IANS Review: ‘No Time To Die’: Visually brilliant but convoluted narrative

By Troy Ribeiro
Film: No Time To Die (Running in Theatres)

Duration: 163 minutes

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Winshaw, Jeffery Wright, Ana de Armas, Billy Magnussen, Christoph Waltz, Naomie Harris and Rory Kinnear.

Rating: ***

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s ‘No Time To Die’ is the franchise’s twenty-fifth film and marks Daniel Craig’s fifth and final turn as the secret agent, James Bond.
Visually, the film is a brilliant piece of action drama that takes place in a generic but convoluted spy narrative where Bond is pulled into action to save the world, the love of his life Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), his daughter Mathilde (Lisa-Dorah Sonnet), and himself.
The world is a under a threat after a scientist, Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik), is kidnapped. Obruchev had developed Project Heracles – a weapon of mass destruction where the bioweapon contains nanobots that spread like a virus upon touch and are coded to specific DNA strands. They can be dangerous only if programmed to the specific individual’s genetic code.
Bond, who is in both hiding and retirement on a remote tropical island, is drawn back into action. He joins forces with the CIA, and heads to Santiago de Cuba, where SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion) is holding a kind of underworld convention. Soon, Bond realises that the task is not as simple as it seems, especially after he accidentally kills Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), his arch-enemy and foster brother, and is made to believe that he was infected by Madeleine.
When he tracks down Madeleine, he realises that she is being hounded by Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), an adversary of Bond and Madeleine, and a terrorist leader on a revenge mission. How he lands up in Lyutsifer’s remote island to battle him and devolves into a sideshow of resigned fate, forms the crux of the narrative.
Daniel Craig as James Bond is suave, stylised and brilliant in a way that outshines everything else around him. Unlike his previous avatar of a flippant killing machine and womaniser, here he displays an ocean of battered emotions trying to reach the surface. And your heart reaches out to him when he sees Mathilde and comments that her eyes are like his.
Lea Seydoux as James Bond’s love interest, Madeleine Swan, has more to offer than many leading ladies in the franchise have ever been able to.
Safin with his facial disfigurement is played to the brutal hilt by Rami Malek. He makes his creepy presence felt in the drama with his mottled skin and the caressing voice of a depraved monk.
There are many returning characters in this edition too, but Ben Whishaw as the gadget guy ‘Q’, with his hairless cat on his home turf, is prominent and noticeable.
The new cast members include Dali Benssalah, playing Safin’s henchman; Ana De Armas as Paloma, a feisty CIA agent in Cuba; David Dencik as the Russian scientist Valdo Obruchev; and Lashana Lynch as Nomi, the secret agent who has taken on the 007 moniker, ever since Bond retired. They all have their moments of on-screen glory.
The film boasts of some fine chases, explosions, stunts, and a big, hour-long finale on Safin’s fortress, but there is as much emphasis on relationships here, their conflicts, complications and complexities, as there is on the fast-moving thrills. The film also shares themes like trust, betrayal, secrets, lies, and a distinct connection or through-line of all the past Bond films. And, most of all, the stars of any Bond film are the exquisite locations. This time they stretch from Jamaica to Norway, Italy and London.
With a run time of two hours and 43 minutes, it is the lengthiest Bond film.

(Troy Ribeiro can be contacted at troy.r@ians.in)

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