No Time to Die is the latest James Bond film, long-awaited and much-delayed as a result of the pandemic. Was the wait worthwhile? Were expectations met? For me, the answer is yes. You know what you are going to get with a James Bond movie and the key question is: how well does it deliver the goods? This is Daniel Craig's final appearance as Bond and as always he does a good job. I was a fan of Sean Connery, but on the whole I think that the Cheshireman is my favourite 007.
It's a long film, and making an action thriller that sustains interest for almost two and three-quarter hours is a major challenge. However, No Time to Die rises to that challenge, which is probably just as well given that apparently the total budget for the film was in the region of $350 million. Some of the action takes place in Matera and I visited the town on holiday just after most of the filming there was done. A brilliant location, for sure, and that is true of several other stunningly atmospheric backgrounds, including the frozen lake in Norway which features early on in the story.
The premise is that Bond has actually retired from being a secret agent. There's a new 007. Five years have passed since an attempt to kill him in Matera failed, and he left Madeleine Swann because he thought she'd betrayed him. He is persuaded to resume active service following the kidnap of a scientist who has developed a bioweapon (the script was written pre-pandemic, but perhaps this aspect of the story makes a greater impression now than it might otherwise have done).
There are some pleasing performances from Lea Seydoux (Madeleine) and those terrific actors Ralph Fiennes and Rory Kinnear, but naturally Craig is dominant. He will be a tough act for someone to follow. And I liked the fact that the film included one of my favourite songs of all time, the Bond classic 'We Have All the Time in the World', written by two greats, John Barry and Hal David. When it featured originally in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the song didn't receive the acclaim it deserved. But it stands the test of time, and so - perhaps unexpectedly - does James Bond.