No Time to Die (2021)
No Time to Die (2021)

Genre: Action and Spy Running Time: 2 hrs. 46 min.

Release Date: October 8th, 2021 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga Actors: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Ana de Armas, Christoph Waltz, Billy Magnussen, David Dencik

 


 

A

fter finally uncovering and placing Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), the head of massive criminal empire SPECTRE behind bars, James Bond (Daniel Craig) retires to the Italian countryside with his newfound love, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). Knowing Bond’s heart will never fully belong to her until he is able to forgive Vesper Lynd’s betrayal, Madeleine orchestrates a plan for him to visit the former flame’s grave. When Bond’s enemies resurface yet again, casting doubt on Swann’s loyalties, the secret agent leaves her and vanishes. Five years pass before CIA operative Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) tracks down the reclusive former agent with a request to locate a missing scientist with ties to SPECTRE. Reluctantly accepting the mission, Bond quickly becomes embroiled in a sinister plot against a madman intent on destroying 007’s allies, enemies, and the woman whose life he once spared – Madeleine Swann.

It begins with the iconic music, the gun barrel graphics, and the cold open, but it’s immediately different than before. Here, the opening shots are straight out of a horror movie, complete with every laughable trope that goes along with such boilerplate fashioning. And then there’s romance, details for relationships, and soppy reminiscence (and references to previous episodes), padding the start for so long that the eventual, obligatory flurry of action becomes a nearly forgotten prerequisite (as well as the signature title tune, here by Billie Eilish, a comparably forgettable ditty). Perhaps the longest introduction for a Bond film is to be expected from the longest of all the Bond films, as this behemoth clocks in at 2 hours and 46 minutes.

At long last, audiences are treated to car and motorcycle chases, hi-tech gadgetry, explosions, and shootouts, along with some heightened emotional moments, but “No Time to Die” makes the most unforgivable of action movie mistakes in its failed escalation of adventure. The first few chases and stunts are the best, leaving the middle and finale with scant daredevilry; unlike previous iterations, which tend to get bigger and better as the hijinks wear on, this last of the Craig epics unveils a disappointing dearth of gargantuan set pieces. And sadly, this is in favor of a bloated, complicated – yet ultimately barebones – bioweapon/nanotechnology plot about destroying the world. Gone are the days in which the most famous of secret agents can fend off a down-to-earth villain with down-to-earth intentions of terrorism.

In addition to the loss of focus on action, Craig’s entries – and this one especially – hinges on severity and intensity far too much, refusing to make fun of itself often enough to appreciate the ludicrousness of Bond’s larger-than-life exploits. Realism never works well with 007. Groan-inducing politics and deadly-serious antagonists drown out even the most minor attempts at levity (one of which is Ana de Armas, a rather perfect Bond girl whose scenes are the lone efforts to remind viewers of the more lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek adventures of yore). International, diplomatic hiccups return, along with the dependable trust-no-one notion, cringingly obvious product placements, and baddies with excessively idiosyncratic deportments or facial deformities (Rami Malek as Safin isn’t bad, though he certainly could have been used to greater effect), but little of it harks back to truly nostalgic Bond form.

Younger generations will surely enjoy the stabs at updated political and social correctness, while longtime fans will pick up on the various nods, connections, and revelations that tie into the larger Bond universe, but there are simply too many needless subplots, characters, and simultaneous missions going on, diluting any sense of excitement. The picture isn’t merely overstuffed, it’s detrimentally overstuffed, considering that the conclusion boils down to a one-man (and one-woman) solution to combat a billionaire evil mastermind and his gigantic fortress of armed malefactors. The climax proves to be big, but only in the significance of outcomes, not in the tremendousness of showdowns or firefights. Like “Skyfall,” this final Craig outing routinely doesn’t feel like a genuine James Bond actioner, instead following the pattern of generic impossible mission endeavors that could have had any random name attached to it – perhaps one without a considerable history of specific expectations.

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10