PG Score: 7/10
No Time to Die was released in theaters on 10/8/21
Nearly two years after its original intended release, No Time to Die has finally hit the big screen. While not without blemishes, the blockbuster’s arrival offers several pulse-pounding set pieces along with an intriguing surprise or two. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation and Sin Nombre) occasionally mismanages the colossal cinematic undertaking, but
he makes sure to provide an entertaining farewell for Daniel Craig's James Bond.
The long-delayed swan song for the beloved leading man sees the MI6 agent in retirement and enjoying a peaceful life. His hard-earned tranquility is interrupted when his old friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) seeks out his help in stopping Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), a mysterious villain armed with threatening new technology.
Lashana Lynch embodies Nomi, a new character who proves to be a prominent addition to the franchise. Due to Bond’s isolated hiatus, she has stepped in to lead the types of vital missions previously designated to her predecessor. Her operational status extends as far as her assuming the code number 007, much to the chagrin of its prior owner. While the dynamic between James and Nomi begins as rather icy, their relationship progresses in a compelling manner. It is a pleasure to witness the tandem trade sarcastic jabs as they carve their way through enemy forces together.
A Calmer Start
No Time to Die starts off a bit more muted than in past installments. Those expecting an explosive action sequence to kick things off may be disappointed to find a focus on character drama in the opening minutes. The emotional component plays an understandably bigger role this time around, and its emphasis yields mixed results. However, it is not long before the bullets begin flying in a large-scale pursuit that feels like the Bond audiences know and love.
While that is far from the movie’s only exhilarating sequence, the shootouts do become monotonous at times. Bond and Nomi mow down countless henchmen, but even with the high body count, the running and gunning eventually grows repetitive. Too much time is devoted to the two agents popping in and out of cover in formulaic fashion as they exchange fire with their many foes. It is imperative to make the distinction that this is not the case throughout as some of the gunplay is quite rousing. More variation in the design of the frequent firefights would have gone a long way, though.
Hand-to-hand combat has always been a staple of the acclaimed spy universe, and that trend continues in No Time to Die. The uncompromising fisticuffs make up for some of the better showdowns and highlight the formidable adversary, Cyclops (Dali Benssalah). James faces off against the one-eyed opponent more than once, culminating in a satisfying ultimate confrontation. Craig’s fifth and final outing is also elevated by the protagonist’s trademark witty remarks. The one-liners are used sparingly, but each one hits the target dead-on.
Not Without Flaws
Clocking in at a staggering 2 hours and 43 minutes, the film is certainly bloated. The tedious gunfights are compounded by sporadically bland dialogue that also hurts the pacing. This issue is especially glaring in the third act when the momentum drops significantly before ratcheting back up for the last hurrah. The tone is heavier than fans may be accustomed to, and its impact is hit-and-miss. While most weightier conversations tug at the heartstrings, some end up falling short of the mark and come off as contrived. Thankfully, the drama is in peak condition for the ending as the poignance is palpable when the credits roll.
Daniel Craig once again offers the most complete depiction of the super spy as he delivers a level of nuance only he can bring to the role. The BAFTA-nominated actor lays it all on the line and gives his most layered portrayal of the hero. He handles the extended attention to the dramatic elements with profound capability and exhibits excellent chemistry with all his co-stars. Craig goes above and beyond to ensure his last performance as James Bond is a memorable one.
The supporting cast of No Time to Die is packed with familiar faces and capable newcomers. Rami Malek is deprived of a chance to shine as the antagonist thanks to an underutilized Safin. His limited screen time is especially baffling given the film’s extensive runtime. Ana de Armas is captivating as the energetic and humorous Paloma. Léa Seydoux reprises her role from Spectre as James’ most recent love interest, Madeleine. The actress delivers a decent performance despite the one-dimensional character. Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Rory Kinnear, and Christoph Waltz are all back in their respective parts from previous entries. Everyone returns in full form and again brings a unique style to the long-standing characters. Lashana Lynch’s first appearance as 007 is impressive as the Captain Marvel star exudes a great deal of confidence in the big shoes she is meant to fill.
An Adequate Send-off
Despite multiple misfires, Cary Joji Fukunaga’s aim holds true when it counts. Over the past 15 years, Daniel Craig has poured every ounce of his being into the ultra-suave espionage icon. While he deserves to go out on a higher note, No Time to Die features just enough adrenaline-fueled action and vintage Bond banter to justify a trip to the theater.