“Some things can’t be ignored. You can only conquer your past if you choose to face it.” – Linda Wisdom
The last year and a half has been a serious test for all of us. From the life altering changes like loved ones lost to COVID to a temporary loss as we’ve been forced to distance ourselves from those we care about most. It’s something none of us will ever forget; we are truly living in a historical time. Being fully aware that far more serious things are going on, something that has been missing is that escape of the movies normally always there to let us forget the mess of reality. Recently reality has said we aren’t even allowed that small luxury either. We’ve really had no choice but to face this thing, cold and sober. Well, sober in a sense anyway, you’re all a bunch of alcoholics.
Finally, to an extent, movies are coming back to provide that coveted escape. One of the most affected films, it’s release date moved at least three times and the reason I’m writing this nonsense, is Bond’s 25th adventure, No Time To Die. I’m happy to confirm that without question on October 8th of 2021 Daniel Craig’s final outing as the suave, sophisticated spy codenamed 007 will be released in theaters. Yes, theaters. Fuck your streaming, go to a god damn theater. I’ve been off track from the very beginning of this review. Let me focus.
For one last hurrah Daniel Craig returns as James Bond, a man stoic and tormented determined to put his past to rest once and for all. As he finds himself in love again, despite his apprehension to such things, he knows her past and all its complications are now his burdens too. What he knew once and the present is determined to remind him of is the idea that no matter his desires the price to pay for those dreams are gargantuan and possibly permanent. Still, the perseverance of Bond is unwavering and a true force to be reckoned with. We find Bond as a sleeping monster, soon awakened to crush his enemies into oblivion. For the sake of his foes, may they have their affairs in order; Bond is impending.
After Danny Boyle dropped out over creative differences the talented force that is Cary Joji Fukunaga was brought in to helm Craig’s final outing. Having seen his previous works I was intrigued by the idea of Fukunaga taking on Bond. One thing I remember him for most is season 1, episode 4 of True Detective for a particular six minute sequence many simply call “The Shot.” It is a work of thrilling brilliance featuring a single six minute take without edits showcasing perfectly paced action acting as a fantastic demonstration of his abilities as an action director. When he was picked to direct Bond25 I went back to this scene and I knew Bond was in good hands.
Not only did I expect great visuals based off that one sequence it made me hopeful for yet another single take with Bond kicking ass and taking names. Fukunaga delivered among other moments, a single take of Bond ascending a staircase and handily dealing with faceless villains making for a memorable and visceral sequence reminiscent of Atomic Blonde’s wondrous staircase scene made famous by Charlize Theron. (Side note: If Bond should ever become a woman, I am absolutely for Theron in the role. She would own it.) It’s actually one of the few moments not spoiled in the trailers.
Unfortunately much of the movie’s biggest scenes are on display in one way or another in the trailers making otherwise exciting sequences moments we’ve already experienced to a degree. If you somehow missed all the trailers over the last two years you are in for a real treat. This isn’t to say they aren’t really awesome scenes to experience in a theater environment, there’s definitely some deflation there. I don’t think that’s really anyone’s fault considering the ordeal still ongoing as we speak. Still, it sucks.
A real standout in the film is Lashana Lynch as the new 007. She is feisty and capable as Bond’s replacement. (If you take issue with this story choice, first, shut up. Second, watch the damn movie before you judge, you might be surprised.) From the beginning she is perplexed by Bond and his chaotic way of operating but somehow always completing his mission. At first she is resistant to his ways, determined to right the ship that she sees Bond steering into shallow waters. Before long however she sees the method in his madness and becomes more ally than obstacle. If she can’t prevent him, join him. Afterall, two 00’s are better than one. Lynch as this new special agent is a scene stealer. She is spunky and exhilarating to watch as she balances her own tasks with staying out of Bond’s immense wake left behind everywhere he goes. She is his equal and their chemistry is a real highlight of the film.
For my money the biggest weakness of No Time To Die is its villain, at no fault to Rami Malek and his performance. It’s simply the character he is forced to play, a megalomaniac determined to exact his revenge against those that have wronged him. Of course his grand plan is massive and overblown and not simply contained to those he wants to attack personally. He is a one dimensional supervillain with mythological weaponry that will destroy the world. Insert Bond to stop him. It doesn’t feel significant or in any way original.
Casino Royale’s villain, Le Chiffre was complex and under his own timetable as shadowy figures closed in on him. His clash with Bond is personal and inevitable therefore engaging. Skyfall’s Silva was burdened by his deteriorating sanity as he pursued his once mentor now perceived enemy and will exact his personal vengeance against those who wronged him. His influence on the collateral damage he creates is necessary only to continue his mission of destroying M and her new protégé, Bond. Their motivations not only made sense, they were to a point relatable. You could understand their feelings of betrayal and lack of choices. Rami Malek is fun to watch and certainly evil with his gnarly scars and ominous whisper way of talking but his goals feel out of touch despite his motivations of killing his family’s killers making sense to anyone with loved ones and an inherent desire to protect them. He just becomes too comic book villain complete with a billion dollar secret lair.
No Time To Die is for the most part well worth the wait and numerous delays it and we endured. Daniel Craig’s swan song as the secret agent is worthy of a visit to the theaters. His performance is as commanding as ever and he delivers moments of subtle heartbreak and yearning equally as convincing as his efforts in the action sequences shooting and driving and running until his lungs just might explode from exhaustion. I want to end this by saying I’m biased about this franchise. I’m able to overlook the shortcomings of each installment simply because so far every film has delivered its basic requirements of being a fun action thriller with a charismatic lead and supporting cast. That’s all I’ve ever asked of these movies. No Time To Die is a ton of fun and feels like a proper send off for Craig, my true Bond. (No offense to Brosnan)
Rated PG-13 For: sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, brief strong language and some suggestive material
Runtime: 163 minutes
After Credits Scene: No (But Bond will Return)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Starring: Daniel Craig, Lashana Lynch, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek
Directed By: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Out of 10 Nerdskulls
Story: 7/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 8.5/ Visuals: 9
OVERALL: 8.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes. (Get vaccinated)
Check out the trailer below:
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