Film review: “No time to die”

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Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in “No Time to Die”, offering fans an action-packed adventure as he says a final farewell to the role that defined his career.

If there is one movie in Hollywood that has suffered collateral damage from COVID-19, it is Daniel Craig’s latest adventure as James Bond in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s film “No Time to Die”. The film’s initial release date was set for April 2020 and didn’t hit theaters until more than a year later.

“No Time to Die” follows Bond after the events of the previous film “Specter”. Having left the Queen’s service to be with Bond’s lover, Madeleine Swan (Léa Seydoux), he is brought back to the service when his and Madeleine’s past catches up with them. Longtime Bond fans will recognize some basic elements of the franchise. His iconic Aston Martin enters the opening action sequence accessorized with guns, bombs and other whimsical elements. The opening action scene is filled with adrenaline-fueled scenes including motorcycles and car chases. It sets the stage for the film as the action-packed blockbuster it promises to be and it doesn’t disappoint. The rest of the movie has incredible sets filled with memorable moments. For example, Bond makes his way down a staircase in a one-shot that keeps you in the moment all the time. The seamless edits that hide the cuts immerse you in brutal, rough combat and create tension with every passing minute. Like a real spy, they spend a lot of time traveling the world to places like Jamaica, a nod to Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, who owned a property in Jamaica.

One of the best action scenes takes place in Cuba when Bond is teamed up with the fresh-faced Paloma (Ana de Armas). De Armas’s performance is a breath of fresh air, despite his short-lived role. His chemistry with Craig from the critically acclaimed film “Knives Out” definitely carried over to this project. The return of Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter was also a welcome addition with other returning characters such as M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and our favorite Quartermaster, Q (Ben Whishaw). With a large number of new and familiar faces, it seems like it would be very difficult to fit everyone in. However, as we’ve learned from ensemble films like “Ocean’s 11” and “Avengers: Endgame,” nothing is impossible and Fukunaga and Co. are, in fact, making it work.

New to the franchise, along with Paloma, is the newly appointed agent 007 Nomi (Natasha Lynch). Nomi is introduced as a supporting character and a new agent, but she shows early on that she is very competent at her job and can be even better than Bond at times. Even though her insistence that Bond know she’s the new 007 might get old after a while, it fuels the antagonistic partnership between her and Bond, which creates some fun jokes and a friendly rivalry. While it’s not clear which direction the Bond franchise will be heading now that Craig is done, it would be great to see Nomi as the new 007 as it would bring a different take on the iconic role. While the protagonists and supporting characters were a pleasure to watch, sadly I can’t say the same for “No Time to Die” antagonist Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). Casting Rami Malek as the titular villain seemed like the only interesting part of the character. Despite appearing in the very first scene and playing a major role in Swan’s past, he’s very underused. Not only is he not being given enough screen time, his motives for wanting to kill half the world (via complicated blood-related nanobots) carry no weight. Safin appears to be following the trend of underused Bond villains after Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld in “Specter,” which also appears in this film and is underused again.

Despite its flaws, “No Time to Die” was an exhilarating, fun, and action-packed blockbuster that finally got off the ground. Craig, Fukunaga and Universal staked it all on Craig’s latest adventure as James Bond. Craig’s performance was not only excellent, but he felt like he really enjoyed doing it. Her performance sends fans out with what I think is a heart-wrenching and fitting farewell.

Rating: B +
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
With: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris
Release Date: October 8, 2021
Rated: PG-13

Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.


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