No Time to Die (2021) movie review

No Time to Die trailer

Rating: 3/5 (only because of Daniel Craig, otherwise 2/5)

Time: 2 hours, 43 minutes

Cast: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ana de Aramas

In terms of plot, No Time to Die has nothing new to offer. It is the basic “world is in danger and only James Bond can save it” story line. While everyone agrees that saving the world is James Bond’s job, the movie’s writers have been lazy using the same rehashed plots we’ve seen in previous movies.

The villain doesn’t scare us

Specifically, the villain (Lyutsifer Safin played by Rami Malek) could easily be replaced by anybody else and it will not lead to a different outcome. Safin has developed a bio-chemical weapon that can kill particular individuals based on their DNA. Now, the reason he wants to kill half the world’s population is the same inane reason almost any ordinary villain in an average movie has – there is no specific reason. Maybe it’s because he can?

Another big hole in the plot – Lyutsifer Sarin has an axe to grind with Bond’s love interest Madeleine Swann (played by Lea Seydoux). Her father, the mysterious Mr White (killer on hire and member of the secretive organisation, Spectre) is responsible for the mass killing of Sarin’s family. So, he wants to kill Mr White’s family in revenge. Yet when the opportunity presents itself to kill Madeleine Swann multiple times, he does not take it. Clearly, plot and storyline are not the movie’s strong point. It is left to James Bond and his supporting constellation of stars to prop up the movie with their performances.

No Time to Die

Who will be the next Bond?

As the new 007, Nomi (played by Lashana Lynch) does not get a meaty role that showcases her character’s style. After all that is what made James Bond special – his style. While she can easily pull off individual action sequences, can she hold up an entire movie? The producers and writers will really need to work on the Nomi character to develop her individual style, quirks, interesting back story….the works. In contrast, Paloma (played by Ana de Aramas) a character that was present for all of 15 minutes on screen had so much more charisma, funnier and wittier dialogues, and irreverent approach to saving the world. Just like James Bond.

In his last outing as 007, Daniel Craig’s opening scenes in No Time to Die, clearly reflect the 15 years the actor has spend playing James Bond. Weary facial lines show up in the close-ups and you realise he is getting old. Perhaps that is why the actor decided to call it a day. The producers have been tight-lipped about the future of the James Bond character- will it be replaced by a female agent? Or will it be another male agent?

Arguably, Daniel Craig has been the best Bond ever. But to have no Bond at all? Ian Fleming must be turning in his grave….

The Courier movie review (2021)

Where to watch: Streaming on bookmyshow.com

The Courier trailer

Rating: 3/5

Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Angus Wright, Vladimir Chuprikov

Oftentimes, the contribution of less famous men and women in changing the course of history goes unreported or unrecognised. The Courier narrates one such story of the sacrifices made by two men in averting a nuclear war during the Cuban Missile crisis in the 1960s.

The Courier tells the real-life story of Greville Wynne (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), a British businessman, who gets roped into being a go-between a Russian mole and British and American intelligence. The story reminds one of Tom Hanks’ Bridge of Spies, another true story of getting a civilian to do spy work.

Since the CIA had very little presence in the USSR, they got British Mi6 to recruit Wynne to do business in Moscow. In Wynne’s words, he was only “an ordinary salesman with no connection to the government.” This put him above suspicion on business trips to the USSR. In Moscow, his contact was Oleg Penkovsky (played by Merab Ninidze) a member of the Soviet military intelligence. Penkovsky passed on tremendous amount of information to the British and the Americans, especially about the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. His information enabled Kennedy to call Krushchev’s bluff in Cuba and avoided a Third (perhaps last) World War.

Unlike a Bond spy thriller, there are no action scenes or gun fights in The Courier. But as often happens in real-life, history is made by men with a conscience who are willing to sacrifice their happiness for the greater good of mankind.

Friends Reunion: a remarkable and nostalgic journey

Streaming on ZEE5

Friends Reunion streaming on ZEE5

It has been 17 years and its like they never left us….full of emotion and nostalgia, the Friends Reunion was an emotional roller coaster down memory lane.

All of the cast members have only met once in the past 17 years. Busy careers meant that they were only able to meet 2 or 3 people at a time. So, for Courtney Cox, Jennifer Anniston, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Mathew Perry and David Schwimmer, it was a special reunion. Not a single cast member had a dry eye! It was also special for fans who got to relive the fun, laughter and tears.

Hosted by James Corden, the Reunion episode was unscripted and shot in front of a live audience. The iconic fountain in the opening credits of the show served as the background and the cast members sat on the famous orange couch.

James Corden with Friends cast members

We were also introduced to the producers of the show – Marta Kauffman, David Crane and Kevin Bright who were in the audience. All three of them were friends before they made the show and in many ways, it was a reflection of their own time living in New York City as friends.

The Reunion episode showcased fans from all over the world – from India, Ghana, Germany and Slovakia who spoke about how the show impacted their lives. This is what set Friends apart from other shows – it appealed to a wide range of people from different cultures. It was genuinely funny and the go-to place for anyone in a dark place in their lives.

Celebrities make special appearances on the Reunion show

Cara Delevingne, English model and actress, walked the ramp in Rachel Green’s iconic pink bridesmaid’s dress, complete with the wardrobe malfunction! This was the episode where Rachel goes to her ex, Barry’s, wedding.

Justin Bieber walked the ramp in Ross’ famous ‘Spudnik’ costume.

David Beckham said Friends made him smile and he thought he was most like Monica because he is a neat freak himself. K-pop band, BTS, said that Friends taught them to speak in English. Lady Gaga made a special appearance along with Lisa Kudrow to sing ‘Smelly Cats’.

Malala Yusufzai made a special appearance with her best friend and said they enjoyed watching the show together.

The one where everybody agreed Ross and Rachel were on a break

This was a recurring theme on multiple seasons of the show. Ross and Rachel disagreed they were on a break and that they could start dating other people. The other cast members had to take sides. In the Reunion episode, everyone is in agreement that the two were on a break.

The Friends cast were paid $3-4 million each for the Reunion episode, according to reports in various news media. Back in 2004, for Season 10, each cast member got $1 million per episode.

Where can I watch Friends?

All 10 seasons of Friends (1994-2004) are available on Netflix. This iconic show may have been created in the 1990s but its popularity continues till date. In case you are interested in the Friends spinoff show, Joey, then the first season is available on Amazon Prime. The spinoff show follows the adventures of Joey as he furthers his acting career in Hollywood.

Where to watch Friends Reunion in India?

Almost 17 years after the last episode of Friends was aired, the fabulous six are getting back together again. This time they will be joined by a galaxy of celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, David Beckham, BTS, James Corden, Cindy Crawford, Cara Delevingne, Mindy Kaling, and Malala Yusufzai. Some regulars on the Friends show will also be making an appearance, including Tom Selleck who played Monica’s boyfriend and Maggie Wheeler who played Janice, Chandler Bing’s girlfriend. Reese Witherspoon, who played Rachel’s sister in one episode will also make a special appearance.

Friends was a much-loved companion for those of us growing up in the nineties and even later. It continued to be a popular sitcom well into the 2000’s and 2010’s as reruns of the show continued to air on TV and later on OTT platforms. It is, by far, the most popular TV show in history.

The much-awaited Friends Reunion is being live-streamed by HBO Max but in India, you can watch it exclusively on ZEE5. And while you countdown to 12:32 pm on May 27th, you can watch all 10 seasons of the iconic series on Netflix.