‘NO TIME TO DIE’ Review: Daniel You’re A Star

The Beatles once sang: “And in the end/The love you take/Is equal to the love you make.” That could not be more fitting for Daniel Craig and his specific portrayal of James Bond. It was made clear that “No Time To Die” was to be Craig’s farewell to the character, whom he portrayed five times (second to only Sean Connery and Roger Moore who each had seven appearances) over the span of 15 years. Even Paul McCartney, who is still touring at 79, will one day have his farewell concert. But what can be assured is that it will be filled with hits, new material, and “Hope For The Future” (that was for any Destiny players out there). “No Time To Die” does exactly that and is the well-deserved finale and best send-off that could be given to Craig.

After the mixed bag that is “Spectre,” “No Time To Die” picks up with Bond and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seyydoux) as they are traveling back to Matera. “We don’t have to go faster, we have all the time in the world,” says Bond to Madeleine as they are driving into Matera. This is one of the many instances of time being referenced, take that as you will. This happens to be where Vesper (Eva Green), Bond’s love interest in Craig’s first outing as 007, “Casino Royale,” is buried. After recommending that Bond goes and lets go of Vesper, a bomb is set off that kicks off a great action sequence. Part of the motorcycle chase was shown in the trailer, but it is needed to be seen on the biggest screen imaginable.

This is just one of the great action scenes that director Cary Joji Fukunaga nails. Cary Jojo Fukunaga is the director of “Beasts of No Nation,” which was recently added to the Criterion Collection, and he stepped in beautifully for Sam Mendes, who directed the last two installments in the Craig-Bond saga. His unique touch is felt in the opening scene, which sees Lyutsifer Safin (Malek) tracking down a young Madeleine, and has jump scares infused as Malek creeps his way around the house. The action also features a lot of shaky camera movements, but never to the point that it compromises what you can see. One stairwell fight in particular was impressive, as the cameraman was like a character in the film. It followed the movements like a VR boxing game, placing you right in front of them. It was great to see some hand-to-hand fight sequences, as the early fights—for as great as they were—mainly featured chase sequences and gunfights. An old-fashioned fistfight is what made the Craig-Bond films so unique in the first place, and it was great to get back to that similarly to how “Spectre” did that in the train sequence.

You know that the Bond franchise has come a long way when you see the bulletproof car with guns in each headlight. Remember the good old days of Sean Connery using a briefcase with a knife that sticks out? We’re well beyond that, as Bond also uses a watch that shocks people to death.

While “No Time To Die” is certainly less convoluted and over-stuffed like Spectre, there still is a lot going on, it just is fed to you in a more palatable way. It toes the line of being like “Mission Impossible” at the end, with Bond attempting to beat the clock before missiles strike the island he is on. One thing that is wonderfully explored is Seydoux’s character, which we unpack a lot more layers of as she is more involved in the terrorist plan than we initially think.

Newcomers Lashana Lynch—the new 007—, and Ana de Armas are great, even if their roles are limited (especially in the case of the latter). The former’s dynamic with Bond is like a great sibling rivalry, as they poke at each other without malice. They are standoffish at first but learn to tolerate each other relatively quickly. Ana de Armas has a great, but limited role as Paloma, Felix’s link-up in Cuba. She kicks ass, but her role left more to be desired. Oh yeah, and Felix (Jeffery Wright) is back! As great of an actor as Wright is, you could have told me his character died in “Casino Royale” and I would have believed you, and I just watched it to refresh my memory. But Felix is back, which naturally creates more tension between M16 and the FBI. It’s also great to see Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) back, though they too are pushed to the side for mostly comic relief.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) in discussion with Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) in “No Time To Die,” an EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

2 hours and 43 minutes is long for any movie not by Martin Scorsese or Akira Kurosawa. The first 90 minutes of “No Time To Die” fly by relatively quickly, as there is a lot of action-packed in. But it then hits a lull, and the plot about the virus that can specifically target people by their DNA is sometimes laughable. It is cool in concept, but it doesn’t fully come together in a serious manner as the film intends.

Christoph Waltz returns as Blofeld, and all I can say is, it’s very similar to Charlize Theron’s appearance in “F9.” Though at least Blofeld has a hand in the plot, so it doesn’t feel like it is purely for the paycheck.

Rami Malek is an Oscar-winning actor and has definitely played some great roles as seen in “Short Term 12” or “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But his villain in “No Time To Die” is, for lack of a better term, boring. It’s a pet peeve of mine when a villain disappears, and Malek’s villain does for almost 70 minutes after the opening scene. Even when he is featured more prominently, his character was an odd mixture between his iteration of Freddie Mercury and Jared Leto’s Niander Wallace from “Blade Runner 2049,” and his Safin even has a trick door that goes underground to evade trouble that Queen probably used in their concerts. His whole plan and way of seeing himself as a hero is cheesy, but thank goodness for his ability to deliver these ridiculous monologues.

It is great to finally see “No Time To Die” hitting theatres. It has gotten delayed for so long that I forgot about Billy Ellish’s song. You can’t say it’s not a unique Bond film, as despite returning to some locations in past films in this series, it also visited new locations such as Cuba and the Faroe Islands. There is a sequence in a jungle akin to Endor where Bond goes complete “Home Alone” mode as he picks apart the henchmen. The runtime may scare off people, but it does move well for the most part. “No Time To Die” is not perfect but was worth the wait to unveil it on the big screen. Even if Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond wasn’t always smooth, and two of the movies may have been worse than the others, it cannot be denied that it will be incredibly difficult to fill in his shoes.

Grade: B+

“No Time To Die” hits theatres on October 8.

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