No Time to Die is the 25th James Bond film. It almost feels like there are 25 movies in one. It is a complex story with many varied and sprawling set pieces that so much happens, it almost feels like the events of the beginning took place 18 months ago. They were meant to, if you recall. The covid-19 pandemic was the reason that audiences had to wait six more years between James Bond films. Fortunately, the movie's extended wait almost works in their favor. The movie's 163 minute running time and labyrinthine plot give us more of what our hearts desire. We waited for No Time for a long time and it finally delivered.
Although most James Bond films are standalone, No Time to Die is a sequel to those films. It relies on events from Spectre and Casino Royale, as well as other James Bond films. While it is not necessary to rewatch the films, it will be a great help, as many characters and storylines are back. Things pick up with James Bond (Daniel Craig), now a retired man who lives the good life with Dr. Madeleine Swann, (La Seydoux). Swann's past, which was left unrevealed in the previous film, is quickly revealed and James is forced into difficult decisions that will bring him back to service.
Bond may not know this, but many of Bond's choices are due the actions of Lyutsifer Sfin (Rami Malek). It is obvious that Safin is the main villain from the very beginning of the film. He is then almost immediately expelled from the film. Bond returns to fight agents of Spectre, and solves mysteries involving Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). Safin is only seen in one scene before the end. Bond spends more time fighting the agent who has taken over the 007 title (played by Lashana Lynch) than he does brawling the film's villain.
The fact that we, the audience, know Safin is behind everything and it takes Bond (and everyone else around him) so long to catch-up can sometimes make the narrative seem bloated. A great, run-and-gun action scene in Cuba involving a CIA Agent named Paloma (Ana de Armas) is one example. Bond and she team up to find some information and kill several bad guys in spectacular fashion. This makes Bond instantly fall for her character. She says goodbye and that's it. She's gone. Bond and her mission are essential to the plot. The scene doesn't feel like a waste. There are important moments mixed with the less important. This pattern continues throughout the movie. Scene after scene, character development and plot advancements will be ever so slight, while scenes themselves increase exponentially, much like a dozen mini-movies. It can be exhausting to see the slow-developing, repetitive nature of the movie. This is James Bond film. James Bond's best moments are when he is being outrageous and exaggerated. You want more guns, more cars and more motorcycles. More gadgets. Yes. These are the core values of the franchise. It all is there in No Time to Die, even though it sometimes seems a little too much.
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All this is due to Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), who worked from a script that he co-wrote along with Phoebe Waller Bridge (Fleabag), Neal Purvis (Skyfall), and Robert Wade (Skyfall). It is obvious that Fukunaga loves being in the sandbox. Fukunaga revels in every James Bond-ism, while framing them and lighting them to make each one unique. Nearly every scene is set in a different location with different clothes, environments, obstacles and other elements. A scene in the snow, one in the water, another in the woods, and yet another in a city are all possible. There are many genres that blend together. There is horror, comedy and drama mixed in. All of this is necessary? It's not. It is paying tribute to the franchise while also supporting it.
Another thing No Time to Die does well is humanize James Bond. Dont worry. You don't have to worry. He is still a formidable badass who can climb up stairs and take out bad guys with his machine gun in one go. Fukunaga makes you care about Fukunaga as a person and not just as a hero by using characters from other films. Bond's history with Madeleine and Blofeld, as well M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny(Naomie Harris), Q [Ben Whishaw], and other characters makes him feel like a real person. They are both friends and enemies. Their histories add a lot of stakes to the movie when the plot returns to Safin's actual activities.
It is also driven by the performances. Craig blends swagger and humanity to portray Bond in a way that is unlike anything we've seen. Lynch's charisma and screen presence make her an instant friend and foe. Scenes they share shine with chemistry. Seydoux is also a true No Time to Die actor, who balances vulnerability and strength in a very real way.
Add all these performances, the passion in the filmmaking, scale of the story and links back to previous films, and No Time to Die covers a lot, but it does so well. It is long, but it's a good thing. This story has characters you love and stories that you enjoy. Although James Bond's next film won't be with Daniel Craig, he can say that he gave audiences the most powerful and emotional Bond movie ever.
No Time To Die will only be available in theatres October 8.
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