James Bond’s Heavy Heart in “No Time to Die” (2023)

A big welcome back to 007. The news is that nothing much has changed, and all the fixtures and fittings are in place. The license to kill, and the supple deployment of weaponry. The occasional whip of a wisecrack. The prime spot in the cockpit of an aircraft. The Aston Martin. The dress sense. The knockout shades. No question about it: she’s the right woman for the job.

(Video) James Bond’s Heavy Heart in “No Time to Die”

As we are reminded by the latest chapter in the franchise, “No Time to Die,” 007 is not a person so much as a designated slot. Once vacated, it fills up like a parking space. Thus, when James Bond (Daniel Craig)—male, pale, and staled by years of trouncing megalomaniacs—goes off the grid, his prized 00 number is taken by Nomi (Lashana Lynch), who is proud, Black, younger than springtime, and much amused by the autumnal state of her predecessor. “You get in my way, I will put a bullet in your knee,” she says to him, adding, “The one that works.” Harsh.

They meet in Jamaica, whither Bond has retired. (Lord knows what he does all day. Maybe he sets off with a pair of binoculars, a packed lunch, and a copy of “Birds of the West Indies,” by James Bond, the American ornithologist from whom Ian Fleming, another Jamaica resident, pinched the name.) Nomi is on the trail of villainy, and Bond has been asked to follow the same scent—not by the British government but by the C.I.A., in the person of Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). Who’d have guessed that the cream of Her Majesty’s spies would end up being milked by Uncle Sam? Is that why the opening credits show the symbolic figure of Britannia, with her trusty shield, falling into a giant hourglass and slipping away into the sands of time?

The film, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, runs almost two and three-quarter hours. That’s a lot of movie, longer than some recordings of the St. Matthew Passion, but Fukunaga has a lot of ground to cover. He begins, if you please, with a flashback to the childhood of a secondary character—not, alas, the infant Q, solemnly building particle accelerators out of Lego bricks, but a young French girl who will grow up to be Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the heroine of the previous Bond adventure, “Spectre” (2015).

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We now learn that Madeleine, as befits her doubly Proustian name, was marked for life by a potent early experience: the slaying of her mother by Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), who has a scratchy voice and an unfortunate skin condition. Later, fulfilling the standard brief of a Bond baddie, Safin will occupy an island lair and hatch plans to dominate the planet. Needless to say, if only our leading nations had clubbed together to buy him a pot of moisturizer, the whole crisis could have been avoided.

At the conclusion of “Spectre,” Bond beetled off toward Big Ben in his Aston Martin DB5, with the adult Madeleine at his side. The new film finds him in the same car, with the same passenger, in a slightly trickier environment: a hilltop town in Italy, with his enemies circling and his bulletproof windows starred but not yet broken by incoming fire. It’s the perfect moment not just for Bond to ask Madeleine, whom he suspects of betraying him, what the hell’s going on but also for Craig, in his last bow as Bond, to demonstrate what he has brought to the role. Relaxed under pressure, and pressurized by the need to relax, he has the action man’s dread of inactivity. Suits and tuxedos don’t really become him, even if they fit him, until they are bloodiedand torn. Craig has been the right Bond for our times, grudging with his charm—barely a virtue nowadays—and nourished by a steady supply of traumas. He has a sense of humor, yet one-liners embarrass him, for the world is too laughably treacherous to be fobbed off with a joke. Even love seems to toughen him up.

(Video) Why No Time To Die is the PERFECT Ending (feat. Daniel Craig) | Video Essay

To whom or what, then, can Bond be true? To his country? Returning to M.I.6, he is obliged to give his name at security and is handed a plastic nametag. On the way out, in the office of Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), he tosses the tag into the trash: a bitter coda to the memory of Sean Connery, deftly lobbing his hat onto the hat stand. Worse still, Bond learns that M (Ralph Fiennes), usually the solid soul of wisdom, has overseen a secret project called Heracles, which will allow Britain’s foes (unspecified, but possibly the European Union, in a war over sausage exports) to be targeted with nasty nanobots. Safin, naturally, gets hold of Heracles, and prepares to unleash it everywhere. It’s up to Bond—with a little help from Q (Ben Whishaw), the Royal Navy, the loyal Nomi, and, yes, a submersible glider—to save the day. Plus, if possible, himself.

There are many surprises in “No Time to Die.” The major ones I would scorn to reveal, even if you trained a laser on my undercarriage or suspended me over a tank of unfed sharks. Less important, but equally unexpected, are the glitches in continuity: Bond driving directly from labyrinthine Italian streets to a railroad station, on the flat, in what looks like another town entirely, or emerging from a foggy Norwegian forest into a nice bright day. A happier shock is the disclosure that Q has a cat, of the hairless variety. (“You know, they come with fur these days,” Bond remarks.) Maybe Q had cats all along—pussies galore!—and kept us in the dark.

The plot, too, is crawling with twists, yet we soon grasp, all too clearly, where it’s heading: du côté de chez Swann. It turns out that Madeleine has a daughter, named Mathilde (Lisa-Dorah Sonnet). “She’s not yours,” Madeleine says to Bond, reassuringly, yet the kid does have blue eyes, like his, and he is so drawn to her that, in the heat of the finale, he—the sort of fellow who used to blow up a volcano before breakfast—pauses to retrieve her knitted toy, Dou Dou, and tucks it into his suspenders. Lucky for Dou Dou, of course, but what does this herald for the brand of Bond? Everyone agrees that the age of the ladykiller is dead, unmourned, but are we ready for Bond the babysitter?

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Fans will fret, and, as if to assuage them, Fukunaga piles on the retro treats: a guest appearance from Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), for one thing, and multiple morsels of Bonds past. As in “Skyfall” (2012), someone is trapped under a frozen lake, and the bunker where Safin breeds his toxins resembles the mega-garage where the madman in “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) parked his stolen submarines. In a tribute to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969), we get an Aston Martin DBS, a reprise of Louis Armstrong in the end credits, and, during a conversation between Bond and M beside the Thames, a gentle echo of John Barry’s electronic score. (How I miss Barry. Would the myth of Bond even have survived without him?) As a valediction to Craig, though, “No Time to Die” leans so relentlessly on his earlier Bond films that anyone who never saw them, or failed to take copious notes, will be stranded. You mean you’ve forgotten that Madeleine’s father was Mr. White, introduced in “Casino Royale” (2006)? Shame on you!

The problem with “No Time to Die” is that it’s all about itself, and the tug of its own origins. Such is the current mode: we live under the spell of long-form television, and of the Marvel universe, both of which woo us with recurring characters and reward us for the stamina of our emotional investment. You could argue that no form has been longer than Bond’s, but the changes of cast—the actors playing 007, M, Q, Moneypenny, and Blofeld—have refreshed the fun, and each movie, by and large, has stood alone. Not so the new film, which throbs with old wounds. It’s often exciting, but there’s something inward and agonized about the thrills, and the insouciance of Connery’s epoch, for better or worse, seems like ancient history. “No Time to Die” has a heavy heart, and right now, more than ever, we could use a light one. As we trickle back to cinemas, is it merely frivolous to hope that a James Bond flick should leave us feeling cheered up?

Still, let us give thanks for what we have. Listen to M, for a start, as he issues a command: “Q, hack into Blofeld’s bionic eye”—a strong candidate for the most Bond-tastic line ever spoken. (Top marks to Fiennes for saying it with a straight face.) Best and blithest of all is Bond’s trip to Cuba, where he teams up with a novice agent named Paloma. She is played by Ana de Armas, who is Havana-born, and who consorted so nimbly with Craig in “Knives Out” (2019). Now, in evening dress, and in extreme peril, Paloma and Bond have to shoot their way out of trouble, though not before pausing for a brace of vodka Martinis. Paloma drains most of hers in a single glug. Mid-mayhem, they pause again to refuel, with a quick tot of something at the bar, before getting back to work. What bliss: in the depths of a wry and disconsolate film, it’s like watching Fred and Ginger. “You were excellent,” Bond tells Paloma as they part. She smiles and replies, “You, too.” And so say all of us.♦

(Video) 🔴No Time To Die 2022

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James Bond’s Heavy Heart in “No Time to Die”? ›

It's often exciting, but there's something inward and agonized about the thrills, and the insouciance of Connery's epoch, for better or worse, seems like ancient history. No Time to Die

No Time to Die
The Eon series currently has twenty-five films, with the most recent, No Time to Die, released in September 2021.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › List_of_James_Bond_films
” has a heavy heart, and right now, more than ever, we could use a light one.

Was Bond Poisoned in No Time to Die? ›

Bond's fate

It definitely is. Safin gets the drop on 007, shooting Bond several times and infecting him with nanobots coded to Madeleine's DNA -- meaning he can never touch her or Mathilde again without killing them.

Is Mathilde James Bond daughter? ›

He then realizes that the base's doors are closing yet again, forcing him to make his way back to the control room. Safin then attacks him, smashing the vial with nanobots coded with Madeleine's DNA upon Bond's face. Bond kills Safin in return, then calls Madeleine, who confirms that Mathilde is indeed his daughter.

Could James Bond survive no time to die? ›

Case in point: no major characters introduced in Casino Royale - including Judi Dench's M, Felix or Bond himself - survived to the end of No Time To Die. Bond's eventual death was somewhat foreshadowed in M's first scene with 007, where she expresses regret about promoting him at tall.

What do Bond fans think of No Time to Die? ›

The good news, for most involved, is that opinions are resoundingly positive. No Time to Die was clearly trying to be an epic conclusion, and based on social media reactions, it seems the movie largely succeeded in that effort.

Why was James Bond killed off? ›

Danial exclaimed that it was tough to find a suitable ending for Bond. But in the end, he was happy with how things ended because Bond sacrificed himself for love. When asked for the reason behind wanting to kill the character, Craig mentioned that it would serve as a fresh start for the creative team to begin again.

Why was No Time to Die so bad? ›

The action is too much about the stunts and CGI and not enough about the suspense or danger, and the whole thing simply goes through the motions. Rami Malek is far too sympathetic to make a good bad guy, and the main problem lies in employing the same two screenwriters for the past 20+ years. No wonder it feels stale.

Is Madeleine the daughter of Blofeld or Mr White? ›

Madeline Swann is the daughter of Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), a member of the criminal organization SPECTRE.

What was Madeline's secret in James Bond? ›

However, it later becomes clear that her oft-alluded to secret is actually a daughter who lives with her in the same secluded cabin in which she grew up in Norway. The reveal of Madeleine's daughter is especially shocking, considering the numerous references made to her secret by some of the film's major villains.

Is Madeleine daughter of Blofeld? ›

Madeleine is the daughter of SPECTRE agent Mr. White and his wife. In 1998, Lyutsifer Safin came to the White house in Nittedal, Norway to kill Mr. White, who had murdered his entire family on orders from SPECTRE leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Who is going to replace James Bond? ›

The Bond battle follows Craig's last turn as the suave spy in 2021's “No Time to Die.” The “Knives Out” actor, 54, has played the MI6 womanizer since 2006's “Casino Royale.” Other A-listers rumored to be in the mix include Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Henry Cavill, Richard Madden and “Bridgerton” star Regé-Jean Page.

Why did Vesper betray Bond? ›

However, Vesper betrayed Bond by embezzling money to save his life; she was threatened with his death if she didn't.

Will there be another James Bond? ›

When will the next James Bond be announced? With Bond 26 not expected on our cinema screens until 2025 at the earliest, the film remains firmly in the pre-pre-production phase. 'We're working out where to go with him, we're talking that through,' said Barbara Broccoli in June 2022.

What did Madeleine Swann write on the paper in No Time To Die? ›

Although they are both happy together, Madeleine knows Bond still has lingering thoughts about Vesper Lynd, whom she points out is buried close to them. She encourages to let her go, doing the same with her memory of Safin by writing “masked man” in French on a piece of paper and burning it.

How did Bond know he was poisoned? ›

He takes a sip and the world begins to blur: delirious, he rushes to the bathroom with a salt shaker and attempts to vomit; unsuccessful, he goes to his car and calls MI6, who tell him he's been poisoned with digitalis – and is going into cardiac arrest.

What did Madeleine Swann write on the paper in No Time to Die? ›

Although they are both happy together, Madeleine knows Bond still has lingering thoughts about Vesper Lynd, whom she points out is buried close to them. She encourages to let her go, doing the same with her memory of Safin by writing “masked man” in French on a piece of paper and burning it.

How did Safin survive being shot by Madeleine? ›

How did Safin survive his gunshot wounds? It wasn't explained but the most likely solution is that he was wearing a bulletproof vest under his parka and all of Madeleine's gunshots were aimed at his torso.


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