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‘No Time to Die’ Review: James Bond Shaken, Audience Stirred


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In Daniel Craig’s last outing as the superspy, Bond must save the world from the weaponized DNA of Rami Malek’s villain


‘No Time to Die” is the latest James Bond episode and the last one to star Daniel Craig. His performance elevates—all but ennobles—the dramatic core of an otherwise choppy narrative, a succession of impressive but impersonal action sequences and affecting interludes that lead to a stirring climax.

Time figures in more than the title. The film evokes time’s haunting passage— how long its hitherto indestructible hero has been saving the planet from a bountiful supply of malefactors, how much the years and decades have given and taken from him. (The running time, not incidentally, is 163 minutes, including some late-stage sags. It is in theaters Wednesday.) When the story gets up to speed after a short, pungent preface, Bond and the woman he has cautiously allowed himself to love, Léa Seydoux’s psychiatrist Madeleine Swann, are in a car on a cliff-clinging road in southern Italy. It’s not just any car but the same venerable Aston Martin DB5 in which they drove off happily at the end of the 2015 “Spectre.” Now, in the afterglow of their getaway, she wants him to drive faster, but he resists “We have all the time in the world,” he says serenely.

They don’t, of course. The years hang heavily over both of them, and touch us too. Fifteen of them have gone by since our first shocking encounter with Mr. Craig as 007 in “Casino Royale.” (He was anything but suave, and far from conventionally handsome.) By this time it’s somewhere between difficult and impossible to imagine anyone else playing Bond, a role that has always not only defined the franchise but the lure of elegant action on the big screen.


Daniel Craig as James Bond and Ana de Armas as Paloma


The new installment is exciting for its energy and scale, despite its flaws and derivative themes, and makes a lovely valediction for its star. Does that mean its release will bring the theatrical movie business back to full health, as many have hoped throughout the pandemic, and during all the delays that plagued the production? Of course not. If the business is to be saved—as a self-sustaining cultural force rather than an occasional alternative to streaming—it won’t be by a single feature, even though this one will be filling a pent-up hunger for spectacle and racking up staggering grosses around the world. A better question is how much to expect of “No Time to Die,” and the answer is more than it offers, however distinctive the film may be—and is—for its emotional candor. (The director was Cary Joji Fukunaga, working from a screenplay he wrote with Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. )


Rami Malek as Safin


As threats to the planet go, the new one ranks high in toxicity and low in originality. It is, for lack of a more concise description, some sort of redoubled helix of DNA, all aglow and shimmery in high-tech test tubes, but weaponized to target individuals, or, for that matter, whole nations. If you’re thinking that it sounds like a second cousin of Covid-19, well, yes, it does, but Covid wasn’t developed by a secret governmental project code-named Heracles that should have been shut down long ago (shades of Jason Bourne ), or hijacked by a crazed terrorist bent on revenge. (His name is Lyutsifer Safin —sounds like “Lucifer” if you slur it properly—and he’s played with hollow-eyed creepiness by Rami Malek. )


Lashana Lynch as Nomi


The cast of characters includes the evergreen villain Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz with eerily effective restraint after a galumphingly ominous prelude to a confrontation between him and Bond. There’s also a new 007, given that Bond has been put out to pasture—a tumultuous pasture, as it develops—and his numerical designation along with him. Her name is Nomi and she’s played by Lashana Lynch. The character isn’t interesting, however, and not a lot is made of the threat she poses to Bond, or her connection to him once he joins the hunt for Safin and his lair.


Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M and Rory Kinnear as Tanner


The most notable breath of fresh air—a blast, not just a breath—is provided by Ana de Armas as Paloma, a CIA agent based in Havana, which happens to be the actress’s home town. (She and Mr. Craig were castmates in Rian Johnson’s delightful 2019 whodunit “Knives Out.”) Paloma gets woefully little screen time but she’s a hoot, a spy with a joyous lilt and athletic flair, never mind that she claims to have had only three weeks’ training, or that Ms. De Armas may be giving us a preview of her performance as a fictionalized Marilyn Monroe in the forthcoming “Blonde” by giving Paloma a supplementary hint of quasi-innocent breathiness.


Daniel Craig as James Bond


As for the relationship between Bond and Ms. Seydoux’s Madeleine, who provided steadfast support for his mission in “Spectre,” it’s inevitably bedeviled by what might be termed trust issues in a lesser mortal, and what amounts to a nearly impenetrable suit of spiritual armor in the case of 007. Here, though, in his final and majestic appearance, Mr. Craig opens the gaunt, gallant operative to the possibility of new love and a brighter future. Bond’s next incarnation, whoever he may be, will have a big heart as well as big shoes to fill.

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The last post in this topic was made more than 14 days ago. Only post in this topic if you have something valuable to add. Irrelevant posts are not allowed and you will be warned/banned for spamming old topics.

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