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December 06th, 2021

no time to die spotlight pageDaniel Craig and Ana De Armas in a scene from “No Time To Die.” Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Back in 2006, the world was officially introduced to Daniel Craig as he followed in the footsteps of fellow actors Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan in the role of the world’s most famous superspy James Bond (a.k.a. 007) with his debut in “Casino Royale.” 

I became a fan of Craig’s Bond portrayal pretty much immediately after watching “Casino Royale” and that’s only grown in his subsequent Bond films. When I heard Craig was officially stepping away from the role not too long before the movie’s original release date, I was majorly bummed. 

This past weekend, I made my way to the movie theater in town to watch Craig’s Bond swan song “No Time To Die,” (after SEVERAL COVID-19-related delays( after which I came away with some definite thoughts. In the movie, Bond has left active service and is enjoying a tranquil life with his girlfriend, Dr. Madeleine Swan (Léa Seydoux, first introduced in “Spectre”). However, his retirement is short-lived when his old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright, introduced in “Casino Royale”) turns up asking for help to rescue a kidnapped scientist. The mission ultimately turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain, Safin (Rami Malek) armed with some VERY dangerous new technology.

Right off the bat, I very much enjoyed the performances throughout the movie. Craig does a great job in his last outing as Bond and is able to convey a lot of emotion throughout, which is one of the reasons why I’m such a big fan of his portrayal, BECAUSE he actually portrays Bond as an actual human being instead of just another pretty boy. His moments with Madeleine, along with his final moments as Bond at the end of the movie, are extremely good to watch. Léa Seydoux was also very good – she showed a slightly more fierce side or Madeleine, and like in “Spectre,” she has very good chemistry with Craig. She has some really good moments in the movie, and I liked seeing her character again. 

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Along those lines, in the “Good But Criminally Underused” category are Lashana Lynch (who’s assigned as the new 007 in the agency) and Rami Malek as the film’s main villain. Lynch proves her mettle in the role and shows some awesome skills, but I really wish she would have been featured more, because I don’t feel like I really got a good feel for her character to get to know her. I also really enjoyed Ana De Armas as Leiter’s CIA colleague Paloma – she only has a couple major scenes in the movie when Bond has to make his way to Cuba as part of his mission, but she helps make those few scenes very memorable. I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns up in future films as a supporting character or gets her own spinoff of some sort. Rami Malek also deserved better in the movie as Safin – it’s pretty much immediately quite clear he’s evil and wants to do some major harm, but I felt he wasn’t fully properly developed enough to really care about him or his motives. Bond villains are supposed to be super memorable, and for me, Safin just wasn’t, and I feel like he could/should have been written much, much better than he was. 

Something else that could have used some improvement was the screenplay for the movie. For me, there was WAY too much exposition and I felt it took far too long for the movie to fully get to the point – and for a movie that ultimately clocks in at a slightly more than two and a half hours, that’s a problem. While everything does ultimately come together (for the most part), I feel like the writers could have easily cut a big chunk out of the beginning exposition and the movie would have worked fine without it. There are also a few things that are written into the movie that ultimately either just plateau or don’t get a full conclusion. With “No Time To Die” being the Bond franchise’s 25th outing and Craig’s final film, I feel like several parts of the screenplay could have been majorly tightened up. However, I did like the few small callbacks to Craig’s other films that were fit in, and I thought they came out well. 

Even though I felt the screenplay was too packed, I did like the different locations used, every one of them was visually nice to look at, particularly with Bond’s scenes in Jamaica. Overall, it made for a very nice jet ride around the world following Bond’s final adventure. 

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With all of that in mind, I enjoyed my trip to finally see “No Time To Die” and I would give it a B-minus. The action scenes are great, and the performances throughout are enjoyable, with some better written than others (to me, anyway). However, the screenplay was far to plot-packed, and I felt like there was a good chunk of the beginning exposition (and subsequent runtime) that could have been cut without affecting the overall quality of the movie. Overall, “No Time To Die” bids Craig’s James Bond farewell in very good style. 

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