Movie Review: No Time To Die
Rating: 2 and 1/2 Stars
If Spectre was a Daniel Craig-led celebration of most things James Bond, No Time to Die is the drunk afterparty where the party guests overstay their welcome and knock over a few desks lamps.
Bond films can track near the two-and-a-half-hour mark so No Time to Die isn’t significantly longer than its recent predecessors, but by the second half of the film, it feels like a marathon. Pacing is rarely been a complaint for me in the Bond series but No Time to Die gets too greedy in not only having its Daniel Craig retirement cake but blowing it to smithereens.
Daniel Craig’s James Bond is a bit over it with being the world’s best super spy. Bond begins No Time to Die retired from the service but all legendary spies are obligated to get pulled right back in when the latest conspiracy perplexes the CIA and MI6.
MI6 has clean broken ties with Bond as the 007 designation is given to a new agent, Nomi (Lashana Lynch). Apparently MI6 doesn’t believe in formal jersey retirements.
A running theme that started in Skyfall is that James Bond and his old school run and gun spy methods are going by the wayside of the tech-savvy hackers who can create superweapons in their computers. Agents remark that the villains are different, but Bond believes that the more the world changes, the more it stays the same. It’s a fun theme to play on but it’s a tertiary thread and rarely expanded upon.
No Time to Die places more focus on Bond and his love interest from Spectre, Madeleine (Lea Seydoux). It’s been six years Spectre and No Time to Die so forgive me for not recalling who Madeleine is. Bond and Madeleine are still reeling from their haunted pasts, but while Bond’s past is no mystery, Madeleine has unrevealed secrets.
Bond and Madeleine’s relationship are a primary focus. Allow me to finish your thought for you, you didn’t sit down for a Bond movie love story. More action, intrigue, and explosions, please. No Time to Die is full of the above but it’s bloated. The end product is diluted. The villain isn’t as menacing. The love story lacks the emotional punch needed to move me. The action is redundant.
The difference is we’re still in the world of James Bond though so the cinematography is world-class. Craig as always has an abundance of screen presence.
Rami Malek is underutilized as Bond’s ultimate adversary Lyutsifer Safin. Sinister lines aren’t enough to give Safin much depth outside of his dramatic opening scene.
Nomi isn’t rewarded much either outside of holding onto the 007 title for a while. She banters and rivals Bond until she ultimately accepts she’s the backup quarterback.
It isn’t lost on me that the Bond films continuously pit the titular character up against the idea that he is outdated. Daniel Craig got as much out of character as he could to this point. Skyfall and Casino Royale are not only great Bond films but great cinema in general. Craig’s Bond has come to the cliff’s edge of having little else to accomplish.
The James Bond character will live on though even if you’re left wondering what else this series can do to prolong its storied history. It’s no different than our fascination with Sherlock Holmes or superheroes whose stories are continuously rewritten and retold.
No Time to Die is a product of a film directed to take little risks but instead relying on the methods that have brought the Bond series this far. The audiences investment in the Bond character. The action set pieces in different and exotic environments. The music (more on Billie Eilish in just a moment). And all of the old reliable comforting qualities that make the Bond series so iconic.
Shaken not stirred. The name’s Bond… The opening musical number including the signature turn and shoot. The Bond girls. The gadgets. The face-to-face scene with the villain is always my personal favorite. All of it is present in No Time to Die.
If you want all the simple pleasures, No Time to Die has you covered. It attempts to be much more. Outside of the action and intrigue it's an uninspiring love drama with a villain lacking development.
Billie Eilish is given the nod to do the opening number and she’s got the unfortunate duty of following up Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ and Sam Mendes’s ‘Writing on the Wall’. Eilish’s ‘No Time to Die’ gives away the film’s love story focus. It’s a good song by Eilish but isn’t goosebump-inducing like the two previous songs were.
Bond at its peak has left me wanting to travel the world solving international conspiracies with a martini in one hand and a silenced pistol in the other. No Time to Die leaves me thinking retirement would be better.