No Time To Die review (4K)

After several covid-related delays, No Time To Die finally hit theaters at the end of September. One of few blockbuster releases with a cinema-only release in 2021, it was a massive success, and now Daniel Craig’s final stint as James Bond is available for home viewing in 4K as well.

The rather lengthy story in No Time To Die clocks in at just under three hours and is a fitting finale to Craig’s take on the character, which essentially reinvented Bond as a much more battle-hardened super spy. At the same time, this version of James Bond has also been struggling with inner demons, remorse and a desire to walk away from it all because the load of his actions gets too much to bear.

And despite the more gritty approach to action and violence, Craig’s bond feels more relatable through his personal struggles – which of course intersect with his professional duties once more in this particular film. The protagonist’s character arc and how it’s wrapped up is the highlight of No Time To Die, an otherwise perfectly fine action thriller with a somewhat underwhelming main villain – Rami Malek’s Safin is strong enough to take out all of Spectre, yet doesn’t come across as an imposing bad guy that instills fear. Despite that, however, a story line with plenty of twists and turns and a few great set pieces makes sure an almost three hour long film flies by.

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In the HEVC H.265 encode that comes on the 4K disc, that’s especially true because of all the vivid little details and color scheme differences you’ll notice that (depending on how you watched it) weren’t as clear in the cinema version. The early scenes that take place in Southern Italy are an amazing showcase for this, and a strong argument for using real life locations rather than closed off sets. The tiniest little cracks on roads and paths can be seen here, and in wider shots the stunning scenery that surrounds this town really pops as well, with luscious green against the stone of the streets, buildings and bridges.

With support for Dolby Vision and HDR10, the color schemes used also stand out amazingly well. We’re introduced to Safin in a scene that takes place in icy cold circumstances, and for the rest of the film those cooler hues are what we keep seeing and associating with this character. There are tons of little visual touches like that to notice while, as this use of contrast doesn’t just apply to color schemes but can also be seen in the nighttime scenes where light sources really jump out and in great use of shadows. One of the most visually impressive 4K discs thus far, and one that rivals the recent Dune release as a demo-worthy disc.

No Time To Die’s 4K version comes with a Dolby Atmos audio track, and as you’d expect it’s an excellent fit for a film of this time. Hans Zimmer’s music score feels rich, but the audio really comes into its own during the film’s handful of spectacular action sequences and chases. From the opening moment in Italy to a tense battle with Safin’s troops in the woods of Norway, the blend of ambient sounds from the environment and the action that pierces it is spectacular. Even calmer scenes put you right there in the room, as conversations that are hard to make out continue around you as you focus on the scene itself. The filmmakers clearly focused a lot on creating immersive soundscapes, and their work pays off through the Atmos track. When in the woods, wind gently rustles the trees overhead as you hear hints of the wildlife that lives there, while moments later vehicles and gunfire penetrate this otherwise rustic environment.

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As excellent as the main feature is (and it’s absolutely worth the price of admission) the extras are a tad lackluster in terms of quantity. There are five features here, with four of them clocking in at around 10 minutes each. It’s pretty standard ‘making of’ material that talks about specific scenes, but the most interesting extra is the a 47 minute long special on Craig’s time as James Bond – something we’ll no doubt see again when they release a newer version of the compilation we checked out earlier. Part documentary, part ‘behind-the-scenes’, it’s a great watch for fans of Craig’s work on the character.

If you already grabbed Craig’s previous Bond films in 4K last year, then this is a great way to complete the collection. We might see more extra’s for No Time To Die and Craig’s tenure as 007 when a new boxed set comes out later, but that might be a while and this is a near-perfect version of the main feature that’s going to be hard to resist.

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