dir: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Well. The world, as in, lazy clickbait journalists keep asking “who should the next Bond be?” as if Daniel Craig is dead, but what they have never been asking is “why should there be another James Bond?”
There’s like a billion of these fucking films. There are also a billion other action films where a guy fucks women and then fucks up a whole bunch of guys before saving the world. There’s nothing unique any more at all about these films. The Missions: Impossible flicks have Tom Cruise as an American James Bond, the Fast & Furious films have, alternatingly, Vin Diesel, The Rock and Jason Statham as some kind of Bond but with more cars and less shagging, and there’s no shortage of flicks where someone solves a mystery, shoots people then shags someone, not necessarily in that order.
What, other than the specific motifs of the theme music, the well known aesthetics of the intro, the tuxedo, the shooting of people, the M character, the Q character, the Miss Moneypenny character, the parade of villains with skin deformities who threaten the world and always lose; the female character who James shags who then dies midway through the flick, the other female James bonks later on who at least gets to live up to the end credits; why do we need much more of this, regardless of whether the next Bond is Idris Elba, Jodie Whittaker or, my personal pick, manager of the English national team, Gareth Southgate?
It's so inessential. There’s 25 of these films already. The only purpose in making more of these is so that the James Bond box set of DVDs one potentially buys for their dad on Father’s Day gets a little bit wider every other year.
I have probably been writing a version of the above paragraphs every time a Bond film has come out since, I dunno, that fucking terrible Pierce Brosnan Bond film Die Another Die, which was just diabolically bad, came out. I should just cut and paste to save time. I will probably be writing the same shit thirty years from now from some old folk’s home underground somewhere, when Bond films are streamed directly into our brains in order to keep us docile and amused.
If Daniel Craig is relieved that he never has to play the role again, then I am happy for him. He can go on and live his life and play some other character in some other franchise. Maybe they can give him some Marvel work, or something in Star Warses, or maybe he can return to his one true love, which is probably Eastenders or something. He could take over the pub from Danny Dyer and speak wiv an even broader Cockney accent, guv’nor.
This is definitely the last time, there’s no going back. There’s a note of finality to the occasion, a bridge-burning aspect that just screams “I’m done with this shit.”
There is, however, none of this bullshit I’ve read in a bunch of reviews that tries to encompass the notion that Bond is old and wounded, and exhausted, and wanting to be done with everything, in the context of the flick itself. I’ve read people write such drivel, but, I can assure you, nothing of the sort is in the flick. Bond, as Craig is playing him here, is just as keen to get the bad guys, just as keen not to trust women, and just as much out of step with the world as he ever is.
The notion that James Bond, one guy, with all the luck, skills and gadgets in the world, is ever the only person who can save us all is just as ludicrous here as it ever is, especially since surely if one person could do it, if you threw twenty similarly skilled and outfitted agents at the problem, your probability of success would be that much higher. In fact, that’s even worked into the storyline, when Bond retires, and he’s replaced by someone 30 years his junior who can do all the stuff he can just without the casual sexism.
The film goes out of its way as if to say “ha ha, old man, your time has passed, go quietly into that good night and let us sweet young things look after the world now” before it does an about face and screams “no James we’re all fucking useless literally you’re the only person in the whole world that can save us!!!” Talk about pandering to an audience of boomer dads.
Which is, you know, fair enough. If this version of Bond’s swansong is going to mean anything, it can’t be that he dies from cirrhosis of the liver, or lung cancer, or even worse prostate cancer, because he’s saved the world so many goddamn times; he deserves to go out with a bang.
All the elements are there. All the globetrotting locations are there: Italy, Jamaica, Cuba, Norway, some island fortress (tick). There are women. There are people telling James he doesn’t know what he’s doing and his outdated methods won’t work this time. Then there’s James showing the only way sometimes to deal with apocalyptic madmen is to kill everyone involved.
The difference, if there is one here, is how strangely personal they try to make it for the character. They not only make it so if he doesn’t succeed, millions will die: They make it so whether he succeeds or not, he will never be able to physically be in proximity of those he loves without killing them unintentionally.
The sins of the fathers… My father is a saint, and so I carry no burden of sins past or present from his time on this green earth. No genocide can be lain at his feet, no intergenerational traumas weigh upon his shoulders. The same cannot be said of James, or the woman he loves temporarily, being Madeleine (Léa Seydoux), who witnessed much murder as a child, and has a child, herself. That child, well, that child’s father has killed many, many people over the last however many years, and so doesn’t get to be the one to read stories with her or build models with or, you know, be around at all.
Can Bond, the killer of killers, the lover of lovers, even be a dad? That seems…not within the spirit of the original creation by Ian Fleming. Bond was and still is less a character and more a wish fulfillment avatar for male entitlement specifically and British chauvinism in general. I’m not the first person to notice he runs around the globe killing whoever he wants and fucks whoever he wants, sometimes at the same time, and never seems to change, ever, whether with the times or whether he loses people he ‘loves’. Daniel Craig’s Bond has lost people he cares about, lost his family home and the old boss he was secretly in love with played by Dame Judi Dench, loses some old friends here as well, but the one time he creates an actual connection with someone here, the villain even takes that away from him, or at least weaponises it. Weaponises his actual DNA.
That seems unusually cruel, even for a Bond villain with scars on his face. As for that villain, played by Rami Malek, he’s not going to be remembered for this role, if at all. Malek is an odd presence in any flick he’s in, but here he speaks in this dreamy, affectless voice that makes it sound like he’s playing a ghost for Halloween trying to not scare some little kids.
He has, I’m sure, a convoluted backstory, but I really did not care, and I don’t think it really mattered. What mattered was whether James, with the able help of other operatives, most importantly now being other female agents that he definitely doesn’t get to shag between shootouts, because ew, he’d too old for that now, and whether they can save the world together.
At two delightfully different extremes Paloma (Ana de Armas) appears during one of the strange set pieces pretending to be a CIA agent who’s only been on the job for a couple of weeks, and proves to be far more competent than would otherwise have been implied, and more importantly, the new 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch).
Take that, white male privilege: 007 is now a black British woman of Jamaican descent, and she can kill motherfuckers dead on screen all day, and there’s nothing you can do about it other than take part in protests that pretend to be about vaccines, and are really about scaring the rest of the populace and the government into thinking you still matter more than other people.
There’s no implication that she would be the 007 ongoing. Heavens know that James Bond has to be a white man, or the empire itself will fall, uh, again, or even worse, as according to entirely fuckheaded Tory MP Nick Fletcher casting women in roles previously played by men will cause men to now commit crime out of their gender confused anguish. Or something.
Yes. Crimes. A female Bond would make men commit more crimes, because their role models (role models such as guys doing what they want whenever they want, healthy role models, naturally) have been taken away from them.
Whatever. No-one’s taking anything from Bond. He takes without asking, he does not give, but in the end he saves us all, and all he asks for in return is…nothing.
That is the way of real men.
This was, for me, an entirely satisfying end to Daniel Craig’s tenure as this character. I’ve always liked him as an actor, and playing this character, and when I’m in a mood where I can tolerate the long-winded travelogue bullshit aspects of these stories, which isn’t that often anymore, I can even find it enjoyable. I found No Time to Die surprisingly enjoyable. Put that on a fucking poster, already.
7 times Daniel Craig has always looked like someone that would not be a gentle, sensitive lover out of 10
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” – yeah, use it wisely, watching movies and reviewing them - No Time to Die