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With: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Christoph Waltz, David Dencik, Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah, Lisa-Dorah Sonnet
Written by: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, brief strong language and some suggestive material
Running Time: 163
Date: 10/08/2021

No Time to Die (2021)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Platinum Bond

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Shockingly long, and with some weak (and confusing) spots, this entry still has a grand, tragic arc, with spectacular action, and characters — both James Bond and the others — that feel more human.

Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) have fallen into a loving relationship. Madeleine wishes for Bond to find closure for his feelings for the late Vesper Lynd, but when he visits the cemetery, her memorial explodes. He's then chased by mysterious gunmen, nearly killing him. Bond realizes that Madeleine might have tipped off someone, and leaves her.

Years later, Bond is living alone, off the grid, when his old CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) approaches him, asking for help. A deadly weapon that uses nanotechnology and could destroy the world has been stolen. It could be the work of Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), although he's still in prison. It's up to Bond and some new helpers, Paloma (Ana de Armas) and Nomi (Lashana Lynch) — the latest Double-O agent — to find out who's behind this. But what's at stake when Madeleine comes back into the picture?

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (Sin Nombre, Jane Eyre, Beasts of No Nation), No Time to Die certainly could have been trimmed a bit shorter than its 2 hours and 43 minutes. A comic Russian scientist (David Dencik) is a bit much, and he recalls — and pales in comparison to — Alan Cumming's Boris Grishenko in GoldenEye (1995). And the attempt to keep the villain a secret, when Rami Malek is top-billed, seems needlessly convoluted. (Malek gives a Bela Lugosi-like performance, slathered in Boris Karloff-like makeup.) But the movie's confidence in both its action and in its characters is infectious.

Daniel Craig feels totally alive here, in amazing shape and pulling off some incredible stunts, yet his quieter scenes are even more impressive. He's allowed to feel rage and regret, and even caring. While No Time to Die includes the vodka martini, the tuxedo, the watch, the car, and "Bond, James Bond," it's not just another formulaic entry.

It shares DNA (and a song) with the series' most unique entry, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and it's thematically similar to both The Dark Knight Returns comic book and Logan movie, increasing its scope, but also deepening its emotional intensity.

The wonderfully diverse supporting cast are given many moments to show their own emotions and developments, rather than merely being there to serve or react to Bond. Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch in particular would be most welcome back in any future movies.

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