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Review: ‘No Time to Die’ thrills audience with James Bond’s latest adventure

Photo courtesy Metro Goldwyn Mayer

By Saswat Pati     10/13/21 1:13am

Review: ★★★★½

When “No Time to Die” first was delayed due to COVID-19 in April 2020, many felt that this film was doomed. With great controversy surrounding the script, casting and even Daniel Craig himself stating that would only play Bond for the money, the consensus was that Craig’s final outing as 007 would be mediocre at best and disastrous at worst. Now releasing nearly 18 months after its anticipated release date, I can safely say that “No Time to Die” is one of the best films of the franchise.

At a runtime of two hours and 43 minutes, one would expect the film to feel glacial and tiring. However every single minute of the film is utilized, and the pacing of the film is near impeccable. Whether it be high-octane fight scenes, slower moments of conversation or magnificent set pieces, “No Time to Die” engages throughout.

The greatest aspect of this film by far is Daniel Craig’s final performance as the titular James Bond. “No Time to Die” continues the tradition of Craig’s Bond being a grittier, more sensitive character as compared to previous iterations. Though some may be turned off by this, I believe the realism Craig brings to his Bond makes the character relatable and more impressive.

In addition to this, the movie is visually stunning. Throughout my watch, there were scenes where the audience I was with audibly gasped at the events on screen. Highlights include a pursuit through an old Italian town by SPECTRE agents, a daring extraction through Havana, Cuba and, lastly, the final infiltration scene in the third act. In these moments, the intensity of the film reminded me why Bond is considered the premiere spy-action franchise. 

Another gem of this movie is actress Lashana Lynch’s performance as Nomi, Bond’s replacement as 007. Though there was some controversy around the decision to “replace” 007, Nomi fits in perfectly in this film and the world that it creates. While Bond encapsulates more of the sleek and coolness of the spy-thriller genre, Nomi feels more like a traditional soldier and her presence on screen is always, for a lack of a better word: badass. Her relationship with Bond is also portrayed quite brilliantly. There is clearly animosity between the two when they first meet at Bond’s retirement home in Jamaica, as Nomi has taken Bond’s mantle as 007 in record time. However as the film progresses, a mutual respect and even camaraderie is developed between the two in a way that neither feels forced or unnatural. I found Lynch’s performance to be excellent and well-grounded.

Though mostly positive, the movie does have some issues, primarily its villain: Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). Safin, a poison expert and terrorist, is seeking retribution against the criminal organization SPECTRE (who Bond is also against) and eventually begins a plan to purge the globe of certain individuals. He does this by creating Project Heracles, a nano-bot poison which kills an individual based on their genetic sequence, resulting in a perfect weapon. Safin however is not initially a disappointment. Without giving away spoilers, his first action in the movie truly sets him up as a serious threat and his motivation to seek revenge against SPECTRE to avenge the death of his parents gives his character great depth.

The issue with Safin is that he is set up with so much potential, but, by the third act, Safin seems to be bent on world destruction for no apparent reason besides the fact that he can. The character says that he is a god, but the script does not earn this line. Though menacing throughout the first and second acts, Safin was never portrayed as a megalomaniac, so, for me, this turn for the character was quite disappointing and cliche. For Safin to be reduced to a caricature, especially when played by Academy-Award winning actor Malek, felt cheap.

That all said, the film still retains a high quality and these issues do not feel as pertinent as they may have in other movies because the film focuses so much on Bond and the relationship he has with those around him. Aside from the villain and a plot hole at the conclusion of the movie, “No Time to Die” thrills and moves throughout and ultimately the film is a fitting, and more importantly, satisfying, conclusion to Daniel Craig’s tenure as the iconic 007. 

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