o Time to Die’ marks the end of Daniel Craig’s service with a slightly bloated Bond film.
Billing a James Bond adventure as the end of something after 25 films and 60 years takes a leap of faith.
Despite its faults, Daniel Craig’s exemplary service concludes with “No Time to Die,” a huge, length-wise bloated epic with all the necessary bells and whistles that,
despite its problems, should earn the film significant goodwill from a waiting (and waiting) public.
MGM, one of the first victims of the epidemic, delayed the release of Craig’s fifth and last film by 18 months, creating a 15-year gap between his first appearance in “Casino Royale” and this chapter.
While he hasn’t slowed down, his Bond editions have never been able to match that brilliant start,
and “No Time to Die” is no exception.
To its credit, this two-hour-and-43-minute film (making the title rather misleading) diligently builds on all that the current Bond films have established, in a manner that previous versions generally did not.
Despite the return of the evil Blofeld, this has developed Bond’s character,
enabling him to feel sorrow, loss, and love without pressing the reset button.
Cary Joji Fukunaga (“True Detective”) directs this Bond,
which begins with arguably the longest pre-credit scene in Bond history,
introducing the enigmatic new adversary (played by Rami Malek,
who seems to be channelling Peter Lorre) and ending with Bond blissfully retired.
his post-service bliss is short-lived, as M (Ralph Fiennes) and his CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) both try to persuade him to return on a mission involving a terrible bioweapon (perhaps not the best time for that plot) and his old nemeses from Spectre,
bringing back Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and the now-incarcerated Blofeld
Bond’s place at MI6 has also been taken by a new agent (Lashana Lynch),
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who has inherited his 007 licences? However, although Lynch is a great addition, their bickering banter is rather poor,
adding to the already excessive number of moving pieces that the narrative must serve.
One underlying issue is that the world has changed since the character was born,
clouding alliances and making it “impossible to distinguish good from evil,” as Leiter observes.
However, adding intricacy to a formula based on world-threatening villains and muscular action hasn’t improved it.
The film features some spectacular chases and action scenes,
with Ana de Armas (Craig’s “Knives Out” co-star) providing another dose of female assertiveness on a mission that leads Bond to Cuba.
Still, “No Time to Die” seems like it’s trying too hard to give Craig a sendoff worthy of all the hoopla, an excess that might be summed up as simply taking too long to get to the conclusion.
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