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Blu-ray Review: No Time to Die

January 18, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

No Time to Die is the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, and the fifth one starring Daniel Craig, ending his tenure as Ian Fleming’s iconic character and completing a story arc that began with Craig’s first appearance as Bond in Casino Royale way back in 2006.

The Craig Bond films presented new territory for the spy franchise, building a continuous narrative that unfolded over the five films, instead of just serving as a series of one-off adventures. As such, No Time to Die has a lot of loose ends to tie up, something that director Cary Joji Fukunaga (a newbie to the series) handles with aplomb.

The story begins right after the end of Spectre. Bond is trying to live a quiet life with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), but things don’t go according to plan. He retires to Jamaica, with another MI6 agent, Nomi (Lashana Lynch), taking over his 007 number. But Bond gets pulled back into the game by CIA officer Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who enlists his help to rescue kidnapped scientist (David Dencik), who has invented a bioweapon using nanobots that become encoded with a target’s DNA. This gets them entangled with terrorist leader Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), a formidable and chilling Bond villain who has a vendetta.

Despite running for 163 minutes, No Time to Die offers a mostly well-paced action film that delivers basically everything you want from a globe-trotting Bond adventure, with some deeper emotional payoffs. The film features solid cinematography by Linus Sandgren (a shot of agents scaling down the side of a building with them being reflected in the glass is particularly striking), and some interesting production design elements, including Safin’s Brutalist-influenced concrete lair.

There is a grounded, visceral quality to the film’s various action sequences and car chases that feels refreshing in a landscape of CGI-laden blockbusters. Fukunaga does an excellent job of staging a number of exciting set-pieces, from a chilling opening flashback in Norway, to a chase through the streets of Matera, and a sequence in Cuba that allows Ana de Armas to kick ass in a brief but satisfying supporting role as young CIA agent Paloma.

Flashback to before the release of Casino Royale when Craig’s casting was first announced, and people questioned the prospect of having a blonde, blue-eyed Bond. Now it’s safe to say that Craig has cemented himself in the upper echelon of actors to take on the role, and the choice to have him be a grittier Bond who has been allowed to bleed and age over the course of these five films really pays off here.

While No Time to Die can’t quite reach the heights of series standout Skyfall, it rectifies the mistakes of Spectre, and ends up ranking right in the middle of Craig’s five films. It’s an entertaining, exciting and emotionally satisfying sendoff for Craig’s Bond, that doubles as an all-around well crafted piece of blockbuster filmmaking.

Bonus Features (Blu-ray):

I was sent the Blu-ray for review, which comes with a second disc holding about 35 minutes of bonus material. A regular DVD is also included in the 3-disc set, which ships with a slipcover.

Anatomy of a Scene: Matera (11 minutes, 32 seconds): An in-depth look behind the scenes of the set-piece in Matera, from jumping motorcycles to setting explosive charges in the side of the buildings timed to the spinning Aston Martin.

Keeping It Real: The Action of No Time to Die (6 minutes, 15 seconds): Looks at several of the film’s set-pieces, and how the production team pulled them off using practical effects.

A Global Journey (7 minutes, 50 seconds): Looks at different filming locations around the world from Norway to Matera, including returning Bond to Jamaica where original author Ian Fleming lived.

Designing Bond (11 minutes, 4 seconds): A look at the film’s costumes and production design, including building the entire Cuba set in Jamaica, and designing Safin’s lair.

No Time to Die is a Universal Pictures Home Entertainment release. It’s 163 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: December 21st, 2021

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