HOLLYWOOD—Let me start by pointing out the latest James Bond flick “No Time to Die” is quite long to say the least. It clocks in at 2 hours and 43 minutes and might be the longest Bond movie for Daniel Craig in his final outing as the British spy. He burst on the scene with “Casino Royale” which was the first introduction of the actor to the world as the latest to tackle the iconic role. He followed that with the lackluster “Quantum of Solace” before delivering what many including myself consider Craig’s best work in “Skyfall.”
It is also hard to fathom that this is the 25th (yes you heard me correctly) in the franchise. In addition to Craig, there is a host of actors and actresses for this flick that is just satisfying end for Craig in his fifth film. We open “No Time to Die” to discover that James Bond has retired, but we’re getting flashbacks to James’ former lover, Dr. Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux).
There is a secret Madeleine is keeping and the writers’ attempt to pull the wool over the audience is quite predictable if you’ve ever watched a movie with what some people would call a twist. I’m not calling the reveal predictable, but let’s just say you’ll know exactly where things are headed as the movie unfolds.
However, the writers do indeed deliver a shocking moment in the flick that I will NOT spoil for viewers that left me aghast because I didn’t see it coming, which pinpoints the script for “No Time to Die” is a roller coaster to say the least. There are times where there is that dead energy and then bomb you’re stunned with a reveal you didn’t expect. In our latest flick, Bond goes toe-to-toe with Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). Is Malek’s Safin the greatest bond villain in the five flicks that Craig has appeared in? No, I would rank him maybe the second best, but the first still goes to Javier Bardem’s wicked villainy in “Skyfall.” Malek is an interesting actor where he plays these characters that have this odd cadence to their tone in their voice and the mannerisms that just come off quirky.
Malek is on a mission to unleash a deadly virus that spreads like a wildfire, yeah, that narrative seems to be the goal of many bond villains, very few do we see just out for blood revenge, but it works. With that said, this flick delivers plenty and I mean plenty of epic action sequences that include car chases, planes, explosions, fist fights and gun battles that will indeed satisfy Bond fanatics. Craig and Malek are just a glimmer of the talent in this movie which also includes Naomie Harris returning as Eve Moneypenny, Lashawna Lynch as Nomi, the new agent who springs into action after Bond retires, Ralph Fiennes as M, Christoph Waltz reprising his role as villain Ernst Stavro Blofled, Jeffrey Wright, Ana de Armas, Ben Winshaw and Billy Magnussen.
The ending of “No Time to Die” did not blow my socks off, I kind of expected it, but it works and gives a fitting farewell to Craig who has captured the hearts of fans for the past 15 years since taking on the role. If about 20-25 minutes of the flick were trimmed you might have a tighter Bond movie with a more effective impact. Not sure what is going on with cinema nowadays where everyone thinks the longer the movie the better.
Not quite, especially when you have scenes that serve no purpose, give no character development and do not propel the narrative in any fashion. If we were ranking all the Bond flicks starring Craig, “No Time to Die” fits snuggly in that middle spot right behind “Skyfall” and “Casino Royale.”