No Time to Die

The final Daniel Craig appearance as James Bond has finally come out after being delayed several times due to COVID-19. It is the official 25th film in the Bond franchise (though there are a few others that typically are not considered part of the franchise).

The Daniel Craig series of Bond films are very up and down. They have a couple of films that have to be considered top five/ten of all time with Skyfall and Casino Royale, but also has some of the lesser Bond films, such as Quantum of Solace.

No Time to Die picks up where the previous film had left Bond, retired and living with his love Madeleine (Léa Seydoux). However, when some shenanigans from Spectre occur and Bond is approached by his old friend from the CIA, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), James finds himself back in the action.

This time, the villain is Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), who has stolen a new and deadly weapon that allows the user to target specific individuals’ DNA for destruction. Safin has a past connection with Madeleine that he will exploit for his dirty deals.

There is a lot going on in this movie, and because of that, it feels as if Rami Malek got short changed in his role. As a villain, he does not stand out despite being visually appealing and having a potential back story that could make him one of the upper echelon Bond bad guys. There was just so much packed into the film that, even at 2 hours and 43 minutes, the screen time for Malek was at a minimum.

The action is beautifully directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga and the cinematography was excellent once again. The action is full out thrilling, from several cool car chases to the invasion of an island base (as much of a staple of a Bond film as you are going to find).

I’ve heard some people complain about the length, but I distinctly remember feeling that the film was flying by and I was never bored. There may be a few scenes here and there that could be cut for time, but I do not think there was anything obviously needing to go. I was fully engaged in the film all the way through.

Daniel Craig ends his run as James Bond in exceptional fashion. Although some of the Bond films may not be as strong as the others, Daniel Craig always gave his all every time. This one is no exception. He is the one actor playing Bond to create a feeling of anguish or melancholy in the super spy.

The great side cast continues to be awesome, with Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, Jeffrey Wright as Felix, Lashana Lynch as Nomi, and Rory Kinnear as Tanner. There was also the debut of Ana de Armas as CIA operative Paloma.

The ending did become too much of a gunfight for my taste, but it was rescued by some real emotion in the final few scenes, unlike most Bond films before it.

While this movie may not reach the heights of Skyfall and Casino Royale, it is only a few steps behind. If Rami Malek was used better, you might be looking at one of the tops in the franchise. Still, it is a great watch and was certainly worth the extra wait.

4.5 stars

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