Bond aficionados are likely to be arguing until the end of time on the merits or otherwise of No Time To Die, Daniel Craig’s explosive final outing as Ian Fleming’s timeless 007 super agent. Some see the film as a betrayal and a complete undermining of the character, others see it as a satisfying send-off for perhaps the second-best actor to have donned the famous tuxedo and quaffed the infamous vodka martinis. But whichever side of the fence you fall on there’s no doubt that No Time To Die is a big, ambitious, explosive endgame for Craig’s fifteen-year tenure as Bond. We’re not here to spoil the experience for those who may still not have seen the film but it very much squares the Craig circle, delivering the emotional punch his time in the role has excelled at whilst completing the gradual reintroduction of several of the extremes the series was famed for in the 1960s and 1970s.
Having more or less rounded off Craig’s 007 arc in Spectre, No Time To Die sees old wounds reopened and unfinished business addressed when Bond, living in glorious isolation in Jamaica (appropriately the place where Fleming crafted the original novels) is tempted back into action by his old CIA friend (Jeffrey Wright) to thwart the plans of the sinister (if slightly underused) Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) who has appropriated a lethal new bioweapon called Project Heracles that is coded to an individual’s DNA and infects on touch. Bond’s past catches up with him and the future doesn’t look too bright as friends and enemies old and new close in and around our hero as he races against time to… well, save the world.
It’s a rousing adventure full of the usual 007 derring-do and even if the plot does feel a little as if it’s forcing open a door already satisfyingly closed in the previous film, the story manages to pack an emotional punch that will surprise as many as it annoys. If you’re expecting a slew of warts-and-all behind-the-scenes revelations on this good-looking home entertainment release then you are likely to be a little disappointed. Included are four brief puff pieces featurettes – Anatomy of a Scene (how the impressive bike stunt from the pre-title sequence was achieved in the picturesque but impractical city of Matera in Italy), Keeping it Real (other stunts and action sequences), A Global Journey (filming around the world) and Designing Bond (focusing predominantly on the ground-up construction of Bond’s Jamaican hideaway). They’re all interesting once-only watches, pretty much the domain of the Electronic Press Kit. Much better in Being James Bond, a 45-minute documentary by Baillie Walsh that explores, sometimes quite candidly, the Craig era from the moment his casting was announced (and the subsequent derision he received from Press and fans alike) to the moment he filmed his final scene on NTTD. Packed with terrific unseen footage and reflections on each of Craig’s films (even the derided Quantum of Solace doesn’t come off too badly) the film is punctuated by commentary from Craig and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson; it’s just a shame that Walsh decided to keep them off-screen as there seems to be a relaxed ‘job well done’ chemistry between the three that would have been refreshing to see reflected fully on-screen. Of course, Being James Bond isn’t even exclusive to this release, having already been streamed at the time of the film’s release on Apple TV+ and even screened on ITV in the UK.
Whatever your view of NNTD, it absolutely and undeniably draws the line under a very specific era in the life and times of James Bond. Fans may feel a little short-changed by the slightly perfunctory ‘special features’ but this is a release that will at least allow devotees to complete their collections until the Bond machine grinds into action again and a whole new era begins. James Bond Will Return…
No Time to Die is available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD on December 20th, and via digital rental now.