NO TIME TO DIE (2021) – THE NAME IS BOND, “WOKE” BOND

No Time To Die, which for the sake of typing I am going to refer to as NTTD in this post, is a 2021 spy film and the twenty-fifth in the James Bond series. It is the last featuring Daniel Craig play the 007 we enjoyed for such a long time. Sadly, if the woke brigade have their way, it seems like the last time we will see a proper James Bond again. In this film, Bond, who has left active service with MI6, is recruited by the CIA to find a kidnapped scientist, which leads to a showdown with a powerful adversary.

In the past, a young Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) witnesses the murder of her mother by Lyutsifer Safin in a failed attempt to murder her father Mr. White. Madeleine shoots Safin, but he survives. She flees onto a nearby frozen lake and falls through the ice, but he rescues her. In the present, after the capture of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Madeleine is in Matera with James Bond. Spectre assassins ambush Bond when he visits Vesper Lynd’s tomb. Though Bond and Madeleine escape the assassins led by Primo, he believes she has betrayed him, despite her pleas, and leaves her.

Five years later, the MI6 scientist Valdo Obruchev is kidnapped from an MI6 laboratory. With M’s approval Obruchev had developed Project Heracles, a bioweapon containing nanobots that infect like a virus upon touch and are coded to an individual’s DNA, rendering it lethal to the target and their relatives but harmless to others. Bond has retired to Jamaica, where he is contacted by the CIA agent Felix Leiter and his colleague Logan Ash, who ask for Bond’s help in finding Obruchev. Bond initially declines, but after Nomi, an MI6 agent and his successor as 007, tells him about Project Heracles, Bond agrees to help Leiter, over Nomi’s warnings not to interfere.

Bond goes to Cuba and meets Paloma, a CIA agent working with Leiter. They infiltrate a Spectre meeting for Blofeld’s birthday to retrieve Obruchev. Still imprisoned in Belmarsh, Blofeld uses a disembodied “bionic eye” to lead the meeting and order his members to kill Bond with a “nanobot mist”, but it kills all the Spectre members instead, because Obruchev had reprogrammed the nanobots to infect them on Safin’s orders. Bond captures Obruchev and rendezvouses with Leiter and Ash, but Ash, a double agent working for Safin, kills Leiter and escapes with Obruchev.

Moneypenny and Q arrange a meeting between Bond and Blofeld in prison to try to find Obruchev. Safin visits and coerces Madeleine to infect herself with a nanobot dose to kill Blofeld, as she has been in contact with him since his imprisonment. When Bond encounters Madeleine at Blofeld’s prison cell, he touches her and unknowingly infects himself before she leaves. Blofeld confesses to Bond that he staged the ambush at Vesper’s tomb to appear as if Madeleine had betrayed him. Bond reacts by attacking Blofeld, unintentionally causing the nanobots to infect and kill him.

Bond tracks Madeleine to her childhood home in Norway and learns she has a five-year-old daughter, Mathilde, who Madeleine claims is not his. Madeleine tells him that when Safin was a boy, his parents were murdered by her father on Blofeld’s orders. Having avenged them by killing Blofeld and destroying Spectre, Safin continues his rampage with Ash and their entourage in pursuit of Bond, Madeleine, and Mathilde. Though Bond kills Ash and his thugs, Safin captures Madeleine and Mathilde.

Q enables Bond and Nomi to infiltrate Safin’s headquarters in a missile base, converted to a nanobot factory, on an island between Japan and Russia, where Obruchev is mass-producing the Heracles technology so Safin can use it to kill millions of people. Bond kills many of Safin’s men while Nomi kills Obruchev by pushing him into a nanobot vat. Madeleine escapes captivity while Safin releases Mathilde. Nomi takes Madeleine and Mathilde away from the island; Bond stays to open the island’s blast-resistant silo doors. He calls in a missile strike from HMS Dragon to destroy the factory, then kills Safin’s remaining men, including Primo.

Safin ambushes Bond, shooting him several times and infecting him with a vial containing nanobots programmed to kill Madeleine and Mathilde. Despite his injuries, Bond kills Safin after a fight and opens the silos. Speaking by radio with Madeleine, Bond tells her he loves her and encourages her to move on without him. Madeleine confirms that Mathilde is his daughter as Bond says goodbye. Missiles hit the island, destroying the nanobot factory and killing Bond. At MI6, M, Moneypenny, Nomi, Q, and Tanner drink in Bond’s memory. As Madeleine takes Mathilde to Matera, she tells her about her father, James Bond.

The key ingredient of NTTD is it shows two battered human beings threatening to break. Yes, it’s beautiful to look at, with luminous cinematography and thrilling kinetic action. But it thinks a little deeper than the surface gloss of a superficial action romp, holding its gaze on stuff that earlier Bond films didn’t think to show. Where does James Bond go when the film is over? What’s he like on vacation? What’s James Bond like when he’s having fun? NTTD includes Bond movie staples like gravity-defying car chases, ridiculous doomsday weapons and vast brutalist hideouts full of henchmen with silly facial tics to mow down. And it continues the many through-lines from Skyfall and Spectre. NTTD shows Bond living a life away from the banging and crashing, allowing Craig to display more than just a stern look cinched into a suit. We know from previous Bond outings that Craig is utterly assured as the suave secret agent, but we also know from his theater and television work that the man can act. And we know from Knives Out and Logan Lucky that he’s funny.

This unconstrained Bond can be romantic, playful — hell, even a bit camp. At times he’s practically goofing around. Then he’s deeply vulnerable. Then he’s back to business. There’s more than a holster under the tailoring, there’s a rounded human being. This transition from the “blunt instrument” of Casino Royale to a fleshed-out character comes thanks to the people around him, the men and women he loves and respects. Lashana Lynch does well but to all those wanting to see a female Bond, the entire concept is dreadful. Why not create a fresh agent?

A strong female character with her own story without wanting to claim 007’s legacy – woke doesn’t mean using female characters instead of male. It means allowing more roles to be developed for women instead of just reimagining male characters as female. Hopefully Hollywood has sense enough not to indulge in the same but sadly as we see with most new Amazon, Disney or Netflix shows and movies – LGBT and female rebooted movies, even if they don’t make sense – is the trend to make money on these days and since in the end, money is what is worshipped in Hollywood, we can wait for the day to cringe at a female 007 – Jamie Bondie – perhaps who is also a lesbian as apparently every Netflix female character is these days. Anyways, let’s say adieu to one of the best actors to play James Bond – Daniel Craig, and hope Tom Hardy or Idris Elba replaces him. A real 007 fan can hope.

JAY’S VERDICT

Say goodbye in style to Daniel Craig in his final outing as James Bond, even though it isn’t his best.

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