No Time To Die: An action-packed, ambitious, and satisfying swan song for Daniel Craig’s tenure as 007. Craig is arguably our greatest Bond ever. An epic (overstuffed) spy adventure with heart. Craig’s conclusion gives us an emotional goodbye. Mr. Craig, I bid you farewell. Thank you.
Warning: Minor Plot Spoilers in this Review.
After being delayed three times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, No Time To Die coming to theaters has finally become a reality. I never thought I'd see the day. It was worth the 18-month wait, and I was excited that I got to finally sit in the theaters and watch it. At 53, Daniel Craig's 15-year tenure as 007 has come to a close. Mr. Craig parts ways from the tuxedos and martinis with a stylish, bombastic, and emotional farewell. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga (2015's Beasts of No Nation) strongly wraps up Mr. Craig's Bond arc with suave, action, and heart. The Craig-era took the 007 franchise into new directions. Not everything worked for these five films, but they all dared to say something. Craig's incarnation brought Bond into the 21st century, along with a more bruised and broken 007. The series also evolved Bond's past womanizing schemes and showcased what his reckless actions and misogyny could lead to. We saw this in 2006's Casino Royale, where Bond seduces a criminal's wife, Solange (played by Caterina Murino), for information.
Bond does not regard Solange's personal safety, only using her sex for intelligence, and she winds up dead in the next scene. Later in Casino, Vesper Lynd (played by the great Eva Green) exclaims to Bond: "You think of women as disposable pleasures rather than meaningful pursuits." Not only was the franchise tackling a more vulnerable Bond, but they were also confronting his treatment towards women head-on. Something past Bond films did not do. In addition, throughout these five films, we got an enormous amount of strong supporting female actors (Eva Green, Olga Kurylenko, Naomie Harris, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, and Ana de Armas). Craig's Bond-era was also the first of the franchise to complete a saga. In the past, each Bond flick has been their own story, never continuing over into the next movie. That all change when Craig took over, giving us a fully fleshed-out arc for our bruised and beaten 007. No Time To Die doesn't hit the heights of Skyfall (2012) or Casino Royale, but I would put it at No. 3 for the Craig series.
Spectre (2015) and Quantum of Solace (2008) would round out No. 4 and 5. Both Skyfall (my favorite) and Casino re-energized the nearly 60-year-old franchise with fresh missions and innovative stories. While Spectre and Quantum were both bogged down with their own shortcomings. Spectre had some extraordinary action set pieces, but it seemed to wrestle with familiar past-Bond formula and mythology. Spectre also literally tried to connect the previous three films. While Quantum was a chaotic movie in both its writing and editing. However, there were some great ideas hidden underneath Quantum, but they just never came to the surface. Nevertheless, Craig kept us intrigued and invested. No Time works as both a direct sequel to Spectre and also ties up every loose end from this five-film saga. So, in the beginning, No Time is sort of dominated by Spectre's mythical writing, but I applaud Fukunaga for embracing this started path and not departing from it. Looking at you The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
No Time was written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) came in to polish the script and add a little more well-rounded humor. So, coming off the heels of 2015's Spectre, Bond, and his new love interest, Madeleine Swann (a wonderful Seydoux) are en route to Italy. Bond, still tormented by the death of Vesper (2006's Casino), has to say a final goodbye to her grave. Bond needs closure to his pain and broken love, but the past doesn't die. Madeleine's dark past has also caught up to her, leading to a breathtaking car chase scene through the streets of Matera. This confrontation leads Bond to break it off with Madeleine and move on with his life and retirement from MI6. No Time then jumps to five years later, where Bond is living peacefully in Jamaica. Yet the world's problems do not stop, and (as usual) the world needs 007 for one final mission. Felix (a grand Jeffrey Wright) confronts Bond about a dangerous bio-weapon called "Project Heracles." This bio-weapon contains nanobots that infect someone like a virus upon touch but are coded to an individual's specific DNA.
The person behind these evil plans is a man named Safin (a creepy Rami Malek), who wants revenge on the entire SPECTRE organization for killing his family. No Time also gives us a brilliant and sinister cold opening with Safin's character confronting Madeleine's childhood home. This sequence in the icy snow sent chills down my spine. Now, Safin's character eventually molds into a generic villain who wants to take down the whole world — however — the introduction to his character was very intriguing. We also get Lashana Lynch, who plays the new 00, and Ana de Armas, who plays a CIA agent. Both Lynch and de Armas knock it out of the park with every scene they're in. I would have loved to of seen more de Armas throughout the film, but she was brilliant with her small on-screen performance. While Lynch's acting chops reign supreme throughout the picture. Her character adds new depths and layers to this old franchise. We also get some familiar friends back like Q (a brilliant Ben Whishaw), M (a stern Ralph Fiennes), Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and Tanner (Rory Kinnear).
Clocking in at 163 minutes, this is the longest Bond outing for the franchise. Overall, the film kept chugging away, but I do think it could have been trimmed down just a touch. Cinematographer Linus Sandgren (La La Land and First Man) gives us one of the most beautifully shot Bond films in the franchise (right underneath Skyfall). As well as Hans Zimmer's roaring score. You could feel every 00 beat in your bones. Fukunaga also gives us some incredible action sequences like the car chase scene in the Norway forest or an exhilarating single-take staircase fight sequence with Bond. This sequence blew me away with its tension, adrenaline, and no cuts. Craig, as usual, gives us another rousing performance as 007. One that is also incredibly emotional and heartfelt. Fukunaga also made a bold stance and took No Time in a direction that no previous Bond movie ever has. For that, I applaud him. No Time To Die is not a perfect picture, but it is satisfying, powerful, and a worthy conclusion to the Craig-era. I am excited to see where this 60-year-old franchise goes next. For now, Mr. Craig, I bid you farewell. Thank you for these last 15-years. Mission accomplished.
No Time To Die is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) Sequences of Violence & Action | Brief Strong Language | Some Disturbing Images | Some Suggestive Material.
No Time to Die had its world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 28 September 2021.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
Starring Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Rory Kinnear, David Dencik, Ana de Armas, and Billy Magnussen.
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