October 8, 2021

Review: There’s Just “No Time to Die”

While traditionally action movies, each James Bond film has their own tropes that they typically adhere to. 007 meets a beautiful woman (“Bond girls” no longer) who has some secretive tie to the film’s villain. The aforementioned villain is never alone — he always has a nefarious henchman who does his dirty work before being axed by Bond in a completely satisfying way.

No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s last outing as the MI6 super spy, is not immune to these tropes, and it definitely knows it. In fact, it also knows that this is the last time Craig will inhabit the role, so it decides to take its sweet time with seeing him off — 2 hours and 43 minutes of time, in fact. This makes it the longest Bond film in history, but the runtime surprisingly isn’t too much of an issue. The story and pacing are rapidly-paced enough so that something is always happening, and the concept of boredom isn’t allowed to exist.

Five years after Bond’s last outing, Spectre, he’s retired from the espionage game, but as is with any retired action hero, just when he thought he was out, something happens to pull him back in. This time it’s a (surprisingly timely) scheme by Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), a rather fascinating character who considers himself to be a hero akin to Bond — albeit in his own twisted way.

A heavy burden on the shoulders of No Time to Die is the responsibility of tying up the loose plot threads of Craig’s tenure as Bond — definitely the most serialized term of any actor to embody the role. The criminal organization of Spectre has been controlling every villainous plot that Craig’s Bond has encountered in the films, so it’s only right that they are given the sendoff they deserve…by being thrown to the side. Christoph Waltz also returns as Spectre’s incarcerated leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld, but he’s sidelined in favor of Rami Malek’s Safin, who I can’t quite disassociate from Malek’s sensibilities and previous roles. That's the risk of casting big-name actors in character roles, I suppose.

An outdated poster for No Time to Die.
The rest of the cast is a “greatest hits” of the last fifteen years of Bond, featuring appearances by Jeffrey Wright (introduced in 2006’s Casino Royale), Léa Seydoux (2015’s Spectre), Rory Kinnear (2008’s Quantum of Solace), Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw (all introduced in 2012’s Skyfall). Lashana Lynch joins the cast as Nomi, a new MI6 assigned the 007 number, alongside Ana de Armas as Paloma, a CIA agent who assists Bond in Cuba. The supporting cast is definitely a highlight, but Daniel Craig is in the spotlight (quite literally, in one scene). No Time to Die showcases perhaps his best performance as Bond so far, playing a more mature version of the agent who is struggling to maintain a handle on both his past and his present.

No Time to Die is by-the-numbers Bond, touring exotic locales while simultaneously beating up the bad guys and attempting to stop a nefarious, world-ending plot. Twenty-five movies later, Bond is still going strong — and he will continue to go strong for the foreseeable future. [Grade: A]

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Jeffrey Wright
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, brief strong language and some suggestive material
Available: Theaters
Fun Fact: Because of COVID-related delays, the theme song for No Time to Die (performed by Billie Eilish) was released twenty whole months before the film.

No comments:

Post a Comment