FiLM REViEW: No Time To Die, 2021

The title font is good…

Myeah… Not great, to be honest. The Bond Franchise is, like so many these days, flogging a donkey carcass that died a long time ago.

What this means is that it’s kind of lost, and all that remains is a collection of accessories: exotic locations, action sequences, the movie stars employed for it, and labyrinthine plots that are ultimately the most disappointing element of the whole collapsed soufflé.

I don’t buy Craig as Bond. At all. I like that he’s ruggedly odd-looking. But, aside from looking pretty good, he has zero charisma. The best Bonds – Connery and Moore – literally exuded charisma like sweat.

Like so much modern cinema, it becomes a series of set-piece action scenes that are impressive on the technical and adrenaline fronts, but utterly bereft of emotional involvement. I simply don’t care about anyone, as nobody seems either remotely real, nor even pleasingly cartoonishly intriguing.

Matera, Italy. Fab location!

So ultimately I simply don’t care about the story, or the ‘characters’, and all that’s left is the hi-octane stuff. And that’s just not enough, is it?

And now I’m coming to the biggest problem of all. This is a gutless, neutered version of a vision of masculinity that was born in another era, and whose charm lay very much in lots of assumptions that simply don’t get past the guardians of PC who make this sort of ‘by committee’ pap.

I guess this conclusion also shows up my demographic? If you’ve ever read any of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels, you’ll know that the movies with Connery and Moore, whilst different (esp. with Moore’s more comic take), do capture the preposterously presumptuous macho visions of Bond’s creator, whose creation is sick with self-love.

I don’t need to be a privately educated scion of a self-appointed aristocracy, or have that Tory sense of self-righteousness and entitlement that Bond and the ‘establishment’ he serves have, and represent, nor approve of the multilayered series of assumptions that underpin the whole ‘Cold War’ worldview in which most of the old stories unfolded, to enjoy the real ‘vintage’ Bond. In fact the daftness of it all is part of its period charm.

Rami Malek as Lyutsifer (!) Safin. Ugly is evil!

Ironically, for all the limply emasculated Bond-age, and the ‘empowered’ females, of whatever ethnicity, some of the most toxic and unattractive ideas of modern culture (present in the ‘real’ Bond, as well), esp’ around casual, even comical, violence, do pass the moral filters that rob this version of Bond of any balls.

I kind of want to say that the only actor who comes off even half decently (or should that be indecently?) – and that’s only speaking relatively – as he isn’t given much to work with, is Rami Malik. Who does, almost, make a Bond villain worthy of the original lineage. But even that claim is, in reality, too weak. Look at how Bond eventually offs him. Turns out Lyutsifer is a pathetically easy push-over!

And Cristoph Waltz, who I liked in Inglorious Basterds and The Hateful Eight, is really pretty lame here, as Ernst Stavros Blofeldt. And pretty much all the other characters, from M and Q to Moneypenny, and the many supporting characters, are just blank cyphers.

I like long films if they’re good. But this is way too long. And both very dull and very disappointing. But, truth be be told, it’s exactly what I expected. In fact, the best – or at least the most attractive – character in the movie is the Italian town of Matera, also recently featured in James May’s Our Man In Italy.

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