Movie Review: No Time to Die (2021)

Now in theatres. Photo: MGM.

Despite many isolated moments of grandeur, the overlong 25th James Bond movie and purported final installment of Daniel Craig’s tenure in the role, peaks early and struggles in patches to find its pace. There are several “first act” action sequences so effective in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time To Die (B) that a viewer may wonder if the film will be able to maintain its momentum (the answer is not quite). Front-loaded highlights include an eerie origin story involving a villain and love interest and a spectacular 360 vehicular ballet to buttress against baddies in an Italian piazza. There’s also tremendous possibility in a plot involving a bioweapon full of lethal nanobots coded to an individual’s specific DNA. Plus, a trio of intriguing female characters including Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas and Léa Seydoux play well opposite Craig’s anguished protagonist. So it’s a bit of a missed opportunity amidst gorgeously photographed and well staged episodes that the enterprise doesn’t pop even more. Partly to blame is a half-baked villain in Rami Malek who, with clipped speech cadence and vague dastardly plans to turn personal trauma into global vengeance, fails to deliver on his creepy promise. And mid-way, there’s a series of bloated plot points which seem perfunctory at best. There’s also scant subtext under the posh proceedings, even though the action generally packs a wallop. For series stalwarts, though, the film pays fan service to nearly all beloved tropes from island lairs to inventive spy-jinks; and in many ways it’s as Bondian as a Bond film can be. Fukunaga leaves a stylish and singular directorial stamp on the franchise just as Craig has made the brooding hero’s role indelibly his own. Overall it’s a sturdy entry into the series and a fitting tribute to the actor who has shaken and stirred the series for the past decade and a half.

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