REVIEW: ‘No Time To Die’ Serves As An Emotional, Sprawling Finale For Daniel Craig’s James Bond

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No Time to Die - But Why Tho

No Time To Die is an MGM/Eon Productions film directed and co-written by Cary Joji Fukunaga. It serves as both the 25th entry in the James Bond franchise, as well as Daniel Craig‘s final time playing the super spy. Picking up after the end of Spectre, the film finds Bond attempting to live a quiet life with Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux). However, a ghost from Madeline’s past surfaces in the form of Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), which drives a wedge between her and Bond. Bond is drawn back into service by MI6 to stop Safin from unleashing a deadly bioweapon that will decimate the world’s population, with old allies and enemies along for the ride.

The biggest draw of Craig’s take on Bond was that he brought a sense of humanity to the role; this was a Bond who suffered heartbreak, who felt the weight of time closing in on him. It seems only fitting that his final film has him come full circle, as he learns that the woman he loves has secrets of her own. Craig slips back into the role with a dry wit and a quiet fury that bubbles to the surface in certain scenes; I honestly haven’t seen this energy from him since Casino Royale. Bond fans will also appreciate the nods to various staples in the series, such as Bond’s trademark vodka martinis (served shaken, not stirred) along with his tuxedo and gadgets including a watch that generates electromagnetic pulses.

Another standout of the film is its action sequences. Fukunaga starts off strong by literally blowing up the tomb of Bond’s first love, Vesper Lynd; this leads to a high-octane car chase through the streets of Italy. There’s also a shootout in Cuba and a tense chase scene through a forest laden with mist. The best action scene comes in the climax, where Bond makes his way up a staircase while dispatching several goons. Fukunaga became well-known for his single-take sequences during the first sequence of True Detective, so I applaud him for applying that same energy to the Bond franchise.

Where the film falls short is its supporting cast, which is a shame because No Time To Die has one of the best casts I’ve seen in a Bond movie. M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) return to help Bond in his final adventure; Craig has the best rapport with them, as well as newly minted 007 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch). The internet…well, did what the internet does when Lynch was first announced to be playing 007 in the film; however, Nomi and Bond rightfully point out that 007 is just a number and are willing to work together to fight Safin’s forces. Other characters including Bond’s old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and archenemy Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) are woefully underused. Even Ana de Armas is shortchanged as CIA agent Paloma; she shows up for the Cuba setpiece and then disappears. Fans of Craig and de Armas’s rapport in Knives Out will probably be put out by this-I should know, I’m one of them.

The characters who are the most underserved happen to be Madeline and Safin, which is not good because those two have the strongest connection to Bond. Craig and Seydoux barely had chemistry in Spectre, so I’m less inclined to believe that Bond is truly in love with Madeline. And Malek is hardly one of the great Bond villains; he makes pretentious, rambling speeches about becoming the “invisible god” that directs mankind’s fate, with each line delivered in a stage whisper. Fukunaga, along with co-writers Neal Wade, Robert Purvis, & Phoebe Waller-Bridge, makes the mistake of giving Safin the same Malthusian goals that most villains have shared in recent blockbusters. Suffice it to say, I hope this is the last time an antagonist decides to cull the population out of some misguided motives.

No Time To Die serves as a solid finale for Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond, with his performance and the action sequences making up for a sprawling runtime and unwieldy screenplay. If you’re a fan of Craig’s Bond, you’ll definitely want to see this on the biggest screen possible. If you’ve been ambivalent to the recent stretch of Bond films, I’d suggest waiting until the next Bond is announced.

No Time To Die will premiere in theaters nationwide on October 8, 2021.


No Time To Die
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

No Time To Die serves as a solid finale for Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond, with his performance and the action sequences making up for a sprawling runtime and unwieldy screenplay. If you’re a fan of Craig’s Bond, you’ll definitely want to see this on the biggest screen possible. If you’ve been ambivalent to the recent stretch of Bond films, I’d suggest waiting until the next Bond is announced.