More than that, however, the long runtime means Fukunaga can give his large supporting cast more than the usual two or three minutes that could have been given to each in a blockbuster. Nomi de Lashana Lynch, the chief MI6 agent who replaced Bond as 007, is wonderfully used as a foil for the grumpy Paxman-style Bond (watch any scene where Bond talks to Q followed by an episode of University challenge and you will see what I mean). There’s some great back-and-forth between the two Type A double-oh agents that it’ll be a shame to lose in the next movie with Craig leaving. Normie CIA Felix Leiter’s hack is also back, visiting Bond in Jamaica accompanied by a shit-eating minion who turns out to be bigger than he looks, and Moneypenny, Q, M and the others are too. hitting.
Safin is a more elusive presence, but his two introductions – the first in that snowy flashback we all saw in the trailer, and later when he visits an adult Madeleine Swann in her office – both create deeply frightening scenes. Like Blofeld, Safin is disfigured to obey that classic blockbuster rule that inner ugliness must also show on the outside; last year Malek said GQ, “I first met Daniel with this makeup on, and he took a step back from me.” Having seen his character fully revealed, one can hardly blame Craig.
Tonally, there are moments that don’t quite fit. No time to die features a gas attack on a black tie event that’s eerily tension-free, as well as a brief chase that functions more like a Range Rover commercial than a sequence loaded with real peril. Elsewhere, Fukanaga leans heavily on the comedic side of Bond (not a problem per se, of course) and cheesy Russian accents abound. Totally disarmingly, Hugh Dennis – as in, from Make fun of the week – appears as half of a double act of government scientists alongside Industryis Priyanga Burford. And around the middle of the movie, Ana de Armas steals a whole crazy streak in Cuba as an ingenious CIA agent named Paloma (âI did three weeks of training!â She tells Bond, her eyes shiny and bushy tail) which takes Link with the world’s 12th most orgy. Later, when she hits three big sounds of a salsa version of the Bond theme, one can’t help but wonder where the James Bond went drowning people in the bathroom sinks.
But in the end, that’s just the facade. No time to die knows how to play on his strongest point, which is Bond and Swann’s relationship, and he does it best when he looks back on the beginning of all Bond neuroses: his betrayal by Vesper Lynd in the years 2006 Casino Royale.
Craig talked about No time to die coming full circle with his time as Leap and “coming full circle”, and he wasn’t overdoing it. Fifteen years later Casino Royale came out of, No time to die is the closest to a thematic suite we have at Casino. At almost every point in the film, Bond has to wonder if he can trust Swann, and it’s no accident that No time to dieThe incitement incident takes place moments after he burned Vesper’s note asking him to “forgive me” next to his mausoleum. Swann’s personal history is deeply intertwined with that of Safin, and the unspoken question that hangs over the film is whether she will end up as Vesper (or as Bond’s only canonical wife, Tracy Di Vincenzo de On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). At one point, Bond, brooding after ending things with Swann, told Leiter, “I stopped trusting pretty faces a long time ago, Felix.”
From there, the flashbacks keep pouring in and rushing. When Bond must save a major character from drowning, there is an eerie similarity to that moment when he tried – and couldn’t – save Vesper from his suicide in 2006. Throughout the film, characters including Nomi notice that it’s not in Bond’s nature to be able to trust someone – that he’s a killer, and nothing else. It all plays into the psychological trauma of Craig’s first outing. You might have seen Spectrum understand the plot of No time to die, but you must have seen Casino Royale – and ideally remember it, at least widely – to understand the emotional heart of this film.