Daniel Craig takes James Bond into uncharted territory with a powerfully emotional and epic performance. No Time to Die is hands down the best finale for an actor portraying 007. His character arc has undergone a significant transformation from the gruff, ass-kicking poker player in Casino Royale. There are a lot of surprises here. No Time to Die’s blistering action scenes cut a different path for Bond to follow. Which may be divisive to those who don’t want or appreciate complexity in the beloved British spy.
James Bond’s escape from espionage with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) is a blissful paradise. But Spectre does not forgive or forget. Secrets that Madeleine thought were long buried have come scratching back to haunt them. Some time later in Jamaica, Bond gets a visit from a dear friend in his past life. Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) has troubling news. He needs a trustworthy ally for a dire mission in Cuba. Where a novice operative (Ana de Armas) has identified a high-value target.
Spectre has kidnapped a scientist from a covert lab in London. Only M (Ralph Fiennes) knows what was stolen. He dispatches a new “00” agent (Lashana Lynch) in a race against the CIA. What Bond discovers is completely unexpected with world-changing consequences. It leads him back to MI6 allies, Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw). There is a new puppet master (Rami Malek) with an unknown agenda pulling every string. A despised and defeated adversary (Christoph Waltz) may be the only clue to uncovering a diabolical conspiracy.
No Time to Die is the longest and most detailed of the twenty-five Bond films. Its two hour and forty-three minutes runtime incorporates crucial plot details from Craig’s tenure, but also draws from the storied history of the franchise. This is especially evident when classic musical scores are used to invoke specific memorable events. It’s a clever tactic that helps to pack a dramatic wallop.
Every Bond film is a known commodity to a certain extent. No Time to Die has the requisite Aston Martin chases, gadgetry, and stirred not shaken vodka martinis. But at a minimum level that’s a nod and wink to nostalgia rather than meaning to the actual narrative. This is the point where old school Bond fans and Ian Fleming die-hards need to broaden their perspective. No Time to Die is a serious film with heavy themes. A few chuckles are sprinkled in, but this is a story about loss, betrayal, vengeance, and primarily, drumroll please…love.
No Time to Die is a love story at heart. Léa Seydoux has fantastic, smoldering chemistry with Daniel Craig. Judi Dench’s “M” gave Bond purpose with his “00” status and “License to Kill”. Eva Green’s “Vesper Lynd” was his first true taste of affection and heartbreak. These experiences over the previous four films built James Bond into a man with depth. His allegiance to “Queen and Country” is unquestionable. But is he able to forge a true connection with a woman who honestly feels the same? Madeleine Swann becomes a pivotal character, perhaps the most important “Bond Girl” of all.
No Time to Die doesn’t reach the perfection and cinematic pinnacle of Skyfall, but it’s damn good. This is a Bond adventure unlike any we’ve seen. I am an unabashed worshipper at the altar of Daniel Craig’s interpretation of James Bond. He’s been amazing from the start. Daniel Craig successfully redefined the character for the 21st century. The next Bond needs to be freaking spectacular to measure against him. No Time to Die is produced by MGM and Eon Productions. It will premiere in North American theaters on October 8th from United Artists Releasing.
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