In No Time to Die, we have the usual 007 standbys. We have mystery, exotic locales, excellent cinematography, kick-ass editing, beautiful good people and twisted evil people. There are a few conspicuous changes.
The James Bond we have known and been amused by is no longer a seducer for fun and a celebrant of casual sex. Oh, no, Bond is now with Madeleine Swann, his fiancee or partner or significant other. When they travel to Italy, Maddie hardly contains herself long enough to attack James behind their hotel room door. Maddy has secrets. We have seen a hitman walk through the frozen landscape to kill Madeleine and her mother years before. Apparently, Madeleine’s father is an elite murderer. The hitman is wearing a Kabuki mask, a rather Asian touch to the Phantom of the Opera motif.
Lea Seydoux is Madeleine Swann, home invasion survivor and outstanding psychologist years after she and Bond are attacked in Italy. She appears to work at a drab mental hospital where billionaire Lyutsifer Safin (an extremely creepy Rami Malek, duly scarred) comes to be analysed. Really? Talk about slumming. Cristophe Waltz makes an appearance as Blofeld, Bond’s arch enemy. We see him loony as a hatpin, talking to his hands in his cell, only later to speak cogently and elliptically to Bond. Say what? Moving along, we meet the new “M” with Ralph Fiennes in the role. “M” is now a hopeless alcoholic who lives on whiskey. An intriguing subtext occurs when Bond is called into “M”s office. Bond insults him, with “M” getting all in a tizzy, and he petulantly cries, “How dare you speak to me in such a fashion!” It comes across more as a lover’s spat.
Speaking of lovers, we get an absolutely fabulous moment from Ben Wishaw as “Q”. Forget “Quartermaster,” and replace it with “Queer.” It turns out that the premise of the film is world domination, naturally, but this time using nanorobots carrying a DNA-tailored plague. Of course, “Q” is on top of it. Miss Moneypenny for once leaves her office to chaperone Bond on his visit to “Q”s stylish flat. Miss Moneypenny ejaculates,”it smells lovely in here,” perhaps talking about the food, or about “Q”. Bond phallically clasps a wine bottle and asks, “Expecting someone?” It is now that “Q” says that “he” will be here any minute, and to not spoil this dinner since he has been trying to seduce a guy for weeks. YES! Mr. Wishaw has admitted in Wikipedia that he has always wanted “Q” to come out, and now that he has, he feels that is all that he needs to say about the character. We hope not. We need a Queer “Q” for future 007 films. Indeed, most of the few jokes in this 163 minute film are with “Q”. “Q”s cats are a strange, hairless, Egyptian variety. Bond quips, “You know, they usually come with hair.” The only other worthwhile quip is when the new lady 007 (Bond has retired to gay-hating Jamaica) goes straight into Bond’s bedroom, and rips off her wig. Bond drily replies, “That’s not exactly the first thing I expected that You would take off.” Hilarious. Don’t miss the running gag of the bionic eye. Delicious.
An intriguing sideline adventure is the fabulous actress Ana de Armas who conquers as Paloma, a CIA agent sent to help Bond. This knockout is first seen in a dive bar wearing a $100,000 couture dress, with only a ribbon for a bra. She downs martinis in a single gulp and kills six men with her hands and high heels, all while looking totally fabulous. You may think that she would be perfect as the next 007. And you would be right.
The action is as we would expect. Car chases, motorcycle chases, helicopters, anarchists walking down skyscrapers, lots of explosions, shootings, blood lust, grisly facial explosions, and … well, you get the idea. One serious plot twist includes an adorable moppet, who always seems to attract danger. Some of you may shout, no, no! Sentimental dreck. You would be correct. The conclusion of this film becomes a Wagnerian opus, with James Bond as Brunnhilde in The Twilight of the Gods.
You owe it to yourselves as LGBTQ connoiseurs to see this shameless $500 million plus opus, this kaleidoscope of kitsch, genius, and excitement.