No Time to Die: Film Review

Courtesy of Universal

After multiple delays as a result of the pandemic, No Time to Die finally comes to cinemas, giving us the final chapter in Daniel Craig‘s era as James Bond.

At the beginning of No Time to Die, Bond (Craig) has left active service and is living a quiet, simple life in Jamaica. However, his peace is soon interrupted by the arrival of his old CIA friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who asks him for help, leading Bond on the hunt for a mysterious villain named Safin (Rami Malek), who is armed with a very dangerous biological weapon.

No Time to Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, didn’t blow me away but it is a solid movie that ticks all the boxes you would expect from a Bond film, so diehard fans will be pleased to know that it’ll deliver what they like from the franchise, while others might feel deflated that it rarely goes beyond that and largely sticks to the classic tried-and-tested Bond formula. That being said, the film is more emotional than other instalments – rightly so, given that it’s Craig’s final outing – and also has a surprising amount of quips and laughs, which could be down to co-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge‘s influence on the script.

This film is 2 hours 43 minutes and it definitely didn’t need to be that long, however, the runtime flew by and I didn’t feel like I’d been watching it for as long as I had. It takes a while to get going as there are a lot of plot threads to set up and characters to establish but we’re off to the races once all that introductory material is done. The storyline is interesting and gripping enough but it is also convoluted and muddled and more bloated and complex than it needed to be. There are a lot of characters and the majority of them are given a decent amount of screen time so it soon adds up.

It wouldn’t be Bond without the action sequences and there are some very cool car chases and stunt setpieces, although the gunfights do get a bit boring. It also ticks the globe-trotting box, with the story hopping from countries like Italy, Norway, Chile and, of course, England, and brings back the classic villain’s lab/lair, one of several nostalgic callbacks to the earlier movies. The cinematography is impressive and there were so many beautiful shots and I liked how Billie Eilish‘s theme is used throughout to highlight emotional moments.

The film’s main focus is Bond’s relationship with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) and so it hinges upon their central performances and they deliver the goods. I don’t particularly buy their chemistry but they give emotionally charged turns that may leave some viewers in tears. Craig is Bond at his most emotional and vulnerable as well as world-weary, with the spy seeming tired of the agent life.

Other notable performers were Ana de Armas as bubbly and kickass CIA agent Paloma, who steals her handful of scenes and is in it nowhere near enough. She deserved far more screentime and I kept hoping she’d come back. Elsewhere, Lashana Lynch held her own as Nomi and I can’t wait to see where the character goes, and it’s always a pleasure to see Ben Whishaw as the quirky Q.

The biggest letdown casting-wise was Malek, who was a weak villain. Safin was weird and creepy but not particularly threatening, so he pales in comparison to the likes of Blofeld and Raoul Silva. I don’t think it was completely his fault – it was a mixture of his performance and the script, which clearly didn’t know what to do with him in the second half.

No Time to Die may not be the strongest Craig outing (I’d rank it below Skyfall and Casino Royale) but is a solid and deserving send-off for Craig and proof that you can’t beat the cinematic experience.

In cinemas Thursday 30th September

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Surge: Film Review

Surge

Courtesy of Vertigo Releasing

I love Ben Whishaw for all his performances – in film, on the stage and as the voice of Paddington – and while he’s excellent in Surge, it’s a super stressful film that I didn’t enjoy much at all.

Whishaw plays Joseph, who is trapped in a soulless job, carrying out security checks at Stansted Airport, and lives a life devoid of emotion, meaning and connection. One day, after an act of rebellion, he breaks free from the shackles that inhabited him and goes on a wild, reckless and impulsive journey through London, robbing banks, destroying property, and having casual sex, and finally finds out what it feels like to be alive.

Surge is an intense, stressful watch on the same level as Uncut Gems – it’s got that same chaotic and frenetic energy and the camerawork has to be very dynamic to keep up with Joseph darting about all over the place making very very bad decisions. Once he has a taste of rebellious life and gets away with it, he is pumped up on adrenaline and makes speedy decisions on a whim and we basically just follow him, observing what he gets up to with his newfound “no f**ks given” attitude.

Whishaw is always fantastic as tortured soul-type characters but we’ve never seen him quite like this before. This transformative role must have been exhausting and Whishaw throws himself into the energy of it completely, nailing his portrayal of someone who could very possibly be having a mental breakdown. I never thought I would dislike any character played by Whishaw, but Joseph becomes the absolute worst, a vile human being without consideration for anybody.

Surge, the first feature film by Aneil Karia, is not for me. I know you don’t have to like characters to enjoy a film but Joseph is so awful, I hated him and didn’t want to find out what he’d do next.

Available in cinemas and on digital platforms from Friday 28th May

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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