (Bond will call M “darling” in moments of tetchiness), heartbreak, macabre horror, and outrageously silly old-fashioned action in a movie which calls to mind the world of Dr No on his island.

Director Cary Fukunaga delivers it with terrific panache, and the film also shows us a romantic Bond, a uxorious Bond, a Bond who is unafraid of showing his feelings, like the old softie he’s turned out to be.

A queasy and dreamlike prelude hints at a terrible formative trauma in the childhood of Dr Madeleine Swann (a gorgeously reserved Léa Seydoux), that enigmatic figure we saw in the last movie who is now enjoying a romantic getaway with James. But a shocking act of violence destroys their idyll, as we knew it must, and Bond has some spectacular stunts as he hurls himself from a bridge.

It all has a lot to do with a sinister biowarfare plan called “Heracles” being developed by M (Ralph Fiennes) using a renegade scientist Obruchev (David Dencik) – but both creepy boffin and weapon are stolen in a sequence of preposterous action comedy, incidentally involving a sullen, bickering functionary played in cameo by Hugh Dennis.

Both MI6 and the CIA want Obruchev back – but British intelligence does not care to involve Bond who is now in retirement in Jamaica, perhaps in tribute to Ian Fleming’s holiday retreat, and M has handed over his 007 status to a new agent Nomi, stylishly played by Lashana Lynch.

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