MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “No Time to Die” stars Daniel Craig (Knives Out, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Léa Seydoux (Midnight in Paris, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, Still Star-Crossed [TV series]), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb), Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out), Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Ben Wishaw (Mary Poppins Returns, Cloud Atlas), Naomie Harris (Moonlight, 28 Days Later…), Jeffrey Wright (Westworld [TV series], Shaft), Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods, The Big Short), Rory Kinnear (The Imitation Game, Penny Dreadful [TV series]), Dali Benssalah (Nox, A Faithful Man), David Dencik (McMafia, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Lisa-Dorah Sonnet, and Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, The Zero Theorem). It is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective [TV series], Beasts of No Nation), who wrote the screenplay with Neal Purvis (Johnny English, Stoned) and Robert Wade (Return to Sender, Die Another Day).
Having left active service, James Bond (Craig) has found solace in a small village of Jamaica. However, he is brought back in when a friend in the CIA presents him a case involving dangerous technology that could destroy humanity as they know it.
And so we reach the end of an era: the Daniel Craig James Bond. It’s a surprise to me that Craig signed on to do another Bond, given how after “Spectre” he said he’d rather slit his wrists than don the suit and tie again. But hey, wave enough money in a man’s face and he’ll do anything.
If any of you know me, you know that I haven’t seen many Bond films. “Spectre” was my first, and last year I finally got around to seeing “Casino Royale.” In the past, Bond movies were one-offs; you didn’t need to see one to watch another. However, the Craig iterations have become more serialized, threading characters and storylines through multiple pictures (not to mention the callbacks to the older flicks). I was lost when I saw “Spectre,” and wanted to marathon the Craig movies before seeing “No Time To Die.” Unfortunately, I was unable to, resulting in another Bond experience that had me trying to pick up the pieces. So, my review of this doesn’t really rely on the Bond films before it (sorry not sorry).
We pick up right where we left off, and if you haven’t seen “Spectre” recently, you might want to. Craig’s Bond was deemed a reinvention when he first came into the scene with “Casino Royale,” and in some respects he goes out the same way. From what I can figure, this is Bond like we’ve never seen him before. He’s fully in love with one woman, and actually kicks butt with a few other women in the field. The macho man with female object convention isn’t present with this one, which has certainly ruffled feathers with some hardcore fans. For me, I thought it was fine.
“No Time to Die” does what we would expect from a Bond feature. The cinematography is beautiful, the locations are stunning, the music is choice (Hans Zimmer is the man), and the action sequences pack a punch. What made it better was seeing it in an IMAX theater; the portions they shot in IMAX were incredible (though I wish we were given more). It’s a well made movie, and when I saw Fukunaga’s name in the opening credits, I knew I was in for a show (loved his work on “True Detective”).
The storyline of this follows the usual beat of a spy/espionage picture. The threat is one of familiarity (and when is the world not in jeopardy?), and is beefed up with Bond villains and sleek action scenes to keep you engaged. I had fun, though I still wished I refreshed myself on the films before it. At the beginning, there was a callback made to “Casino Royale,” and if I hadn’t seen that last year, the scene would’ve been moot to me. I saw this with my brother, who had never seen a Bond film before, and said it took until the halfway point for him to get a barring on the story. As I’ve said before, it’s not the movie’s fault for confusing us; but it certainly made an impact on my viewing.
What works for the genre works for this film, but the usual problems with spy/espionage linger in this as well. Rami Maleck takes on the villain role in this; a position that has often been a weak link in any action picture. He played a creep well, and his motives were solid. However, he was hardly active, only becoming truly present in the middle of the second act. These days, I prefer a villain who likes to get his hands dirty. Bond tends to fight the clean, removed ones. Maleck did a good job performance-wise, I just wish that he had more to do.
Everyone in this did a bang-up job. The supporting cast made for great fun, with some of my favorites being Ana de Armas and Jeffrey Wright. Of course, we can’t end this review without discussing Mr. Craig, who gave it his all in this final outing. He’s played a wonderful role in this, and was given a bittersweet ending by the curtain close. When it comes to finales, I would’ve liked a happier one (the man’s not coming back, so why not make it more heartwarming?), but I’m not disgruntled with the one they chose. If anything, it just falls in line with your usual heroes whose actors don’t want to renew their contract (you’ll know once you see it).
“No Time to Die” is a fun, action-packed finale for Daniel Craig that hits the beats it should. If you are into spy/espionage, this is a solid pick. Just make sure you at least brush up on Craig’s Bond history before seeing it. FINAL SCORE: 85%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: