Film Review: “No Time to Die”

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

If there was one film in Hollywood that suffered from the collateral damage that came as a result of COVID-19, it was Daniel Craig’s last venture 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 is only now seeing theaters over a year later.

“No Time to Die” follows Bond after the events of the previous film “Spectre.” Having left the queen’s service to be with Bond’s lover Madeleine Swan (Léa Seydoux), he is pulled back into duty when his and Madeleine’s past catches up with them. Long-time Bond fans will recognize some staples of the franchise. His iconic Aston Martin makes its entrance in the opening action sequence accessorized with guns, bombs and other fancy features. 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 does not disappoint. The rest of the movie has amazing set pieces filled with memorable moments. For example, Bond fights his way up a staircase in a one-shot that keeps you in the moment the entire time. The seamless edits that hide the cuts immerse you in the gritty brutal fight and build tension with each minute that passes. In true spy fashion they spend a lot of time criss-crossing across the globe to places like Jamaica— a nod to Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, who owned property in Jamaica.

One of the best action scenes takes place in Cuba when Bond is partnered with fresh faced Paloma (Ana de Armas). de Armas’ performance is a breath of fresh air, despite her short-lived part. Her 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 along with other returning characters such as M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and our favorite quartermaster, Q (Ben Whishaw). With a large cast of both new and familiar faces, it seems like it would be very hard to fit everyone in. However, as we learned from ensemble cast films like “Ocean’s 11” and “Avengers: Endgame”, nothing is impossible and Fukunaga and Co. do, in fact, make it work.

New to the franchise, along with Paloma, is the newly instated agent 007 Nomi (Natasha Lynch). Nomi is introduced as a supporting character and a new agent but she shows early on she is very capable at her job, and at times, might be even better than Bond. Even though her insistence on having Bond know she is the new 007 might get old after a while, it fuels the antagonistic partnership between her and Bond, which makes for funny banter and a friendly rivalry. Although it is unclear what direction the Bond franchise will be heading in now that Craig is finished, 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 side characters were a blast to watch, I unfortunately can not say the same about “No Time to Die”’s antagonist Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). Casting Rami Malek as this titular villain seemed to be the only interesting part about the character. Despite the fact that he shows up in the very first scene and has a major part in Swan’s past, he is very underused. Not only is he not given nearly enough screen time, but his motivations for wanting to kill half the world (via complicated blood related nanobots) does not carry any weight. Safin seems to be following the trend of underused Bond villains following Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld in “Spectre,” who also appears in this film and is again, underutilized.

Despite its shortcomings, “No Time to Die” was an exhilarating, fun, and action packed blockbuster that finally got to see the light of day. Craig, Fukunaga and Universal put their all into Craig’s last venture as James Bond. Craig’s performance was not only great, but felt like he genuinely enjoyed making it. His performance sends fans off with what I think is a heart-tugging and fitting farewell.

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

Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

2 thoughts on “Film Review: “No Time to Die”

  1. Not many, if any reviews I agree with, but this is on target. To be blunt, the problem here is this film was made in a “woke” environment. Too much was put on not upsetting any one in particular and sadly, its direction and ultimate outcome was not what it could have been.
    I prayed for Martin Campbell to come back from the past. He directed Casino Royal and I do believe to this day, given cart blanche in all areas to direct this from beginning to end with no holds bared, he would have made it epic, rather than just “good”.

    This was as good as it could have been given the pressure every one was under do make it a finale. Martin Campbell re envisioned Bond, and some where, what he started was lost. Skyfall brought it back, but another mistake was killing off Judy Dench. Never before has such chemistry existed between two superb actors. She was and always will be Bond’s conscience and his mentor. Sam Mendes did extraordinarily well with Skyfall, but he too, after such success was under too much pressure to make Specter as good if not better. I think if Campbell and Mendes could have alternated each movie, well… you know what could have been…

    “Christ I miss the Cold War”

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