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The manufacture and release of No time to die – now on VOD – was about as tortured as Daniel Craig’s take on the character of James Bond. You probably know the story: For Craig’s fifth and final stint in the franchise, Danny Boyle was initially hired to direct, only to get away from the dreaded “creative differences” and eventually replaced by Cary Joji Fukanaga – an upgrade. level ! Then, oddly enough, Phoebe Waller-Bridge from Chip bag fame took a hit to the script. When the film was finally finished, its release date was pushed back and pushed repeatedly by Covid-19, proving that the only thing that can overshadow the international release of a mega-sensational Bond film is a global pandemic. This is why seven years have elapsed between him and his predecessor Spectrum, which was average, but much better than Quantum of Solace, which followed the very good Casino Royale, although none of them will ever equal the majesty of Fall from the sky. Analysis of the preceding sentence reveals a pattern of all other null films among the Craig-as-Bond films, which means No time to die is ready to be one of the good ones, hopefully. We’ll see.

The essential: Summarizing a Bond plot is about as rewarding as teaching cats math, and almost as convoluted, but I’m moving forward: it opens on a winter’s day in rural France, where a mask Kabuki spares the life of a little French girl after killing her mother. This little girl looked like Bond’s current love, Spectrum remains Madeleine (Léa Seydoux), who shakes up the flashback while they are on vacation that make postcards look like superfund sites. In their hotel room is an antique phonograph with a large horn on it, proving that the vintage vinyl revival is out of control. But, I hear you thinking, where’s the big brand opening action sequence? Patience, friends. You will have to practice, because this movie is 163 minutes long. Although Madeleine bristles a bit at the mention of her name, Bond goes to the grave of his true true love, Vesper Lynd, where he finds a bomb that nearly wins him off, precipitating scuffles with villains, a motorcycle ride, a chase in which Bond drives an old-fashioned gadgetmobile with machine guns in the headlights, etc.

It’s quite the pickle, but Bond pulls it off, because of course he does. It also requires her break up with Madeleine, followed by a credits sequence in which a DNA chain is graphed with 9mm guns as links, then a subtitle: FIVE YEARS LATER. Bond is retired somewhere in the Caribbean, Jamaica maybe, I’m not quite sure, because it’s not one of those high tech thrillers where locations scroll at the bottom of the screen. like a digital readout – it’s better than that, less flattery. Regardless, he always points a gun at the shadows, because if anyone is justified in their paranoia, it’s post-career James Bond.

With some laughter involving Eurotrash villains – one of which has a bulging glass eye that’s also a nifty electro weapon – Bond ends up getting back to the action, but not for Mother England. No, he’s teaming up with his former CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) and his pal Poloma (Ana de Armas) for a great party at a chic night out in Santiago. Notably, M (Ralph Fiennes) replaced Bond with Nomi (Lashana Lynch), who even gets the 007 rating, because no one is going to get sentimental about the shit here. Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and the villain of the last movie, Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) also appear, because like I said, 163 minutes.

The plot ties into a knot or three, involving a Russian scientist and biological warfare and nanobots – recently seen in a moron GI Joe movie and even more moronic Covid vaccine conspiracy theories – plus a new villain, creepy and heavily pockmarked Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), who makes sure Madeleine gets reintroduced into the plot, since the latest Bond really and truly lets the women in his life hit him right in his pasty shells. Before it all ends with escalating music, explosions and tears, Bond wears a cap and drives a Toyota Forerunner, but luckily not at the same time. You have been warned.

NO TIME TO DIE FILM
Photo: © MGM / Courtesy Everett Collection

What movies will this remind you of? : It’s time to categorize the Craig-era Bond photos:

1. Fall from the sky
2. No time to die
3. Casino Royale
4. Spectrum
5. Quantum of Consolation

NOTES: Sorry, the end of Casino Royale is still nonsense, despite Vesper’s heart-wrenching arc, so it doesn’t eclipse the new movie and its massive third act bloat. Fall from the sky transcends the franchise as one of the top action films of the modern era. And I wish I could rank Quantum of Consolation inferior.

Performances to watch: Spectrum found Craig looking weary in the role of super-spy. But he seems invigorated for No time to die, maybe because he knew it would end his tenure behind the martini glass. He brought a new emotional depth to Bond that could have ruffled a few purist feathers – Craig still looks a little shiny, his veins protruding beneath the stoic glow, as if he was keeping all the psychotraumatic things in his life’s life. an assassin below the surface. Modern times demand just as much, lest these films be the forgettable gossip of the Brosnan and Dalton years. Craig has done well Bond for the 21st century.

Memorable dialogue: Madeleine becomes metatextual sentimental: “If only we had more time.

Gender and skin: NOTHING. Bond is so asexual in this film that you would think he was auditioning for a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Our opinion : After the big, big, and disappointing Who Cares that was Spectrum, No time to die is a welcome sight. Fukunaga is an extraordinary director and is able to take on a heavy and very stressful franchise and guide it with a confident hand. As usual, Bond is tearing up in old round cars – instead of sharp new cars, naturally – and loaded with cutting edge bang-bangs, and Fukanaga is also armed, with a long-drawn-out fight. . footage and a lot of digital trickery, but not so much that you’ll get CGI poisoning.

The modern Bond director’s main job is to spend a ridiculous amount of money wisely, giving the action sequences enough visual panache to make the film stand out from its boisterous cinematic brethren. And so we’ve got a bite-worthy chase through Italian cobblestone streets, a outnumbered Leap foiling a swarm of villains in a misty forest, a tight escape from a ship heading for the deep Pacific and the real one. centerpiece, fists -and-guns night Santiago alongside Ana de Armas – doing what amounts to an oversized cameo – in a classic where-exactly-she-wears-the-dress-dress extra munitions.

All of this makes the great play of the third act a puffed up afterthought, weighed down by the envelopment of many things that it needs to be. It takes place in the usual Soviet-era concrete missile silo converted into a villain’s luxury lair, complete with pools of bio-poison and a few soap boxes for Malek, who looks terribly creepy but is ultimately a bit boring – fitting in perfectly with the Craig Era movies, which made heavy hitters like Waltz, Mathieu Amalric, Javier Bardem, and Mads Mikkelsen as the evil brains of Dullsville. The tracks in the finale are pretty good, but overall it’s just Just Fine.

Beyond that, Fukunaga nurtures Bond’s emotional journey – as he is; He’s not a master of brutality like John Wick, but neither is he Anne of Green Gables – in the home stretch. The spy’s inner life remains largely unspoken, most of the time a throbbing forehead vein, but under the relentless strain of just being Bond and the countless assassinations weighing on his conscience, he has retained the ability to love. really, really someone. It’s not nothing.

Our call: Stream it. No time to die is a fitting and exciting sendoff for Daniel Craig as James Bond.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work on johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.

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