No Time to Die Review (No Spoilers)
If you have seen the movie already, you can see a review with spoilers here.
I had been very excited to see this Bond film since I saw the first trailers in early 2020. The glimpses we saw showed us that this film would be an epic grand finale that tied together all the previous four films of the Daniel Craig era. After two delays, the film finally released in October 2021. No Time to Die definitely lived up to my expectations and combined aspects of the older and current Bond films to deliver what I thought was the best Bond film yet.
First off, if you have a theater that supports the 4DX format near you, I definitely recommend seeing it this way. 4DX is a very immersive way to view movies with moving chairs, air jets, smoke and weather effects, and smells. 4DX also naturally comes with 3D. Unfortunately for this Bond film, the 3D effects were done in post-processing, so it isn’t real 3D from the point of being filmed in 3D from the start like Avatar. Even though the 3D was done in post-processing, some of the scenes do benefit from this effect well, and it was cool that this is the first Bond film that has offered a 3D format.
I would also like to re-watch the film in IMAX. I believe that this is the first Bond film to use this format, and director Cary Fukunaga shot about 40 minutes of footage with 15/70 mm IMAX film cameras. Unfortunately there were only 8 IMAX cameras of this type at the time and most of them were being used by Christopher Nolan for Tenet, but as far as display quality goes this should be the best bet out of all the formats.
Cinematography and Sound Design
This film has some amazing sets, especially the portion filmed in Matera. The scenes before the title sequence are extremely memorable. Cary Fukunaga did an excellent job capturing all the actions and emotions of each scene and I was thoroughly impressed with his cinematic visions for Bond.
The title sequence was beautifully animated, with the symbolism blending ancient concepts with the new to convey the film’s main story. Billie Eilish’s vocals also had even more of an emotional impact than I expected in the theater, especially due to the perfect timing of where they chose to cut to the title sequence.
Although I’m not an expert in the coloring process of films, I liked how the visuals were represented throughout and the overall color tone of the movie. I don’t know how to exactly describe it but it felt very unique when presented.
Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack adds heavily to the emotion of this film. Fans that have watched the previous Bond films will also recognize a newer rendition of an older soundtrack, a nice surprise while watching.
I was really captivated by the plot of this film because it really showed an emotional side of Bond that had not been displayed before. The relationship between Madeleine and Bond is displayed very well here while it wasn’t as convincing in Spectre.
We were shown a lot of different characters in the trailer and it seemed like it may have been a lot to work into one film, but they are balanced properly for the most part. Nomi was a great counterpart to Bond throughout and Paloma shares a short but intense moment with Bond. M has become more serious with each film since Skyfall and you can tell that the character is conflicted with the tough decisions that he has to uphold.
The main issue I had with the plot is that they didn’t show enough of the main villain. Safin is a complex and tormented figure, and throughout the film we learn more about his connections to Blofeld and Madeleine, as well as his various motivations. However, his time on screen is very short and he doesn’t really appear too much until the end. I thought that both Safin and Blofeld were portrayed excellently in this film and given great dialogue, but it would have been better if they played a larger role. The threat Safin poses to the world is palpable, but the plot would have benefited if he was introduced earlier and had more backstory. The writers were definitely going in the right direction with his relationship to Blofeld and Madeleine, but it wasn’t expanded upon enough.
Another unavoidable problem was that No Time to Die had to conclude the plots established in the first four films. I feel that the producers made a mistake in Spectre by linking all of the Craig films together. Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace don’t really belong in the same world as Skyfall and Spectre. I think it would have been better if Skyfall was a standalone series and Spectre was the prequel to No Time to Die. However, the choice to combine all the films did let the writers incorporate Vesper Lynd into No Time to Die, placing some emotional weight on Bond’s past. For what they were given, I think they concluded the series well.
One cool thing about this film is that Bond uses advanced gadgets like the pre-Craig era, while also incorporating the more serious feel of the previous Craig films. Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace were great, but I felt that Q wouldn’t have fit into those movies, so I was glad that they brought him back in Skyfall. However, in Skyfall or Spectre, he didn’t give Bond anything exceptionally advanced. In No Time to Die we get to see unique Q gadgets like the pre-Craig era films.
Overall, No Time to Die was a very great movie and combined the best of the previous Bond films together for an excellent film experience. The action is ongoing from the very beginning to end but yet the film managed to be the most emotional Bond film at the same time.
I think the impressiveness from its emotional impact can be seen in a quote from actress Léa Seydoux, who plays Madeleine Swann:
“There’s a lot of emotion in this Bond. It’s very moving. I bet you’re going to cry. When I watched it, I cried, which is weird because I am in it.”
This was the first time that I was still thinking about a Bond film days later after I had seen it. Bond films have usually not showcased emotion to this level and they aren’t particularly known for it, but the writers really did an amazing job of it and I hope that the next Bond films have this level of impact as well.
No Time to Die combined the best of multiple aspects to make a great film. Excellent cinematography, great performances by the actors and actresses, an emotional soundtrack from Hans Zimmer and hauntingly beautiful theme by Billie Eilish. It was a beautiful and satisfying conclusion to both this current storyline of Bond and Daniel Craig’s career as Bond.