REVIEW: For a good Bond adventure, find time for ‘No Time to Die’

Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond started way back in 2006, during  my senior year in high school.

After many years, drawn out by an MGM bankruptcy, directorial changes and the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve finally reached the end of the road.

“No Time to Die” takes place following the events of 2015’s “Spectre.” The evil mastermind Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) is jailed, while James Bond (Daniel Craig) and his romantic partner Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) are now enjoying retirement from the spy business.

Bond’s past end up catching up with the couple, though, forcing the two to split up. In the meantime, a new threat emerges and it forces Bond to get back in action for another mission.

The final Bond movie featuring Craig certainly starts off with excitement and goes out with a bang. In between is a largely enjoyable spy flick with cool cars, fun characters, tense moments and even a subplot that puts the film in more emotional territory than many of its predecessors.

Like most Bond flicks, the runtime is well over two hours, but as usual with 007, many things are at play in the movie. Bond’s romance with Madeleine, his potential replacement at MI6, the status of the evil organization Spectre and the latest villain’s plan are all intertwined here, with a good balance given to each story thread.

NO TIME TO DIE
Courtesy United Artists and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

What the film introduces in its story offers a nice duality of old and new. For example, the subplot with Bond’s replacement as 007 is fresh and adds a good dynamic to the franchise. Meanwhile, fans of the series will be happy to see staples return, such as the always fun meeting with Q.

Those who’ve enjoyed the continuity of the Bond movies featuring Craig (myself included) will also be pleased how this film carries over from the events of “Spectre.” The continuity is there in the ending, too, as the movie has quite a send off to Craig’s Bond that’s meaningful to those who’ve followed the pictures since 2006.

For those who just want an individual Bond adventure, though, many will be pleased to know that this can stand fairly well on its own. As previously said, it certainly draws on past Craig-featured films, but this one has its own thing going on.

Craig himself has been integral to making this work. Since the first movie he’s brought a great deal of charm to the role and that’s just as true today as it has been before. The suave nature, quick thinking, cheeky delivery of one liners and laser focus when taking on threats all come to the screen nicely by Craig.

It’s also notable that this film required some more emotional moments than might typically be in a Bond movie, and Craig excels in those moments. Craig has proven to be a capable actor with solid range in other works and that’s true here as well.

Bond5

Returning members of the supporting cast are all solid, too. Ralph Fiennes is good as M, Christoph Waltz is great as the villain Blofeld, Ben Whishaw is wonderfully quirky as Q and Jeffrey Wright makes a good appearance as CIA agent Felix Leiter.

When it comes to new cast members, the film is hit and miss. Lashana Lynch portrays the new 00 agent and she brings a confident, suave persona to the character which works. Another good addition is Ana de Armas, who makes a brief but exceptional appearance as CIA agent Paloma.

However, when it comes to the villains, “No Time to Die” falls a bit short. One is the bioweapon scientist Valdo (David Dencik), who is mostly bumbling around and lost in what’s happening. The character just gets annoying after a while.

Then there’s Rami Malek’s Lyutsifer Safin. The character is rather reserved and certainly calculating, which Malek captures. As a villain, though, Safin is simply not menacing.

Action-wise, “No Time” delivers. One highlight is where Bond is forced to battle henchmen in a forest, having to use his surroundings in a sort of guerilla warfare type of way. The final portions of the mission where Bond and the new 007 is really well made, too, with quite a bit of good gunplay.

“No Time to Die” is a fitting end to Craig’s time as Bond. It’s a great time seeing these characters return for a last adventure, and that goes for some of the new ones, too.

Additionally, the story is well plotted and there are several highlights when it comes to the action. Despite a weak villain roster this time around, the latest 007 works. 4.25 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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