Craig’s Bond comes out in the big, brash “No Time to Die”
Welcome back, Mr. Bond. This is your most important mission to date. The fate of the movie industry depends on your success.
That’s what it feels like, anyway, so high are the industry’s expectations of “No Time to Die”. The 25th James Bond Adventure is finally hitting screens a year and a half after its originally slated April 2020 release date, and is at the heart of Hollywood’s hopes of drawing pandemic-weary audiences to theaters.
Moviegoers certainly get their money’s worth in Daniel Craig’s fifth and final adventure as the suave but now-beaten secret agent. At 2 hours 43 minutes, it’s the longest movie in the series to date. Tall, brash, explosive, and at times even tender, the film gives an affectionate nod to the spy series’ past while moving – somewhat – into a more diverse, less male-dominated and Eurocentric era.
And it certainly offers a respite from the tired reality. The coronavirus does not trouble the world of James Bond in “No time to die”. However, there are many other things, from terrifying biological weapons to family heirlooms of violence.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the first American to be entrusted with this precious British export, the film opens with two sequences with surprisingly different tones. The first is an icy Scandinavian horror vignette, beautifully shot by cinematographer Linus Sandgren, which features themes of endangered children and poisoned legacies that will ripple through the film.
The second sequence offers one of those brief romances that Bond is sometimes allowed to. Bond is withdrawn from the world of espionage and relaxes in Italian splendor with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). Soon, however, the accents of Billie Eilish’s theme song swell over the opening credits, and Bond is back on more familiar and dangerous ground.
All is not well in the world. There are tensions in the UK-US spy relationship and a deadly feud between international bad guys. Bond Specter’s former nemesis and a rival crew fight for control of Heracles, a biological weapon targeting DNA that could wipe out humanity. (A potential killer in us: maybe the real world isn’t that far away after all.)
From there, it’s an extended yet paced thriller with a plot that twists like a double helix. All Bond films are made from essentially the same ingredients; what sets them apart is the chemistry of their combination. “No Time to Die” has all the required elements: beautiful places, from Cuba to Norway to beautiful cold London. There are some wonderful cars, including, of course, a classic supercharged Aston Martin. There’s some cool and slightly ridiculous tech: Nanobots and a Bionic Eye are both featured prominently.
Screenwriters Fukunaga, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge – some humorous moments on the left seem to bear the imprint of the creator of “Fleabag” – polish the recipe satisfactorily.
Female characters who are there to kick ass rather than tempt Bond include the unfazed CIA agent of Ana de Armas and Nomi of Lashana Lynch, a black double-O spy who has no time for patriarchal platitudes. by Bond.
There is a respectful but playful sense of the six decades of the show. Craig delivers some of the required lines – “Bond. James Bond ”- with a touch of Roger Moore’s raised eyebrow. The bad guys speak Russian. Rami Malek’s facial scarred villain, Lyutsifer Safin, lurks around a brutalist bunker that Dr. No would be proud of.
Malek gives a performance full of silent menace, although a British charity, Changing Faces, has berated the filmmakers for equating disfigurement with evil.
The film has a farewell feel, “let’s bring the group together once more,” as Bond enlists former comrades – including Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw’s Q – to destroy the weapon of mass destruction.
It’s Craig’s swan song as Bond, a role he has played since “Casino Royale” in 2006. The characters frequently refer to Bond’s supposed decrepitude, though he seems almost indestructible in them. entertaining, if at times visually chaotic, action sequences.
Craig brought a well-received musculature to the piece, and also a sensitivity that is particularly evident here. He’s a Bond who reflects on his mistakes and even – panting – talks about his feelings. One of the most enduring characters in the cinematic universe has evolved.
Seems like a good place to end. By the explosive finale, it’s clear that “No Time to Die” closes a chapter, if not the story, of James Bond.
“No Time to Die,” an MGM release in US theaters on October 8, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for footage of violence and action, disturbing imagery, brief strong language, and suggestive material. Duration: 163 minutes. Three out of four stars.
MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents are strongly cautioned. Some content may be inappropriate for children under 13.