No Time To Die is the 25th in the series of films featuring James Bond. Originally announced in 2019, its cinematic release was delayed until 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following on from events in the film Spectre, James Bond's arch enemy Blofeld is in prison, Bond is in love with the daughter of an assassin, and the world is at risk from a deadly new weapon.
The film begins with a flashback to Dr Madeleine Swann's youth, when she witnessed her mother's death at the hands of assassin Lyutsifer Safin - Safin wanted revenge as his parents had been killed by her father, Mr White1. We then meet Madeleine several years later, when she is with James Bond in Italy. Bond visits the tomb of Vesper Lynd2, but encounters enemies from his old nemesis SPECTRE.
Five years later, there is a disturbance at an MI6 laboratory and a Russian scientist who had created a bioweapon and defected to the UK is kidnapped. Bond is in Jamaica3 where he meets his old friend Felix Leiter and Nomi, another secret agent with the codename 007.
Bond goes to Cuba for Felix and witnesses the bioweapon being deployed. The bioweapon's creator is found and then kidnapped again. Bond meets Blofeld in a secure prison4 and then learns more about Madeleine's past. Q provides Bond and 007 with gadgets including a glider that can turn into a submarine. The final denouement happens in Safin's lair5, with shootings, missile launches and explosions galore.
The Name's Bond
This film was the fifth for Daniel Craig as James Bond - his first was Casino Royale (2006) and this was followed by Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). Ben Whishaw played Q for the third time, and it was also the third appearance of Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter and Ralph Fiennes as M. Léa Seydoux played Madeleine Swann and Christoph Waltz played Blofeld in both this film and Spectre (2015).
The film's theme song is sung by Billie Eilish. Written by Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O'Connell, 'No Time To Die' entered the UK singles chart at Number One when it was released in February 2020. It won the 2021 Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media and the 2022 Academy Award for Best Original Song, among many other accolades.
While the film can be confusing for people less familiar with the franchise, there is plenty of action, including shootings and car chases. There are also plenty of details for Bond fans to look out for that reference other Bond films. For example he orders Martinis 'shaken, not stirred' and confirms his name is 'Bond - James Bond'. We even see Bond in a cylinder shooting towards the camera, echoing the opening credits of earlier films such as Thunderball.
The plot is inspired by elements of the novel You Only Live Twice that were not used in the Bond film of that name. There are also particularly strong references to On Her Majesty's Secret Service - that film's theme song 'We have all the time in the world' often features in this film, and there is a note of sadness that reflects the sorrow Bond felt in the earlier film when the woman he loved was killed.
There is some humour in the film as well. There is a cameo by comedian and actor Hugh Dennis as laboratory assistant Dr Hardy. Ana de Armas plays Paloma, a nervous new CIA agent who reveals she has impressive skills in martial arts6. Hollywood Laws of Physics apply, too - most notably Bond's enemies struggle to hit their targets, while Bond's aim is much more accurate.
Product placement is noticeable in the film. For example, Bond drives an Aston Martin, and Mermaid Gin from the Isle of Wight Distillery appears in a bar scene. We also see several Nokia mobile phones, including the classic Nokia 3310 and the modern Nokia 8.3 5G smartphone.
The film only just passes the three components of the Bechdel Test - there is more than one named female character, and they have conversations with each other, but their conversations that are not about men are very brief (Moneypenny passes a report to 007, and Madeleine speaks to 007 in a ladies' toilet room). However, the film does pass the Kevin Smith Reboot Test of adding diversity. The disabled people in the film are still the villains: Blofeld and one of his henchmen have only one natural eye, but their prosthetic eyes are powerful bionic tools, and Safin has scars all over his body caused by the poison that killed his parents, so he wears a mask when we first meet him. However, the new 007 is a Black woman, and we see Q in his home where he is preparing a romantic meal for a man.
No Time To Die cost around £200 million ($250 million) to make, putting it number one in the list of most expensive Bond films to date (2021). It made around $775 million at the cinema box office, but when marketing costs and the costs of delaying the release during the COVID-19 pandemic were taken into account, it was estimated to have (at best) broken even.
What's in a Name?
On 20 August, 2019, when it was announced that the next Bond film would be titled No Time To Die, executive producer Barbara Broccoli7 was quoted as saying that she named it 'after one of her father's films'. The film she was referring to was No Time To Die (1958), which is set in a desert and prisoner of war camp during the Second World War.
The James Bond film No Time To Die should also not be confused with two German films named Keine Zeit zum Sterben (one produced in 1984 and one in 2006) or the various books of the same name (including the 1954 novel by Ronald Kemp, the 2014 novel by Kira Peikoff, the 2018 novel by Andrew Barrett and the 2019 novel by Michael Parker).
As with these earlier works, the key question for the film is: why is it titled No Time To Die? Is it because James Bond's life is so hectic and fraught that there is simply not enough time available to pay the ultimate sacrifice, or because the time is not the right occasion to die? The words 'Time to die' are spoken when a character whose life has been spared is finally disposed of, but the ending of the film leaves the question unanswered in relation to James Bond's life or death. As is traditional for a James Bond film, it states in the end credits:
James Bond will return.