No Time to Die will debut in international theaters on September 30 and in the United States on October 8.
A global pandemic is exactly the kind of obstacle you would expect 007 to face, but not in the most literal form. But ultimately, after nearly two years of delays in theaters, No Time to Die has arrived on the big screen, and that’s exactly where the Daniel Craig-era concluding film is also worth watching. An explosive and emotional adventure, this is yet another Bond film classically calibrated for theaters. Sadly, however, it’s torn between offering modern thrills and old-school tropes, making it a patchy watch. As such, No Time to Die functions as a reasonable and pleasant farewell to Craig, but fails to exceed the strengths of the saga.
As you might expect for its swansong release, No Time to Die is a showcase of everything Craig has brought to Bond. A well-shaken cocktail that is both grizzled and emotional at the same time, it continues to work as an 007 that overturns the classic mold of the character, even as the film surrounding him is stubbornly determined to lean back to the old school. As a fighter, he is pleasantly brutal, still the blunt instrument of Britain and rejecting any sense of elegance in the line of duty. But Craig will be best remembered for turning a gun into a human, and No Time to Die doubles that idea. Here he runs through the whole gamut of emotions, from authentic moments of happiness and love to fury and even sadness. Craig handles all of this with incredible skill, leaving behind the unshakeable impression that he was not just the right Bond for modern times, but the best of all.
He is able to do this although No Time to Die is too sure and unsurprisingly an exit for 007. It is a film at war with itself; In many ways, this is a completely modern Bond film, but too often it seems like it ticks off the franchise’s tropes in a way that makes No Time to Die seem like it is enslaved to the franchise. past rather than just paying homage. The result is a story that connects all of the dense plot threads that came through the Craig era, but also attempts to tell a stand-alone story that feels like it was pulled from the 1960s. The former is compelling, but the latter is shallow and drab. , and although these components are elegantly intertwined, the story structure squeezes the best elements into the first hour of a film that lasts a gargantuan 163 minutes.
To director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s credit, No Time to Die is never as long as its runtime. It moves forward at a steady pace, especially in the incredibly twisty opening act, and introduces new concepts with every major turn. As he does, he is still handsome; there are beautiful wide shots of Italy that are quite close in sepia tone, a sequence in Norway where you can practically feel the chill of the ice, and a forest chase shrouded in so much fog and tension that it becomes something akin to a horror scene. There’s some accomplished, hard-hitting action too, especially when it comes to the series’ car chases. A first streak featuring the Aston Martin DB5 stuffed with Bond’s gadgets is an absolute belt and arguably the best use of a series vehicle since Casino Royale won a world record for flipping its DBS seven times in a row. But while the direction is strong, there is nothing more memorable or special than Sam Mendes’ work on Skyfall. I can’t help but wonder if Fukunaga is hampered by the lore of the show, which perhaps has no tolerance for something as adventurous as his efforts on True Detective and Maniac.
He might not be able to show off his more unique directorial muscles, but Fukunaga orchestrates a cast of new and familiar characters who, for the most part, perform at the top of their game. One of the best assets of this era is the interpersonal relationships between Bond and the people he works with, and that’s more evident than ever here. There is a great conflict between Bond and his MI6 boss, M (Ralph Fiennes), who helps advance a morally messy plot. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld returns and while he’s unambiguously portrayed as Bond’s Hannibal Lecter, the duo’s interactions are both incredibly aggressive and pleasantly humorous. Ana de Armas, whose energetic CIA agent Paloma, Chaotic Good, opens up Craig’s most endearing side. She’s the best non-Bond character in the whole movie, which makes her fleeting appearance a missed opportunity.
Bond’s closest connections in No Time to Die are reserved for Madeleine Swann by LÃ©a Seydoux, who returns from Specter, and Nomi by Lashana Lynch. Seydoux’s grim performance fails to captivate, but the love between Swann and Bond does, especially when haunted by the shadow of James’ former lover, Vesper Lynd. There is a genuine sense of difficulty in their relationship, and while a few important details seem touched on rather than thoroughly explored, their romance nonetheless serves to make Bond incredibly human. If that all sounds a bit too much for an action flick, it is made up for by Lynch’s new Agent 00, who acts as both a fun rival and a valuable partner for Bond. The feuds between the two can be a bit intense at times, but when at their best, jokes keep the rivalry alive and fun. It is something that applies at all levels; No time to die is a lot funnier than the brooding farewell I expected.
No time to die Gallery
Not funny at all is Rami Malek’s villain, Safin, who is less of a character and more of a backstory in human form. Armed with next to nothing beyond Bond tropes tired of a genocidal weapon, a foreign accent, and a disfigured face, Safin is an underdeveloped and uninteresting foe. Yet, disconcertingly, the story is so enthralled with him that it sacrifices the chance to provide a satisfying and meaningful ending to Bond’s long-standing conflicts that began in Casino Royale. It is this trade that ultimately hurts No Time to Die the most; while the film still remains enjoyable, its focus is so stereotypical that during the second half it rarely resembles the momentous last chapter of the Craig era that it should be.