“James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.”

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Ian Fleming
Staring: Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Winshaw, Naomie Harris, Christoph Waltz
THEATERS!
Release Date: October 8, 2021

It has finally happened. No Time To Die has finally come to theaters. Was it worth the wait?

Hell yea it was.

No Time To Die begins with Bond in retirement and in love with Madeleine (Léa Seydoux). The bliss of happiness explodes and Bond’s restored faith in the idea of happily ever after is destroyed once again. Living the life of solo luxury, Bond is brought back into the fray by old CIA friend Felix Leiter when he is asked to track down a lead involving Spectre. His desire for redemption and knowledge of the enemy gets complicated when MI6 intertwines itself. The sauciness of an old legend coming home is spicy when a new 007 enters the fray and an old enemy of Spectre, Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) and Madeleine. The world is in the balance and the legacy of Bond is teetering. Time for a certain hero to save the day.

Since this movie is so new, I do not to spoil anything of the story. So let’s touch on the aspects of the story.

No Time To Die shines when the action is flowing. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga, known for True Detective (2014) and Beasts Of No Nation (2015), shows his talents when Bond is in the more dire straights. Every action set piece, whether it be set in the hills of Italy, a concert staircase or cuban jungle; the action is always easy to follow and action packed. There are quiet points among the action and there are bombastic parts as well. It fits Bond; able to be debonair when needed, but also knowing how to make a proper splash.

Where No Time To Die is mike like the Bond movies prior is in the wonderfully over-the-top corny catch phrases. The writers of this movie must have had a blast brainstorming all the ways to get the most happy eye rolls from the audience. For all Bond fans, there are plenty of other easter eggs that work their way into the story. The classic Aston Martin with all the gadgets, the homages to prior MI6 agents and previous members who held the position as M. There are more that I would not fully recognize, but I loved reading about here in an article from The East Bay Times.

In terms of the screenplay and the story, there are somethings that could be improved. In a way to raise the stakes for Bond on personal level, there is a very obvious addition to the story that changes the way Bond looks at the world and at Madeleine. It is a choice, that’s for sure.

The storyline of No Time To Die is classic in its world threatening. It is good versus evil. One man versus the world. Bond and his merry gang of MI6 friends must take down Safin (Rami Malek), who is a madmen set on unleashing biological weapons of mass destruction. The story can carry certain James Bond movies like Skyfall (2012), but for that you need a bad guy who eats up the screen like rats eat up New York Pizza. While Malek is solid as the scarred vendetta creeper, he is no Javier Bardem. His first unmasked scene with Madeleine is his best of the entire movie. It is one of the instances where clever writing on multiple subtle levels makes everything work.

If we are going to talk about performances, we first have to start with the one and only Daniel Craig. In his 15+ years as Bond, there is no denying that his portrayal of the emotionally stunted hero has evolved. It really does seem like Craig is having his best time as Bond in No Time To Die. Maybe it’s because the dialogue is more playful than in movies past? I am not inside of Craig’s head, but just reading his performance, it is written all over the wryness of her performance.

The two standout performances from No Time To Die are Léa Seydoux and Lashana Lynch.

Léa Seydoux has emotional work to do as Madeleine and raises the bar. Before the classic Bond credits even roll, we get the emoting Seydoux against the stone faced Bond. Her backstory is delved into more over the course of No Time To Die, but what’s most impressive about her character in the movie is how it contrasts to Vespyr from Casino Royale (2006). The love that Bong has (still) for Vespyr and Madeleine is so different. With Vespyr there was lust and passion, but with Madeleine it is vulnerability and sacrifice.

Lynch has the funniest role of anyone in No Time To Die. As the new 007, she is the opposite of Bond in, but the same in many ways as well. She is seductive and charismatic, but her aura is that of over confidence. It is very similar to the persona that Bond had in Casino Royale when he thought his shit didn’t stink. She changes a bit over the course of this story (a little to quick for my liking), but remains a massive highlight. It can’t go unsaid that the chemistry and dialogue written between Nomi and Bond is top notch. The dick measuring contest when bond returns to MI6 is wonderful and their constant attempt at one-up-man-ship when comes to lead of Safin is also comically good.

With that being said, there is one moment between Nomi and Bond I would have changed.

*Spoilers Alert*

Here is a bit of the screenplay that I would have changed.

Prior to heading out together on their last part of the mission, Nomi and Bond are on a video call with M and co. and the new 007 asks to have Bond reinstated as 007. While the sentiment is admirable and it shows the growth in Nomi’s character to show a bit of humility, there was a better way to go about this.

Nomi and Bond have a conversation about the number “007” and the idea that it is only a number. While we know this not to be true as viewers of the franchise, to those characters within M16, it makes sense. However, Bond is more than just a number. Bond is a an aura. Bond is reputation tattooed with damage and charisma.

Here is what I would have done if I was writing the script. I would NOT have had Nomi give “007” formally back to Bond. I would have had the mission go along as written with the same conclusion. Come the end, when the friends of Bond have gathered following the mission, I would have had M, or Nomi (if you wanted to continue with her character development) just mention a quick “thank you, 007.” Give him the the credit following the end of his story that he was always 007, and also proof that Bond when he was “007” was not just a number. He transformed to be something greater the simple number designation.

A small subtle nod for character development and appreciation.

*End Of Spoilers*

No Time To Die ends the the Daniel Craig era is James Bond in an over-the-top adventure style. The story zips up 15 years as the world renowned titular character. There are a few sticky spots where the story gets stuck and the action hits a bump, but in the end its a satisfying closing experience.

Speaking personally, Craig is the best Bond I have seen. The grittiness he brought into the franchise injected the fanbase with a fervor it was desperately needing. No Time To Die is the most “fun” of Craig’s adventures. It is the final crusade. The finale hurray. And for the fans of Bond, the final applause.

STANKO RATING: B (3.5/5 Stars)

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