Saturday 2 October 2021

No Time to Die (Movie Review)

The 25th entry in the James Bond series is finally here, following its much publicized delays in the wake of COVID-19 concerns last year. The landmark film marks Daniel Craig's final outing as its eponymous secret agent, a role he has played since Casino Royale in 2006. And in all that time, the actor has come to define that role, so watching him say goodbye to the character was always going to be a bittersweet affair. But does his fifth and final appearance as Bond do justice to his tenure?

In No Time to Die, everyone's favorite MI6 agent is forced out of retirement when the world is once again threatened by the terrorist organization, Spectre. And things have changed somewhat since the last time he was on her Royal Majesty's secret service. Not only has MI6 been caught dabbling in some shady dealings, he must also contend with his replacement, a new hotshot agent. But the two must learn to work together to bring down the terrorist organization once and for all.

Let me start by confessing that I wasn't all that keen on Spectre when I saw it in 2015. It was a movie I'd found to be quite forgettable amongst other things. So watching No Time to Die, which is effectively a direct sequel, it almost felt like I was missing a big chunk of the narrative. The film does its best to fill in those blanks, but I guess what I'm saying is your enjoyment of No Time to Die could very well hinge on how much you'd enjoyed the previous movie.
All that said, No Time to Die is definitely an improvement over Spectre. The film finds Bond doing what he does best, except he is even more world weary this time around, having suffered some crushing emotional blows in his time as a double O. It also subverts expectations by throwing away some of the well-worn tropes the franchise has come to be known for, like the action packed cold opens that has defined the last couple of entries. 
But the whole thing ultimately feels the same, with yet another global threat that must be stopped before it is too late. And speaking of that threat, Rami Malek plays the film's villain, Safin, in a performance I found to be quite on the nose. He was certainly as villainous as they come, but came too close to mustache-twirling territory for my liking. The movie is also overlong, stretching towards the three-hour mark without really justifying why it needed to do so.

I guess my biggest gripe with No Time to Die is the fact that it doesn't really give any indication of what to expect with the James Bond franchise going forward. Most likely we'll be getting another reboot sometime down the line, so anyone going into the movie expecting some kind of passing of the torch might come out sorely disappointed. But negatives aside, the film still manages to shine due to its focus on its central hero and his storied history.

No Time to Die is a fitting end to the Daniel Craig era of Bond movies. It builds upon everything that came before it to give the actor one of the more emotional sendoffs in the franchise's 25-film history. And while it doesn't reach the same heights as a Casino Royale or Skyfall, it still manages to satisfy as it caps off what is surely one of the best runs we've had since we were first introduced to Bond.



  1. Has a James Bond movie ever "passed the torch"? How do you do that when the only real difference (unless they do like the Daniel Craig movies and affect a reboot) is the actor playing Bond? That's not a failing of the movie but rather somewhat misplaced expectations. I didn't have a problem with Spectre at all. It was Skyfall that disappointed me. I even loved Quantum of Solace, perhaps the one true "pure" Daniel Craig outing, where he's Bond being Bond, a sequel that's "just" a sequel. If anything it was absolutely necessary if the Bond presented in Casino Royale was to be taken at face value. Then they went in the total opposite direction with Skyfall and then leaned heavily into the mythology in Spectre.

    I expect the next one won't be so serialized. Or if it is, there's some radical revision to the concept. Such as he's now, I don't know, Double-O-K9.

    1. Fair point about none of the other Bond eras picking up where the previous one left off. And to clarify, that is not what I was expecting here either. But considering how much overlap we'd gotten between the Daniel Craig movies and the older Bond films, and how tightly connected to each other his movies have been, it would've been nice if they gave us something (however little) to look forward to beyond this one.

  2. After such a long wait for this film, it sounds disappointing.
    Bond has never been about the plot. The stories are okay at best and often just silly. (Credit to the Craig films, they have not fallen into silly.) You don't go for a great story, you go for a great character.

    1. Very true. And while I don't consider it the best Bond film in the Daniel Craig era, I still think it was a solid Bond film overall. Definitely leagues ahead of something like Die Another Day.

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