Review by Sean Boelman
The newest James Bond film was one of the first to be delayed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is finally making its way to theaters after a year and a half of being delayed. The question that most viewers will be asking is whether No Time to Die was worth the wait, and the answer is mostly a no.
The movie follows James Bond who, having retired from service, is pulled back into action when an old friend comes knocking asking him to thwart a conspiracy involving a dangerous new weapon and unexpected connections to his past. In terms of story, it’s an old-school 007 thriller, the legendary superspy fighting against a villain with big ideas but questionable methods.
Perhaps the thing working the most against this film is its massive runtime. It clocks in at two hours and forty-three minutes, a full fifteen minutes longer than the previous longest entry, Spectre, which was criticized for having too much dead space. Although the story here is a lot more refined and deliberate, it still has some weak portions.
It’s interesting to see the franchise take a more character-driven route in this entry. This is undoubtedly the most vulnerable we have seen Bond yet, and it’s a good look for the character. Of course, we get to see the normal swagger and strength, but the script peels that back, which combined with Craig’s best performance ever in the role, makes it all the more compelling.
On the other hand, the villain in the movie is highly disappointing. Having a recent Academy Award winner in Rami Malek seemed like a good idea on paper, but his performance here just comes across as unnatural. Javier Bardem and Cristoph Waltz were highlights of their respective films as villains, but Malek’s turn will simply be forgettable.
As always, the movie has a message to go along with its villain, and it’s very obvious what it is from the beginning. However, this isn’t very distinctive in the Bond franchise or the espionage genre as a whole. The part that is more interesting is Bond’s personal arc, coming to terms with his past. It’s not always fully developed, but it poses some interesting questions.
From a technical level, the film isn’t as gorgeous as the Mendes entries, as director Cary Joji Fukunaga brings a much grittier style. The action is pretty straightforward, and while it is still exciting enough to be fun, it lacks that creative energy that would have made it stand out. And of course, Billie Eilish’s title sequence song is great.
No Time to Die is definitely a very interesting and different entry into a long-running franchise, but its attempts to blend old and new don’t always pay off. Still, it’s a mostly satisfying conclusion to Daniel Craig’s run in the lead role, and it should definitely be praised for its ambition.
No Time to Die hits theaters on October 8.