Léa Seydoux

REVIEW: No Time to Die (2021)

After going into retirement and feeling betrayed by Madeline (Léa Seydoux), the woman he gave up MI6 for, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is enjoying the anonymity of the quiet life. That is until Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking Bond for help, setting him on the tail of a mysterious and powerful man with dangerous new technology.

No Time to Die opens with a tense prologue before going into a thrilling car chase as Bond’s world once again comes crashing down. The action sequences in No Time to Die are excellent with hand-to-hand fights being shot close and without being heavily edited so you can actually see and feel what James Bond is going through. The various car chases are great too as at times you feel like you really are immersed in the action and are about to be crushed by a flying car.

In terms of the villain of No Time to Die, Rami Malek’s Safin almost feels like a cameo. It takes at least to the half way mark of the (almost three hour-long) film to see his face and while he does the job of being threatening and eerie with his monologues, it’s the technology he plans to use that is far more terrifying. The villain shouldn’t come second to their end-of-the-world-ploy but here he does. The technology Bond and MI6 have set out to stop is the world-ending kind and perhaps it’s because of what we have all lived through these past two year makes the device seem all the more real and scary.

The relationship between Bond and Madeline is a core part of this film, and Bond’s motivations. However, personally I’ve never really seen the chemistry between Craig and Seydoux. While they both give good performances individually, when together something doesn’t quite click.

Welcome additions to the franchise are Lashana Lynch’s Nomi, a double-oh agent who has not so friendly banter with Bond, and Ana de Armas’ Paloma, an agent Bond briefly teams up with in Cuba. Nomi and Bond work well together on screen as while they are both highly trained operatives, she is more of a soldier and willing to follow orders compared to Bond’s more rogue-nature. Paloma is an absolute delight and like a breath of fresh air and it’s a shame we only get her for such a brief amount of time. She is young but capable and so much fun – her fight scenes were different and interesting compare to Bond’s and show her physicality as she throws guns at men’s heads as well as just shooting at them.

While No Time to Die is certainly a very good send off for Daniel Craig’s James Bond, it does leave you wondering the fate of other characters like Ben Whishaw’s Q and Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny. This is unfortunate and for me a bit of a bugbear as the wider MI6 cast that have been surrounding Craig’s Bond for so long is something I’ve really come to enjoy. It’s their interactions with Bond and each other that have made MI6 feel more real and the whole thing more grounded as James Bond does have a team behind him, whether or not he actually listens to them/goes to them for help is besides the point.

No Time to Die is action-packed and often thrilling. While it doesn’t have a memorable villain and the plot does feel a bit convoluted at times, Daniel Craig’s performance is what pulls everything together and manages to keep the film on track. 3/5.

REVIEW: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

When the IMF is implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, it’s shut down and all agents are disavowed. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team are on their own as they race against time to clear their organisations name and stop a potential nuclear war.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is a thrill ride from the very beginning and the action never really stops. It does so many things right. The humour, which generally comes from all the fantastic characters and their interactions, lands every time, giving you a short rest bite before the next tense action sequence begins.

With Ethan this time are Agents Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Jane Carter (Paula Patton), and analyst William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) who has his own secrets. These four characters gel together very well, and the chemistry between the four of them makes them feel like a solid team. And they need to be a solid team as just about everything that can go wrong with their mission does. The tech is faulty, they must improvise, and they have no back up.

The iconic stunt in Ghost Protocol is Ethan scaling the side of the Burj Khalifa and it looks incredible. The heights he’s at is enough to make anyone feel queasy. The whole sequence in the Burj Khalifa, both the stunt itself and everything else that happens in that building, manages to be tense, funny and exciting. It’s not just the big stunts that look good, the fight sequences are all well-shot and easy to follow.

While naturally Ethan Hunt is the lead, and Tom Cruise is the star, of this franchise, Ghost Protocol is the first film in the series where the team does indeed feel like a team that solves the problem together. Each character has multiple times to shine and show off their skills which is great. It’s not only the core team that are relevant and interesting, it’s the secondary characters too. Naturally some get more screen time than others, but you’re never bored when Russian agent Sidorov (Vladimir Mashkov) or assassin Moreau (Léa Seydoux) are on screen.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is fantastic. The characters are brilliant, the action sequences are gripping, and it’s a film that never really slows the pace. It’s a non-stop action thrill ride with likeable character who you want to see succeed when all the odds are against them. It’s the best. 5/5.