James Bond takes on the Candyman.
James Bond. Doctor Who. Literally any hero/villain in an adaptation. At this point it’s just tradition that the general audience goes through the same cycle whenever we hear about a new actor portraying a long-running role. We hate them and then for the most part we get used to them over time, and then they get put up on a pedestal when the new person comes in to be hated.
Daniel Craig’s stint as James Bond is over and No Time To Die is his final outing. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, No Time To Die features Bond being pulled out of retirement yet again to track down terrorists before they do terrorist things that probably involve killing people. And terror. It’s a good thing Craig is finally hanging up the hat, there’s only so many times a single Bond actor’s films can open up with him being pulled out of retirement.
I suppose the elephant in the room that needs to be addressed first is in regards to the tone of the film, particularly toward Lashana Lynch and Daniel Craig. The way the trailers set the film up, it’s hard to blame someone for thinking this movie would be the director shoving Craig aside and dismissing his character as an old white dude afraid of change (by proxy the audience), making way for a younger, more capable black woman whose power comes from being a woman and black, and specifically not a white man. Nomi does issue Craig something of a “sit down and shut up” moment during the trailer.
Thankfully I can say that the film treats both characters with respect. Nomi is a 00 Agent two years running, making her an obviously capable person with her own lethal set of skills. What she isn’t is a 1:1 match for Bond who even in his age has more experience in his pinky than Nomi does in her entire body. Nomi is more like the younger Bond, wanting to prove herself and ending up being reckless in the process. She is proud and occasionally shows a character flaw and insecurity. In short; she feels like a real person and not the director trying to burn down the franchise past to build a new, more woke future.
The inclusion of Rami Malek as the showrunning villain Lyutsifer Safin makes me hope future Bond movies go back to more interesting villains. The series has fallen toward forgettable antagonists who really want revenge on someone, and while Rami Malek has more charm than McDonald’s has broken ice cream machines, it’s still hard to care about his motivations. I actually had far more interest in the reappearance of Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz as with 2015’s Spectre.
Léa Seydoux plays Madeleine Swann, Bond’s sexy love interest with a heart of coal and a history of secrets. Ben Whishaw returns as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and shockingly even Jeffrey Wright is back as Felix Leiter, who hasn’t been in the series since Quantum of Solace.
The action in the movie is exactly what you’d expect out of a Bond film, and there’s a good part of the film where Bond and Nomi aren’t even working with one another. Fans of the series will get all the splosions, shooting, splosions, and ass kicking they expect and deserve. There’s plenty of choreographed scenes of car chases, helicopters, mini-guns, fist fights, knife fights, etc, etc, et all, et tu Brutus.
My favorite side character in this is David Dencik as Valdo Obruchev, whose purpose is in part to serve as comedic relief. Obruchev is sort of a triple agent scientist who doesn’t really know when to shut up, which tends to go against his best interests over the course of the film.
No Time To Die is without a doubt the most proper send off a Bond actor has ever, and probably will ever, get. The big question now is who will replace Daniel Craig, since Lashana Lynch is not a Bond and the movie at no point indicates that she might be passed the torch. Idris Elba is a popular candidate, but has recently said no.
My biggest gripe with No Time To Die is that at 2 hrs 40 minutes, it is a long film that doesn’t justify its length. For all the great moments there is a ton of unnecessary fat that could have been trimmed.