NO TIME TO DIE – soundtrack review

ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK by Hans Zimmer
With additional music by composer and score producer Steve Mazzaro.
Guitarist: Johnny Marr.
Includes the title track NO TIME TO DIE by Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell.

This discussion of the soundtrack may include what could be perceived as mild SPOILERS – as could the tracklist at the bottom of the article.  If you want to stay completely spoiler free then please go see the film on the biggest screen possible first!

Hans Zimmer is a long-term Bond fan, and his stellar soundtracks for everything from Gladiator to Man of Steel to Inception and Dune promise epic strings, loud percussion and emotional choral work.

Zimmer’s score delivers the necessary Bond elements and more.

The “Gun barrel” is great – although to be honest, is a little understated.  However, Zimmer and Marr seem to be saving all their bullets for the triumphant Bond theme which reappears in “Back to MI6”.

Zimmer also pays homage to prior Bond composers – most notably John Barry in the beautiful sweeping “Matera” which surprises with the appearance of a lovely orchestration of “We Have All The Time In The World” which Bond fans will recognise from 1969s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. David Arnold’s “City of Lovers” from “Casino Royale” also appears here (and “Vesper’s Theme” makes a haunting appearance in the film too).

The OHMSS theme also appears in “Good To Have You Back” and while some fans feel the theme is overused, and others worry that non-Bond geeks won’t get the reference to the earlier film, I think that it is a worthy inclusion.

The action beats in “Message from an Old Friend” and “Square Escape” include a thrilling return of the Bond theme and some brilliant percussion which cranks up the tension, helping to make these scenes, both from the Pre-Titles sequence, one of the strongest openings in years. The tension at the opening of “Message” is like a nightmarish horror (and while not on the soundtrack, fans should visit Steve Mazzaro’s track “Safin” released on his website, which hits like a horror movie).

And “Square Escape” is an astonishing reinvention of Bond action themes which then bleeds into those heart-wrenching strings that fans may recognise from Zimmer’s scores for “The Da Vinci Code” or “Angels and Demons”. They’ll return at the end.

It might just be me making the sounds fit my preconceptions, but I think Zimmer also acknowledges the stellar work of David Arnold’s lush romance and hectic action beats (in “Opening the Doors”, “Someone Was Here”, as well as Thomas Newman’s tense rhythms in “Norway Chase”, “Gearing Up” and “The Factory”). 

But this is no slavish retread of the cues from other composers. Zimmer weaves interpretations of the main theme “No Time to Die” throughout the score, which I always feel is the best way to accompany the action and story. No more gorgeous is the return to the theme in the track “Home”.

A highlight halfway through the soundtrack is “Cuba Chase” which accompanies one of the most swaggering, funny, thrilling and action-packed sequences in the film. While the Cuban influence will remind fans of David Arnold’s infectious “Welcome to Cuba” from “Die Another Day”, Zimmer’s track has crazy percussion and cheeky brass which helps make the Cuba sequence one of the most enjoyable sections of the film for most fans.

One of the things I love about this album is that some of the cues are quite lengthy and really allow you to lose yourself in Bond’s world.

Others may feel differently, but for me NO TIME TO DIE is a genuinely thrilling yet gorgeous album, which will get your pulse racing with “I’ll Be Right Back”, unsettle you with “Poison Garden” then in the case of “Final Ascent”, completely break your heart.

THE SOUNDTRACK IS AVAILABLE WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR SOUNTRACKS (and can be purchased on CD, cassette(!) and various special edition vinyls, as well as digital download.

Tracklist
Gun Barrel
Matera
Message From An Old Friend
Square Escape
Someone Was Here
Not What I Expected
What Have You Done?
Shouldn’t We Get To Know Each Other First
Cuba Chase
Back to MI6
Good To Have You Back
Lovely To See You Again
Home
Norway Chase
Gearing Up
Poison Garden
The Factory
I’ll Be Right Back
Opening The Doors
Final Ascent
No Time To Die

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