Stunning final hour brilliantly redeems overlong Bond - review

No Time To Die (12A), (163 mins), Cineworld Cinemas

No Time To Die
No Time To Die

After all the delays, the whole thing could so easily have been an almighty anti-climax now it has finally, finally arrived.

The reality is that it is anything but.

For so many, this was the film which was holding our struggling cinemas to ransom by refusing to hit the big screens when our cinemas needed it most.

But now it’s here, there’s no doubt that this is film-making on an astonishing scale – a scale which fully justifies its long wait for the moment it could maximise its audiences.

Films don’t come much more epic than this – but it is shot through with the usual Bond dry wit which lifts it whenever it needs it. And in the end it soars.

No Time To Die is not the quickest film to get off the ground.

There are times when it’s all just a little bit too murky and just a bit too labyrinthine to be completely compelling. It’s odd that something so action-packed so often seems rather leisurely.

But all is forgiven in an extraordinary final hour which offers some of the most remarkable cinema you will ever see.

It might seem a time long coming, rather like the film itself, but when the tale narrows and becomes simply one of a kidnap rescue from a remote island (with the little matter of the future of the entire species hanging on it), No Time To Die becomes a gripping, thrilling ride – and the most perfect, most appropriate send-off for Daniel Craig in his final outing as 007.

Adding to the pleasure is that Bond – so often a character who can leave you shaken but not particularly stirred – is at last revealed in much more of his human frailties.

Yes, there is plenty of the endless dashing around, nonchalantly twisting and turning with split-second timing to gun down endless baddies who in any sort of real world would have long since overwhelmed him with their sheer weight of numbers.

We get plenty of that invincibility which makes Bond Bond but which also makes him occasionally just a little less than interesting.

But this time, overall, we are let far more into Bond the man, the human being, and that’s where this film at its best, and indeed Daniel Craig, soar. The stakes have never been higher for Bond personally, and that’s what gives the film its edge in its final third.

There is plenty of fine support from all the usuals, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright et al. And Rami Malek is excellent as a damaged, nuanced nutcase of a baddie.

But it is Léa Seydoux and Lashana Lynch above all who help Craig take this to the next level.

Seydoux is the love interest with plenty of ambiguity while Lynch is the new 007 who has taken over during Bond’s quickly interrupted retirement.

It all adds up to a cracker of a finale for surely our best James Bond ever.