Starring : Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw and Ralph Fiennes
Directed by: Cary Fukunaga
Rating: 3 stars
Bond’s last outing 'No Time to Die' has everyone wondering what this British Secret Service agent is upto this time. Does he have so much on his plate that he has no time to even “die”? Well, that is, perhaps, the easy explanation that the title may suggest. The truth is, this dapper assassin (Daniel Craig) is ready for another 164-minute-long thriller that includes the regular flamboyance and the grand opulent adventure that any Bond movie is known for. In terms of content though, while one enjoys all the chase sequences, the death defying falls, the crash and the rash to the utmost, is there anything that one has not seen earlier? You decide.
In the midst of all speculation, let me hasten to add that our Bond will never leave us. This one, in particular, may be leading a retired and cushy life in Jamaica, and far from hanging up his boots, he probably waits for yet another adventure to fill his life with all over again. I am going to let fans in on a secret: his near-death experiences make us all agog with excitement, and with the passage of time, he also gets a little sentimental, but when and if, cinegoers assess his roller coaster journey as a never-ending delight, it is with a view to not any finality over his existence!
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga infuses the much-awaited script with the usual action-packed thrills, palpitating chase sequences as also with one of the lengthiest opening preludes which allow the premise to sink in without much ado. Bond (Daniel Craig) is retired and enjoying a tranquil break in Jamaica, and there’s the adversary Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), who doesn’t wince delivering the most diabolic lines while on a revenge mission. What makes him so magnanimously self-assured is his belief that he too, like Bond, is perhaps a hero!
The opening scene has Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) as a child witnessing the murder of her mother by a man named Lyutsifer Safin. She shoots him in retribution, and drags his body out of the house. Surprisingly, he may have been seemingly lifeless, but awakens abruptly as she flees onto a nearby frozen lake - falling below the ice. He almost gets killed by her, but decides to save her life too.
The introductory ground is enough grist for the anticipated encounter with a terrorist, as Bond is beckoned, and his peace seems to be short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter from the CIA turns up asking for help. A kidnapped scientist has to be rescued and that becomes Bond’s mission soon. But this isn’t any other assignment; the treacherous villain is armed with a lethal technology that could destroy everything.
From then on, the tale that gets Bond back into action, is as pacy as it gets. He joins forces with the CIA and heads to Santiago de Cuba. Presently, Swann lives in Italy, and when she and Bond are ambushed by Spectre assassins, she is accused by Bond to have betrayed him. Bond’s new task is to destroy a weaponised virus capable of targeting a specific person’s DNA, bringing Bond back to the fold, for which he gets assisted by the CIA via Felix Leiter and Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen). He’s been replaced at MI6 by a new 007 named Nomi (Lashana Lynch).
So, what’s the difference between this particular Bond and others in the past? None. Save perhaps, his impassive demeanour also has a streak of underlying emotional state that he reveals here. And therefore, his friendship with friend Felix; his yearning for Swann and Vesper, who haunts him and whose grave he visits etc, point out towards a sensitive and reserved hero who’d rather not be demonstrative. And in his final franchise as Bond, Craig shows his usual finesse. I wish I could say the same for the villain Rami Malek – he is too dreary, bland and undistinguished to stand as an opponent to the suave sanguine and self-assured Craig!
Peppered with some rather unusual sorrow, heartbreak, and (sadly!) very little romance and an overdose of subplots that require a full-on attention, the latest Bond film was trying to be different and unusual. Does it succeed? Partially it does as the style and elan linger on even if the plot seems.. ‘done it all, seen it all!