“No time to die” review: James Bond shaken, public restless

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“No Time to Die” is the last episode of James Bond and the last with Daniel Craig. Her performance elevates – except ennobling – the dramatic core of an otherwise choppy narrative, a succession of impressive but impersonal action sequences and touching interludes that lead to a moving climax.

Time matters more than the title. The film is about the haunting passage of time – how long its hitherto indestructible hero saved the planet from a bountiful supply of evildoers, how years and decades have given and taken him. (The runtime, not coincidentally, is 163 minutes, including a few late slumps. It’s in theaters Wednesday.) When the story picks up speed after a short, pungent preface, Bond and the woman he carefully allowed himself to love, Léa Seydoux’s psychiatrist, Madeleine Swann, are in a car on a steep road in southern Italy. This is not just any car, but the same venerable Aston Martin DB5 they happily left in at the end of the 2015 “Specter”. Now, the day after their jaunt, she wants them to. he drives faster, but he resists: “We have all the time in the world,” he says calmly.

They don’t, of course. The years weigh heavily on both of them, and they affect us too. Fifteen of them have passed since our shocking first encounter with Mr. Craig as 007 in “Casino Royale”. (He was anything but suave and far from conventionally good-looking.) At this point, it’s somewhere between hard and impossible to imagine anyone else playing Bond, a role that has always not only defined the franchise but also the allure of sleek action on the big screen.

Daniel Craig as James Bond and Ana de Armas as Paloma


Photo:

DANJAQ / MGM

The new opus is enthralling for its energy and its scale, despite its flaws and its derivative themes, and makes a great appreciation for its star. Does that mean its release will bring the movie industry back to full health, as many have hoped throughout the pandemic and all the delays that have plagued production? Of course not. If the business is to be saved – as a self-sustaining cultural force rather than an occasional alternative to streaming – it won’t be through a single feature, although that will fill a pent-up hunger for entertainment and rack up huge revenue at worldwide. A better question is what to expect from “No Time to Die”, and the answer is more than it offers, as distinctive as the film may be – and as it is – for its emotional frankness. . (The director was Cary Joji Fukunaga, working from a screenplay he wrote with Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.)

Rami Malek as Safin


Photo:

DANJAQ / MGM

As the threats to the planet disappear, the news is very toxic and not very original. It is, for lack of a more concise description, a sort of redoubled helix of DNA, all shimmering and shimmering in high-tech test tubes, but armed to target individuals, or, for that matter, nations. whole. If you think it sounds like a first cousin of Covid-19, well, yes, but Covid was not developed by a secret government project named Heracles that should have been shut down a long time ago (nuance by Jason Bourne) , or hijacked by a mad terrorist thirsting for revenge. (His name is Lyutsifer Safin – it sounds like “Lucifer” if you slander him correctly – and he played Rami Malek with hollow-eyed goosebumps.)

Lashana Lynch as Nomi


Photo:

DANJAQ / MGM

The character cast includes the evergreen villain Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz with eerily effective restraint after a terribly disturbing prelude to a confrontation between him and Bond. There’s also a new 007, given that Bond has been put on pasture – tumultuous pasture, as it grows – and its numeric designation with it. Her name is Nomi and she is played by Lashana Lynch. The character isn’t interesting, however, and little is done about the threat she poses to Bond, or her connection to him once he joins the hunt for Safin and his lair.

Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M and Rory Kinnear as Tanner


Photo:

DANJAQ / MGM

The most notable breath of fresh air – an explosion, not just a breath – is provided by Ana de Armas as Paloma, a Havana-based CIA agent who happens to be the actress’ hometown. . (She and Mr. Craig were teammates in Rian Johnson’s delightful 2019 thriller “Knives Out.”) Paloma has terribly little screen time, but she’s a hoot, a spy with a cheerful pace and athletic flair. , it doesn’t matter that she claims to have only had three weeks of training, or that Ms. De Armas can give us a glimpse of her performance as the fictional Marilyn Monroe in the upcoming “Blonde” by giving Paloma an extra hint almost innocent breathing.

Daniel Craig as James Bond


Photo:

DANJAQ / MGM

As for the relationship between Bond and Madeleine de Madame Seydoux, who has given unwavering support to her mission in “Specter”, it is inevitably hampered by what one might call trust issues in an inferior mortal, and what equates to almost impenetrable spiritual armor. in the case of 007. Here, however, in his final and majestic appearance, Mr. Craig opens the gaunt and gallant agent to the possibility of new love and a brighter future. The next incarnation of Bond, whoever he is, will have a big heart as well as big shoes to fill.

Write to Joe Morgenstern at [email protected]

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