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No Time to Die

MGM // PG-13 // October 8, 2021
List Price: Unknown

Review by Jeff Nelson | posted October 1, 2021 | E-mail the Author

The James Bond franchise is legendary, but it certainly has its peaks and valleys. Each Bond era brings a different style. Six actors have played the iconic character over the course of 25 movies. Daniel Craig's casting was initially met with backlash, but the 2006 masterpiece Casino Royale proved a lot of people wrong. No Time to Die is Craig's fifth and final time starring in the role. Two of the entries in Craig's era are disappointing, but No Time to Die doesn't join Quantum of Solace and Spectre on that list.

No Time to Die opens on a house in a snow-covered landscape. A masked assailant descends upon the poor inhabitants to hunt down a specific target. The introduction plays out like a horror movie, including a home invasion and a creepy-masked killer. However, the movie quickly changes gears as Bond and Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) live their days together. The spy discovers that there's a lot he doesn't know about her past. Now, it's coming back to haunt them. Their volatile relationship is at the center of No Time to Die. Madeleine was previously introduced, but she's given a much stronger identity here. However, the focus doesn't shift from Bond.

No Time to Die is abundantly aware of the fact that this is Craig's final outing. It seeks to tie up the loose ends on this iteration of Bond in the most respectful ways possible. The screenplay successfully adds more depth to the character by emphasizing both his internal and external struggles. The womanizer spy is much more focused on monogamy and has difficulty trusting any of the women in his life after Madeleine. Meanwhile, he's remained off the grid and hasn't been in the field in quite some time. Bond is brought back into the spotlight that opens up old wounds and forces him to face the demons that he's been hiding from for years. The consequences could result in countless lives being lost around the world.

During Bond's time away from the field, a lot has changed. For example, Nomi (Lashana Lynch) has taken the codename "007,' who also has the cool confidence that Bond lost years ago. Another character is brought into the fold named Paloma (Ana de Armas). Both of these ladies are absolute badasses. However, their stories aren't at the forefront. In fact, de Armas has essentially a glorified cameo that will have audiences demanding a Paloma spinoff. She delivers such immense personality and fun during her brief presence that is sure to stick with viewers. Meanwhile, Nomi gets a little bit of extra screen time, allowing the character to exhibit a small amount of growth. Some other characters reprise their roles, but make no mistake that this is Craig's journey. Everybody else is simply along for the ride.

Rami Malek stars as the antagonist. His mask gives him a creepy aesthetic, but that's the most that can be said about him. He's certainly the least interesting antagonist in Craig's Bond era. However, No Time to Die doesn't aim for this to lead to another sequel. This villain isn't meant to have a greater narrative that the audience is concerned about, so he mostly exists as a repeated plot device for Bond.

No Time to Die has a sentimental side to it. At its core, Craig's final installment tells a story about forgiveness. It's a theme that runs deep. All of the characters have been wronged to various degrees, but are now being faced with the option of forgiveness. No Time to Die concludes in a way that is totally respectful of Craig's iteration of Bond and the story he's been telling since 2006. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga does a wonderful job tying up Bond's story in a way that feels complete. The performances are stellar all around, particularly from Craig and Seydoux.

No Time to Die will likely garner awards attention for its use of sound. The action hits particularly hard with its use of audio, elevating the movie's most thrilling moments. However, it's one of the less visually eye-catching installments. Skyfall remains the most gorgeous of Craig's Bond movies. Nevertheless, No Time to Die is a theater experience through and through. It makes sense why the studio waited to release it without having to dump the big release on a streaming service. See it on the biggest, loudest screen you can safely experience it on.

No Time to Die is utterly cinematic. It's strong storytelling with big action set pieces that will leave you breathless. It's not perfect and it once again twists the Bond formula, but it's a lovely send-off for Craig. Earlier this year, Black Widow had its send-off for Scarlett Johansson, but the movie was more concerned with developing its ensemble cast for future Marvel installments. Meanwhile, No Time to Die set its sights on giving Craig's Bond era the goodbye it deserves.



Highly Recommended

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