Coming to grips with the past is the centerpiece of Bleecker Street’s family drama Montana Story. Writing and directing duo Scott McGehee and David Siegel collaborate again for the film, which I must warn viewers is a slow-moving drama.
No Time To Die is an overlong but satisfying finale to the Daniel Craig era of James Bond
Daniel Craig returns for his final outing as Ian Fleming’s superspy, James Bond, in United Artists No Time to Die. Cary Joji Fukunaga is in the director’s chair for the 25th film in the James Bond series and collaborates on the film’s screenplay with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and franchise regulars Neal Purvis & Robert Wade. Since the events of Spectre, James is ready to move on to a quiet life with Dr. Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux). Before the couple can enjoy a new life together however, they must deal with some unfinished business. Madeline informs James that they both need to deal with the demons from their past.
Madeline’s demons are established in a tense prologue sequence, while James still grieves over his dalliances with Vesper Lynd, whom you will remember from Casino Royale. Naturally, things do not go according to plan, and there is an assassination attempt on James. Thinking his ladylove has betrayed him; Bond bids her farewell and becomes a recluse. Five years later, we find James enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica. However, his peace is cut short when his old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) from the CIA turns up asking for help.
The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain named Lyutsife Safin (Rami Malek), armed with a dangerous new technology that can end all of human life. Along the way, Bond will get some assistance from new allies Nomi (Lashana Lynch), a new “00” agent, and Paloma (Ana de Armas), a CIA agent with a connection to Felix. Also along for the ride, are old friends M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw), and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris).
Frankly, the last film in the Bond series could have seen Daniel Craig walk off into the sunset. Arriving in cinemas in 2015, Spectre closed off the Daniel Craig series nicely, in my opinion. However, as they say, money talks, and Craig is back for a final hurrah. I commend the screenwriters of No Time to Die for the introductions they give to both of our lead characters. We get a chance to understand a bit more about Madeline. Moreover, how her childhood caused a domino effect in her adult life, while also getting to see James kick some ass.
Living in England back in 2005, I still remember Craig’s backlash when the announcement of his casting as the new Bond was made, due to his blond hair and short height.
However, having seen Craig in Layer Cake, I had faith in him. Most actors would fall into an autopilot performance their fifth time portraying a character, but Craig is sharp as ever and continues to bring depth to Bond, as his arc comes full circle.
Léa Seydoux was also impressive as a returning Bond Girl, while Oscar winner Rami Malek makes for a great villain. Kudos to director Cary Joji Fukunaga for playing on Rami’s physical attributes in his characterization of Rami’s villain character. The returning characters of Q, M, and Moneypenny all go through the motions, but that is fine as the actors are having fun.
What most surprised me about the film is the script’s angle for Nomi (Lashana Lynch) and Paloma (Ana de Armas). Both women are strong, can hold their own in a fight, and refuse to end up in the bed of Mr. Bond by falling privy to his charms. I would love to see more of both characters; so hopefully, we get a spin-off for the two in some format.
As much as I enjoyed No Time to Die, the film was slightly overlong for my tastes. I get that the filmmakers wanted to cram as much as possible into Craig’s final outing, but there were numerous times I checked my watch. Something I should never do during a Bond film.
Nevertheless, the impressive action sequences, a cameo from a former Bond villain, and a sensible finale for Daniel Craig’s take on James Bond earn No Time to Die my recommendation.
Final Grade: B
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