REVIEW: ‘No Time to Die’


Kind of ironic that the title of this movie is “No Time to Die”, considering that for many of Bond’s adversaries, they have plenty of time (some in glorious fashion, might I add).

Daniel Craig’s swan song as James Bond, “No Time to Die” hit theaters on Oct. 8. Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (and co-written by the wonderful Phoebe Waller-Bridger) this film showcases Craig’s return alongside co-stars Naomie Harris, Léa Seydoux, and Ralph Fiennes and tells the story of James Bond’s final standoff to save the world. Bond has left active service and has gone off the grid. But when Felix Leiter (played by Jeffrey Wright) tracks him down and delivers news about a new villain with dangerous world-destroying technology, he comes out of hiding one last time to put a stop to it.

The phrase “one last time” is one that is extremely bitter-sweet to me, as Daniel Craig’s Bond run has been a highlight of my movie-going experience for years now. You may ask, “Amidst all of the final films for Bond eras (Sean Connery Pierce Brosnan, etc.) how does this one fair?” The answer is: It exceeds expectations. This is a magnificent final bow for Craig; one that will leave many still thinking about it long after the credits roll.

To begin, the action is stylishly thrilling. This generation of Bond films (particularly “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall”), has set a new precedent for not only future films in the series, but for action movies as a whole, and unlike “Spectre”, this film thankfully carries on the tradition of grand action on a breathtaking scale.

There was a phenomenal one-take action sequence on a staircase that had me borderline bouncing in my seat in the theater as it continuously stretched on. The way the actors carried themselves on screen whilst performing said action sequence was eye-candy. Particularly skilled, Ana De Armas felt like a natural on screen even though she wasn’t featured for very long.

As much as I would have adored seeing her on screen for longer, I’m glad we got what we got and I’m quite hopeful that we’ll get to see her again in future installments.

The cinematography is also beautiful to behold. I feel it has become status quo for me to say that about this generation of Bond films, but I’d be remiss if I just skipped over this important detail. So many shots flawlessly capture the breathtaking set pieces in beautiful fashion, which is due in part to cinematographer Linus Sandgren (who helmed the cinematography for “La la Land” and “First Man”). In the category of looks, this film walks the runway with ease.

As for the category of character work, this film stands tall. Daniel Craig is, of course, stellar as Bond, but another standout to me was Lashana Lynch who inherits the role of 007 after he leaves secret services. There’s a funny scene where Craig and Lynch argue over what the title of 007 really means and it puts a lot of the past entries into perspective (it’s just a number).

Ana De Armas, as stated earlier, is also fantastic here but let’s focus on the real standout: Rami Malek… my God what an actor. One of the issues with the previous entry in this series, “Spectre”, was that Christoph Waltz, who was supposed to be playing the villain of all villains in this Bond universe, didn’t even feel like a serious threat at all.

Throughout that movie, he was totally underwhelming and his performance felt very flat and stale. I get what he was trying to do with the whole calm and collected psychopath persona, but he felt too unrealistically calm for someone with such a notorious violent nature. I, along with many others, expected more. Rami Malek, on the other hand, is entirely different. Malek may not be the powerhouse villain that Javier Bardem was in “Skyfall”, but he still managed to give me some serious chills.

Where Waltz fails to properly portray a placid psychopath, Malek succeeds in every way and then some. Many times his ghoulish eyes and serpentine voice made me physically uncomfortable. That’s what I wanted. I know that may sound strange, but Malek did what Waltz couldn’t—gives us a villain that seeps under the skin.

Now, not every aspect of this film worked for me. Waltz reappears as Blofeld in this film and is just as underwhelming as before. When he came back on the scene, it felt like Fukunaga was trying to give me goosebumps, but I didn’t feel anything at all. It was a bit of a bore to me which is quite disappointing to say since Waltz is such an incredible actor. The blame doesn’t fully lie with Fukunaga, however, as it was Sam Mendes (director of “Spectre”) who designed Waltz’s character in the first place.

Furthermore, there’s a Russian scientist in this movie that was meant to provide a bit of comic relief but mostly came across as annoying. He never developed into a complete nuisance, but he did get on my nerves a few times.

In summary, this is the best conclusion to Daniel Craig’s run as Bond I could have asked for. Not every dimension works as well as it could have (with Waltz in particular), but the minor issues are certainly not enough to make me dislike this film. The action, personal story, and gorgeous set pieces among many other things, make this film arguably the best final bow for a Bond actor in history. It’s now playing exclusively in theaters (which feels so good to say) and I encourage all of you to squeeze this movie into your schedule. Man, talk about a bitter-sweet finale.


Jury declares: A-