“Goodbye, Mr. Bond.” No Time to Die ReviewedJef Costello
The release of a new James Bond film is always a cause for celebration. I’ve been following Bond since I was six or seven years old, but the series is even older than I am. Isn’t it remarkable that the same family has been making these films now for sixty years? There is nothing quite like the Bond phenomenon.
The release of No Time to Die was held up for more than a year due to the Chinese coronavirus, but now it is shaping up to be by far the most successful post-pandemic cinematic release. In all honesty, I was not entirely unhappy that they kept delaying the premiere. The persistent rumor was that this Bond was going to be “woke.” Advance word was that the story had Bond retired from the service, with his code number Double-O-Seven reassigned to a black woman. Bond fans, in all the countless forums, speculated that Barbara Broccoli, living in her detached, super-affluent bubble, had gone mad with wokeness and was determined to snip off Bond’s balls. This would, of course, make her the ultimate Bond villain.
I knew what was coming — or at least I thought I did. I knew I would have to endure scenes in which the black female 007 would “school” poor old, hapless Bond, perhaps even encouraging him to check his privilege. It didn’t help that the actress cast in the part (Lashana Lynch) is not that easy on the eyes. So, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t eager to see a new Bond film.
However, the first piece of good news I have to report about No Time to Die (which I saw in an IMAX theater last Thursday) is that all those fears were completely unfounded. The new Bond film is not woke. Yes, Bond’s number has been given to a black woman, but there is no real “messaging,” no virtue-signaling involved here. I mean, aside from the basic fact that they cast a black woman as a secret agent with a license to kill — which they basically already did with Halle Berry in Die Another Day. There is a rivalry between the two 007s, but no scenes in which Bond is humiliated or bested by this ebony superspy. The two become allies, and eventually she formally requests that the 007 designation be returned to Bond! Actually, I found little to dislike about the character.
Yes, we do have a black Miss Moneypenny, but that’s been the case for three films now. Oh, and yes, we do find out that Q is gay (in a rather amusing scene). Little is made of it, and the audience is left to infer that Q is gay from an offhand remark. This mattered little to me, as I kind of suspected this anyway. The actor who plays Q (Ben Whishaw) is gay and seems to specialize in playing gay characters. But these are minor complaints. Aside from casting, there is no political content to this film. How refreshing!
Now, in case you haven’t figured it out already, I am not going to avoid spoilers. If you have not seen No Time to Die, I recommend that you stop reading at this point. You have been warned!
In essential terms, No Time to Die is a remake of 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (henceforth OHMSS). The latter film is often considered by really hardcore (and more mature) Bond fans to be the best of the series. It’s the one that starred 28-year-old Australian male model George Lazenby in his one and only outing as Bond. Notoriously, Lazenby was offered a five-picture contract on completion of the film, but turned it down on the advice of his hippie friends, who assured him that “Bond is like, for squares, man!” and passé. No kidding, really!
OHMSS is unique not just for the presence of Lazenby. The plot involves Bond falling in love with Tracey, an Italian countess played by Diana Rigg (in the best performance by a female lead in the entire series). Incredibly, Bond and Tracey are married near the end of the film, and Bond announces that he is leaving MI6. Their happiness, however, is short-lived. Just after assuring Tracey that “now we have all the time in the world,” she is gunned down by Bond’s arch-nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The film ends with Bond cradling Tracey’s lifeless body in his arms and quietly weeping.
Viewed today, the scene is still shocking and causes tender hearts to reach for the Kleenex. Imagine how shocking it was to audiences in 1969, who were not expecting tragedy when they went to see a Bond movie. OHMSS was, compared to earlier Bonds, a lackluster moneymaker, and was unenthusiastically received by critics, largely because of Lazenby’s so-so performance. But critics and audiences would likely have been hard on any actor who had the misfortune to be the first to try to fill Sean Connery’s shoes. The film’s reputation has soared in subsequent years, and not just among hardcore Bond films. In 2013, director Steven Soderbergh blogged, “cinematically . . . [OHMSS is] the best Bond film and the only one worth watching repeatedly for reasons other than pure entertainment (certainly it’s the only Bond film I look at and think: I’m stealing that shit).” He went on:
Shot to shot, this movie is beautiful in a way none of the other Bond films are — the anamorphic compositions are relentlessly arresting — and the editing patterns of the action sequences are totally bananas; it’s like Peter Hunt (who cut the first five Bond films) took all the ideas of the French new wave and blended them with Eisenstein in a Cuisinart to create a grammar that still tops today’s “how fast can you cut” aesthetic, because the difference here is that each of the shots — no matter how short — are real shots, not just additional coverage from the hosing-it-down school of action, so there is a unification of the aesthetic of the first unit and the second unit that doesn’t exist in any other Bond film. And, speaking of action, there are as many big set pieces in OHMSS as any Bond film ever made, and if that weren’t enough, there’s a great score by John Barry, some really striking sound work, and what can you say about Diana Rigg that doesn’t start with the word WOW?
The makers of the Bond series themselves — currently Michael Wilson and his half-sister Barbara Broccoli — also hold OHMSS in high esteem. Based upon comments they’ve dropped here and there, it seems to compete only with 1963’s From Russia with Love for the top spot in their eyes. The film that followed OHMSS, Diamonds are Forever (1971), in which Connery returned to the role, took a sharp turn in the direction of comedy. No direct reference was made to the tragic ending of Bond’s brief marriage in the previous film, except that Diamonds does open with Bond hunting down Blofeld and (seemingly) killing him. Everyone, it seems, just wanted to forget that OHMSS ever happened.
That changed in 1977 with Roger Moore’s third (and best) outing as Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me. In a scene set in a bar in Cairo, the female lead (Barbara Bach) refers to Bond having once been married. Bond cuts her off, clearly indicating that it’s a painful subject for him. 1981’s For Your Eyes Only begins with Bond visiting Tracey’s grave, and then encountering a bald villain with a white Persian cat, whom he dispatches in a more satisfying fashion than we got to see in Diamonds. (For legal reasons, which I go into elsewhere, Blofeld could not be named openly.) One can therefore argue that at least the beginning of For Your Eyes Only is a sequel to OHMSS, but the remainder of the film also pays homage to OHMSS in various ways. Indeed, careful study will yield the conclusion that OHMSS was the cinematic model for Eyes Only.
Now, take note of some of these plot elements. A Bond from whom personal happiness is cruelly snatched. A Bond who weeps. A Bond who is revealed years later, if only very briefly, as emotionally scarred by the death of his one true love. A Bond who visits the grave of his true love at the beginning of one of his adventures. It has been said, correctly, that the Daniel Craig films explore the character like no prior Bond films, and give him an emotional depth no other actor ever brought to the role. This is all quite true, but the seeds of this were planted in previous films.
The Craig cycle of films begins with Casino Royale (2006), in which Bond falls in love with the beautiful Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). Though Vesper turns out to be a double agent, she clearly returns Bond’s feelings, and her death at the end of the film (she drowns as Bond looks on helplessly, unable to save her) establishes the tragic tone of the Craig cycle. Vesper is the Craig Bond’s Tracey. And he spends the next film (2008’s Quantum of Solace) trying to come to terms with her loss and to get on with saving the world. Bond’s emotional depths are plumbed further in 2012’s Skyfall, in which it becomes clear that M (Judi Dench) has become a kind of mother figure for him. She dies tragically in the film’s climax — and, yes, Bond weeps for her. There was scarcely a dry eye in the cinema when I saw Skyfall, so convincing were the performances of Craig and Dench.
Now, on paper none of this is likely to seem particularly appealing. Who needs a weepy James Bond? Yet, I have to admit that I will take weepy James Bond over Roger Moore’s cartoonish superman any day (though I remain quite fond of Moore nonetheless). The simple fact of the matter is that Craig, with the assistance of some gifted writers, has made Bond into a genuinely interesting character. A dark Bond. A haunted Bond. A seriously fucked up Bond who at last has very good reasons to gulp down multiple vodka martinis. For millennials and zoomers (those of Generation Z), Craig is the only Bond. Many of those who became Bond fans as a result of seeing Craig in the role are barely acquainted with earlier Bond films. But even among Generation Xers, Craig is now edging out Connery for the number one spot. All of this is entirely attributable to Craig’s skill as an actor, and his ability to play Bond as a believable, three-dimensional character with genuine emotional depth.
Having been cast in 2005, Craig is now the longest-serving Bond in cinema history (beating Moore’s previous record of twelve years). So, when he announced that the 25th Eon Productions Bond film (later titled No Time to Die) would be his last, the series’ producers faced the problem of how to bring this era of Bond to a close — this era that had genuinely broken new ground, and unquestionably breathed new life into the series, possibly assuring its continuation for generations. One thing was certain: the final Craig Bond film would have to be a better film than 2015’s Spectre, which was a disappointment overall, and arguably the weakest of Craig’s outings.
The filmmakers settled on a sensible course: the noteworthy achievement of the Craig films was, again, to bring more emotional depth to Bond, so the final Craig film would pick Bond’s brain like none before. We would learn even more about this character, and see him as we never have before. What was required was a story that could be a vehicle for an acting tour de force from Craig. (And they succeeded, by the way: some critics have even suggested that Craig deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance in No Time to Die — while just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable that an actor could be nominated for playing James Bond.)
In looking for direction, it was simply inevitable that the filmmakers would turn once more to OHMSS. Now, I said earlier that No Time to Die is a remake of OHMSS in essential terms. What I mean by this is that the new film does not follow OHMSS in detail (it does not use the same plot). Instead, it captures the meaning of OHMSS — its essence, if you will — and expresses that in a new form. And, along the way, it sends clear messages (clear to anyone who has seen the older film) that this is exactly what it is doing.
OHMSS was based on the Ian Fleming novel of the same name, and it is one of the few Bond films to follow the plot of a Fleming story faithfully. Why did Fleming give his novel such an unwieldy title (so unwieldy, in fact, that the film version features no “title song”)? First of all, the designation “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was (at least at one time) actually used in documents circulated within British intelligence. Fleming knew this from the intelligence work he did during the Second World War. He uses this phrase as the title of his novel to underscore the tragedy of the story’s conclusion. As I’ve already mentioned, Bond quits his job when he marries Tracey, thinking that he can now have a private life and a family. But when Tracey is murdered, he learns that this is impossible — that he will always be on Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In the following novel he is, of course, back on the job.
No Time to Die delivers the same message — again, in essential terms, as opposed to detail. In Spectre, Bond develops feelings for Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), and at the film’s conclusion it appears that they have become a couple. Now, when No Time to Die was being planned, it was rumored (quite early on) that the film might begin with Madeleine being murdered by Blofeld (whose character was reintroduced in Spectre, after a more-than-forty-year absence from the series). In news reports that repeated this rumor, OHMSS was always explicitly invoked as the obvious touchstone. The filmmakers, however, decided to take a different, and much more interesting path. That OHMSS is still the touchstone, however, is practically flashed like neon throughout the finished film.
In the pre-title sequence (always a highlight of any Bond film), Bond and Madeleine are driving through Italy in Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 (yes, the one from Goldfinger — complete with all its “optional extras”). They are clearly in love and Bond tells her, “we have all the time in the world” (a line that is repeated much later in the film). At this point, Hans Zimmer’s score quotes the melody of John Barry’s song “We Have All the Time in the World” from OHMSS! My heart sank at this. For any knowledgeable Bond fan, it is impossible to watch No Time to Die from this point on without feeling that all the characters are moving toward some terrible doom. For that select group of viewers, this forms part of the film’s suspense. We, the cognoscenti, know that something awful is going to happen; we just don’t know what it is. (And what it turns out to be, in fact, is utterly surprising and unpredictable.) I saw No Time to Die with three friends who had never seen OHMSS and don’t know much about Bond. When I heard Craig utter those fateful words, I felt as if I should whisper some warning in their ears. I felt I ought to prepare them. But I can’t stand people who talk during movies, so I held my tongue.
Bond and Madeleine wind up staying in an idyllic little Italian village, which, coincidentally, happens to be quite close to the cemetery where Vesper Lynd is buried. Madeleine persuades Bond to go to her grave and forgive her. In a poignant scene, he stares at her crypt and says, “I miss you.” But then he notices the flowers that someone has recently placed there. On them is a card bearing the infamous ghost-octopus symbol of Spectre. Bond realizes too late that a bomb has been planted at the crypt — and it explodes, nearly killing him. This precipitates an epic chase, in which Spectre pursues Bond, trying to finish the job. It is easily one of the most thrilling sequences in any Bond film, and makes better use of Bond’s Aston Martin than Goldfinger did.
Bond is convinced that Madeleine betrayed him to Spectre. Still in love with her, he does not kill her or even turn her in to his bosses. Instead, he simply puts her on a train and sends her out of his life. She protests her innocence — quite sincerely, it turns out — but to no avail. The rest of the film is set five years after these events. Bond has left Her Majesty’s Secret Service and is leading a private life in Jamaica, spending his days fishing and drinking. That is, until the day his old CIA friend Felix Leiter comes knocking. . . . I won’t discuss the rest of the plot in detail. You really must see the film for yourself. I will share, however, just enough to clinch my interpretation of No Time to Die as Craig’s OHMSS.
To make a long story short, as they say, a ghost from Madeleine’s past reappears and is now a supervillain, complete with his own private army, just like every Bond supervillain (how do they recruit all those guys, exactly?). And, inevitably, Bond and Madeleine are drawn together again. The supervillain is named Lyutsifer Safin, and is played with consummate creepiness by Rami Malek. Like Blofeld in OHMSS, he is in possession of a bioweapon that threatens all life on Earth. Blofeld’s bioweapon was merely an infertility virus (“Virus Omega”), whereas Safin’s is a designer plague of killer nanobots that can be coded to target individuals with a specific genetic profile, even entire races. (Gosh, what would the Left do if they got their hands on that?)
In fact, Safin uses the weapon to kill Blofeld, who was captured at the end of the last film and is being confined in absurd, over-the-top Hannibal Lecterish maximum security. Safin, we learn, saved Madeleine’s life as a little girl and he recruits her to unwittingly infect Blofeld with deadly nanobots tailored to his DNA. The means for doing this is a perfume atomizer — exactly the means Blofeld planned to use to spread Virus Omega in OHMSS. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that in the years since Bond put Madeleine on that train, she has gone to work for the British government and is now Blofeld’s psychiatrist. Now, please just don’t ask; it’s complicated, and is a plot point that doesn’t bear close scrutiny. Basically, the story is that she is the only person he will agree to talk to.
Needless to say, every Bond villain needs a lair, preferably one designed by Ken Adam. The peerless Adam, sorry to say, is no longer with us, and so this villain’s lair was designed by one Mark Tildesley. The result is not exactly up to Adam’s standard (what is?), but it is visually impressive nonetheless. The lair is located on a fictitious island in disputed territory claimed by both Russia and Japan. In fact, it is an abandoned Russian missile silo, with distinctly Japanese interiors. In an effort to cozy up the place, Safin has created a garden populated entirely by poisonous plants. Now, very knowledgeable Bond fans will immediately recognize this as a plot point from the novel (though not the film) You Only Live Twice.
Fleming wrote that novel as a sequel to OHMSS. At the beginning, we find Bond a broken man, unable to reconcile himself to Tracey’s death. His work has begun to suffer as a result, and M is about to put him out to pasture. But he gives Bond one last chance: a mission to Japan to convince the head of Japanese intelligence to share some intercepted Soviet coded transmissions with MI6. M’s Japanese counterpart, Tanaka, agrees to help Bond in exchange for a favor. A certain German named Dr. Guntram Shatterhand has bought an island off the coast of Japan, where he has created a “garden of death” filled with deadly plants and animals. (The name Shatterhand is an allusion on Fleming’s part to the novelist Karl May’s character “Old Shatterhand.”)
The Japanese flock to Shatterhand’s garden to commit suicide, and the situation has become an embarrassment to the authorities. However, legally there is no way for the Japanese to touch Shatterhand. The favor Tanaka asks of Bond is for him to venture to the island and kill Dr. Shatterhand. When Bond sees a photograph of the man, he readily agrees, for Dr. Guntram Shatterhand is in reality Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Disguised as a Japanese fisherman (yellowface alert!), Bond infiltrates the island and finds Blofeld walking in his garden dressed in full samurai armor. One thing leads to another, and Bond kills Blofeld in a duel, blows up his castle, then floats off the island gripping a helium-filled balloon.
As you may now appreciate, this is without question Fleming’s most bizarre plot. It was completely dropped for the 1967 film version, but for years I had hoped to see elements of it used in the series. No Time to Die keeps the garden of death (though it is smaller than I imagined it), but drops, sadly, the samurai armor, the castle, the duel, and the balloon. Still, one can’t have everything. And how interesting it is to see plot elements from You Only Live Twice used in this film! You Only Live Twice is, after all, the follow up to OHMSS, the novel in which Bond mourns Tracey. Further, despite the fanciful plot, a real pall hangs over the entire book. It is the darkest of all of Fleming’s stories. And I would say that, without question, No Time to Die is the darkest of all the James Bond films.
Needless to say, Bond confronts Safin on that island. He goes there as he always does, to save the world. But this time, as the admen say, it’s personal, for Safin holds Madeleine Swann prisoner. Here we see another parallel to OHMSS (the film, to be clear), in which Bond must destroy Blofeld’s mountaintop lair, but not before rescuing Tracey from his clutches. Things are considerably more complicated than they were in OHMSS, however. You see, Safin has also kidnapped Madeleine’s child, an adorable little girl named Mathilde (Lisa-Dorah Sonnet). Now, guess who this child’s father is? Yes, that’s right. And she’s got his blue eyes.
It is really the presence of the child that is the chief means by which this film reveals new layers to Double-O-Seven. We’ve already seen him in love, and we’ve seen him in mourning. Here we see him as a father. Now, interestingly, it’s arguable that this is also a plot point from the novel You Only Live Twice. After Bond escapes Blofeld’s island, clinging to his helium-filled balloon, he hits his head and loses his memory. Bond is rescued by ally Kissy Suzuki, a Japanese agent. She is in love with him and lies to him about his identity, secretly hoping that he will not regain his memory. One day, however, Bond sees a piece of paper with the name of the Russian city Vladivostok on it. He recognizes the name and, thinking that this might hold the key to his identity, he decides to journey there. When Bond leaves Kissy, Fleming tells us that he is unaware that she is pregnant with his child. (As an aside, for no extra charge, I will mention that what happens next is revealed at the beginning of the final Fleming Bond novel, The Man with the Golden Gun: Bond does indeed make it to Vladivostok, where the Soviets promptly brainwash him and send him back to London programmed to kill M.)
Bond’s objective in No Time to Die is clear to him: Kill Safin, destroy his headquarters (and with it “Project Heracles,” the bioweapon) — then quit the service (again) and become a husband and father. But we who have been down this road before, we the initiates of OHMSS, know that it is not to be. There is no quitting Her Majesty’s Secret Service — not for James Bond, anyway. When it becomes clear, earlier in the film, that Bond is rejoining MI6 in order to bring down Safin, Zimmer’s score quotes Barry’s main theme for OHMSS. We know that Bond is not meant for the burbs. Imagine: Bond wearing a leaf-blower instead of a jetpack, attending PTA meetings, playing poker with his neighborhood cronies (“when my wife lets me”), and driving the Aston Martin around town in search of the cheapest gas. Sorry, folks, but that would be much worse than a black female 007.
What we assume, of course, is that Madeleine and Mathilde will die tragically. But this is where the film throws us a gigantic curve. It is Bond himself who dies in the end. Yes, that’s right: They kill off James Bond. (I did warn you that there would be spoilers, didn’t I?) Moreover, they subject the character to a moment of such poignant tragedy that his death seems almost like a mercy killing. Safin, you see, developed a nanobot variant targeted to Madeleine’s DNA. During their climactic battle, he manages to infect Bond with the stuff. This means that the slightest physical contact from Bond would result in the deaths of both Madeleine and their daughter. And even if Bond were to avoid them, there is still the possibility he could communicate the stuff to someone else, who might in turn infect Madeleine and Mathilde with it. It is harder to imagine a crueler, more unjust fate for a man who has managed to save the entire world more times than anyone can remember. In the end, as British missiles roar towards Safin’s island to obliterate it, Bond chooses to remain and die — thus giving Madeleine and Mathilde all the time in the world.
The film, in fact, closes with Louis Armstrong’s recording of “All the Time in the World,” from the OHMSS soundtrack. I thought this was a very bold choice on the part of the filmmakers. It’s a gentle, rather dated song whose significance will be lost on all but a small percentage of the audience. It is an example not just of the filmmakers playing to the fans (in an intelligent manner), but also making an artistically correct choice, even though most of the audience will not fully understand it.
In No Time to Die we are saying goodbye to Daniel Craig — and to James Bond. The friends with whom I saw the film were incredulous. Is this the end of the series? No, clearly it is not. Broccoli and Wilson have more money than God, but making these films is their family business, and clearly a labor of love. There is no reason for them to quit, and there has been no talk about it. Indeed, for the last five years there has been constant speculation about who will be the next Bond, and the filmmakers have done nothing to discourage it. But how will the series continue, exactly? The next film is not likely to begin with Bond crawling out of the rubble of Safin’s HQ, alive after all. That would be silly, and would simply negate the impact of No Time to Die. No, they will probably once more “reboot” the series, with a new timeline and a new actor. There has been some speculation that it will be a “prequel” series, or even that it might be set in the 1960s (which would be glorious).
But it’s too early to be talking about the next James Bond film. First, we need to thoroughly savor this one. Years ago I remember a reviewer greeting the release of 1985’s A View to a Kill by writing, “Going to a Bond movie is like going to the zoo. You’re either happy to see the same animals again, or you’re not.” He was suggesting that the Bond films kept recycling the same elements. That was certainly true of the ’80s Bond, but oh my, how things have changed! In my view, the release of a new Bond film is more like Aston Martin releasing a new model, or Chanel a new perfume.
While fans debate which of them is the best and the worst, the truth is that Bond films are always judged relative to other Bond films. Even the worst of them (in my view, a tossup between The Man with the Golden Gun or Die Another Day) is still a polished, multifaceted gem of a movie, with top-drawer work in every department. (The female friend with whom I saw the film asked me to mention all the beautiful clothes in this review — and they are beautiful, just as they are in every Bond film.) However, I predict that No Time to Die is going to polarize Bond fans like no other film — even more so than, say, For Your Eyes Only or Licence to Kill. There will be no muted responses to it. Fans will either love it or hate it. So far, the critics by and large seem to love it. I have already mentioned that this is the darkest film of the entire series. Imagine a Bond film making you feel like you did after seeing The Dark Knight or Shutter Island. But this in itself is reason to recommend No Time to Die.
When was the last time you could describe a Bond film as “challenging”? When was the last time you were told that you ought to see the latest Bond film to “come to terms with it”? That’s the language we used to reserve for Bergman. Don’t get me wrong: No Time to Die is not Persona. But it is a visually extraordinary film and, surprisingly, a rather serious piece of cinema. It demands multiple viewings, because it is simply so rich with detail and nuance.
Visually, No Time to Die is also challenging in the way that action films frequently are today. The action hardly ever lets up, and it is frenetic. “Quick cutting” abounds, and it is easy to miss some details. However, the film is also compelling, thrilling, suspenseful, and sometimes frightening. It is so engrossing that it does not feel like it lasts two hours and forty-three minutes. (The friends I saw it with said the same thing; even their 14-year-old daughter sat through it without getting restless.) The images in No Time to Die are also frequently beautiful. But it is the emotional challenge that makes this such an unusual Bond film.
No Time to Die is also, well . . . Bondian. The producers have managed to update Bond and to turn him into a three-dimensional character, while preserving the delicate balance between fantasy and reality that has made the series so compelling for 60 years. It’s difficult to describe the qualities that Fleming brought to the Bond stories that make them unique. But the plot summaries above give you an idea that a “Flemingesque” story is one that doesn’t just push the bounds of plausibility, but does so in a way that is quirky, outrageous, and sometimes downright perverse. No Time to Die has such Flemingesque elements to spare. My favorite was Blofeld’s birthday party in Cuba, which he attends remotely via a bionic eye carried around the party on a pillow by a sinister bald butler who looks like he just stepped out of The Prisoner. And yet, in a fashion in keeping with Fleming and with the best of the Bond films, this outrageous silliness manages to be thrilling and (almost) believable.
No Time to Die, the 25th film in the series (a significant milestone), is also laden with references to all the earlier Bond films. For example, in one scene scientists are seen wearing hazmat suits highly reminiscent of the ones worn by Spectre agents in the very first Bond film, Dr. No. Daniel Kleinman’s opening credits sequence (always a treat) also begins with visuals strikingly like those Maurice Binder created for Dr. No, then references other Bond title sequences. There are many other such examples — some of which I caught and some of which I missed, and then read about in fan forums. Clearly, this here Bond fan is obliged to see No Time to Die again.
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I have to respectfully disagree. I thought the script was weak and although the film was not tranny level woke it was definitely subversive level woke. Q is a homosexual, the female lead is a successful yet doting single mother, the new 007 looks like a female Patrick Ewing and the bad guys are Russians and an American Wasp.
I very much agree with you. The film is loaded with symbolism from a tribe very much at war with the whiteness of Bond. They make the movies these days.
The mere fact that 007 is transferred to a black woman in his absence is pure mockery. No matter how noble her act of ‘giving’ back the 007 title to the real one. The mere fact that a black woman is allowed to just take the part spits on the whole concept of something rising above the ordinary. A pure cucking of the whole man and his role.
There are other things that could be mentioned as well, apart from the fact that Craig is married to one of the tribe. Helps you getting and keeping the role, I suppose.
To keep it short enough I just want to mention the second to last scene in the movie, where his office team is there to celebrate and take a farewell with him. Two black women, a gay man, a beta type half balding brit and his old man boss. It is just screaming to you how they laugh in your face that you whities are fat, old and non-reproductive, while the future belongs to the blackies.
I could hear the slimy sniggering of the tribe all through the movie, in fact.
Whoa…thanks for reminding me of how traumatized I was at 16 when I saw Tracey die!
It’s a powerful scene.
I want to thank the author of this article for confirming my suspicions that that latest piece of James Bond garbage isn’t worth wasting money on. I’m a little unclear on how the assertion can be made that the movie isn’t “woke,” and then followed up with “oh yeah, by the way, Q is gay, 007 is some black trans-beast, Ms. Moneypenny is black, Daniel Craig is brooding and serious and all humanized (i.e. completely pussified) but hey, it’s definitely not woke.
Not true wrt Craig’s performance. He plays a manly Bond, neither wooden nor campy. It’s very effective.
Notoriously, Lazenby was offered a five-picture contract on completion of the film, but turned it down on the advice of his hippie friends
Ah yes; the days of the counter-culture.
Reminds me of Julie Covington, who had a UK smash hit in 1977 with the original (“concept album”) version of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. She was offered the lead in the stage production but turned it down. She was seriously committed to the radical politics of the day and worried about being sucked under by the inducements and conventions of popular musical theatre (i.e., she had standards).
She regretted it later in life, but I have some respect for George and Julie. They put their principles (as delusional as they turned out to be) before fame and fortune.
And now the counter-culture IS The Culture– so no more conflicts of interest between being famous, and being “true” to one’s “principles”.
Thank you for the detailed review. I can only hope that the franchise returns to the past. How glorious would it be for Bond to return to the era of a (relatively) healthy white society, with an unapologetically all-white cast, and celebrating the masculine virtues of bravery and daring, with an unencumbered aura of assertive heterosexuality.
In the old movies, Bond has sex with non-whites. And he’s an alpha. Let me refresh your memories:
As for music, no Bond film has topped or could top Operation Kid Brother aka O.K. Connery, starring Neil Connery (RIP, May 2021), with music by Ennio Morricone. (RIP July 2020).
O.K. Connery Suite (Ennio Morricone) https://youtu.be/ARCpRKuZb_w
An enjoyable review by a well-informed Bond fan.
One, minor, quibble. Tracey Bond was gunned down by Blofeld’s assistant Irma Bunt. Blofeld was driving – a Mercedes 600 of course.
True! It’s just easier to say Blofeld did it in a short summary. After all, Ernst ordered her to do it.
I wish I was autistic and geeky enough to care about Bond films like this. For me as a normie observer it was a fairly average film with a healthy dose of blackness and gay pandering.
We crave entertainment far too much in these days of bread & circuses. I hear too many say “It’s a good movie, but you just gotta overlook the PC/Woke revisionist parts.” I don’t think I do. I like movies, but I don’t need them. If I want to see something I haven’t seen yet, I search for old movies. There are alot of them. I don’t depend on new movies for fulfilment. In the days before Hollywood, men enriched their lives with books, or by making things, or exploring the great outdoors. We need to spend a lot less time gazing at screens.
I’m tired of everything getting blackened. Negrified. Whatever we want to call it.
Excellent review, and a wonderful trip down memory lane for this late Boomer. I’ve seen all the Bond films, a majority in theater, though I can’t begin to remember them with Costello’s level of detail. I read nearly all the Bond books in the 1970s, with a few outliers in the 80s (I wish Fleming’s actual The Spy Who Loved Me, whose plot for some reason I remember much better than those of many others of the novels, would get made as a taut, noirish thriller, maybe even shot in back and white! Timothy Dalton 30 years ago would have been excellent for that particular Bond part.) I was thinking about OHMSS at times while watching NTTD – with my impression cemented by the end credits song, which instantly made me think again of OHMSS (though I only recalled that fact from Trevor Lynch’s earlier review of all the Bond songs).
Costello has made his case well, and yes, I shall see this again before it leaves the theaters, this time looking for all the little details I might have missed the first time. I also hope the rebooted future versions get set back in the 1950s and 60s. How cool would that be (unless they impertinently stick minorities in places they clearly would not have been back then)?
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