Craig with Ana de Armas in a classic Bond scene where vodka martinis are knocked back in between shoot outs

Over long, ponderous and difficult to follow at times. In fact, there’s lots of time to die in No Time To Die, as the latest Bond movie stretched out at two hours and forty three minutes – and with the adverts for local garages and soft furnishing establishments three hours or more. At least the adverts are too the point.

No Time to Die is the latest James Bond movie inspired by the novels of Ian Fleming and stars Daniel Craig as the secret agent 007 and is directed by Cary Joii Fukunaga in a reincarnation of the fictional British MI5 operative. It’s been heralded as one of the best of the genre with record ticket receipts and five star reviews from the critics – I beg to differ.

There is a lot to be said for brevity and this is a film that needs a trim. The whole love story between James and Madeleine is a stretch with James played by a craggy 53-year-old Daneil Craig and Léa Seydoux as French psychologist 35, reprising their roles from the previous Bond movies. The story hinges on the secret organisation SPECTRE’s attempts to silence Lea’s daughter who witnessed her mother’s murder as the evil organisation sets out for world domination with their new DNA weapon.

Long-suffering child actor Lisa-Dorah Sonnet as Mathilde must somehow survive the traumas of killings, shoot-outs and extra-judicial murders as she spends much of the movie clasping onto her cuddly toy and hidin. Social workers would surely have intervened in the first few minutes but this is a Bond movie where the list of stunt actors are more than the numbers in the cast. Baddies are shot with consummate ease by Bond girl Ana de Armas who dispatches them with a burst of a sub-machine gun or a kick from her heeled sandals.

Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin is the evil Bond baddie but doesn’t get to say the line ‘I’ve been expecting you Mr Bond’ but spends much of his time in a strange world where purple clad employees hold fluorescence light bulbs in cellars filled with water on a secret island.

We have a rather assertive new 007 in the shape of Nomi played by Lashan Lynch since James has quit the service. There’s the gay Q played by Ben Whishaw who is given a leading if not very funny role as the man with the gadgets. Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny is denied any flirtation with James but works as M’s secretary (a grumpy Ralph Fiennes) but is at least on the side of 007 in his battles with authority.

The highlights are the action sequences: Range Rovers driven by bad people are tipped over in the woods, there are shoot outs in bracken covered woodland and Italian villages, and Bond shoots with ease numerous heavily armed troops in post-industrial buildings in just a shirt and braces. Who needs flak jackets when storming an enemy HQ?

It’s all a bit serious with few jokes. Craig barely cracks a smile and is certainly not new father material for frightened Mathilde who looks petrified when ever he talks to her.

With long pauses and symphonic music to add to the drama the movie is long and drawn out without any added effect. I forgive all the shooting and explosions but is it a crime not to speed up the story – after all we have waited 18 months for the screening due to the Covid-19 crisis – and action movies like the Bourne Conspiracy simply get on with it. Despite the plaudits (possibly caused by the sheer relief that No Time To Die has been released) I rate this as a below par Bond movie.

Harry Mottram