No Time to Die (2021)

No Time to Die
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre
Cast: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Christoph Waltz, David Dencik, Ana de Armas, Dali Benssalah
Seen on: 6.10.2021

Content Note: ableism/lookism

After having left behind Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) a few years ago, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has retired from service and would like to enjoy a life of leisure. But that’s easier said than done when his old friend and CIA agent Felix Leitner (Jeffrey Wright) contacts him and asks for help with a dangerous technology that was stolen, along with the scientist in charge for it. It’s a request that leads Bond right back to MI6, and to Madeleine.

No Time to Die is a bombastic ending to this incarnation of Bond that tries desperately to give Bond more emotional depth and closure, but succeeds only partly. Still, it did leave me with a certain nostalgia knowing that we’ll never get another Craig Bond.

The film poster showing James Bond (Daniel Craig) standing with his back half-turned towards the viewers. IN his silhouette are the otehr major characters of the film as well as a couple of action moments.

I am pretty sure that No Time to Die will be more appreciated by people who are really into Bond than me. A lot of it feels like a good-bye not just to Craig’s Bond but to Bond in general. Bond as he was at the very least. The film revisits some very important characters from the earlier Craig Bond movies, but also brings in more traditional Bondishness, especially with Safin (Rami Malek) who, unfortunately, replicates the “disfigured villain with an accent” trope that is just offensive and definitely outdated. Let’s hope that we’ve left that particular part of Bond movies behind for good now.

The good-bye is also apparent in Bond himself. At the beginning it seems the same old trope of “retired agent is just itching to jump back into the action” but with Bond, it really feels more like an obligation for him. He would like nothing more than to stay retired, it appears, if only the world would let him. To see him in “Dad Mode” only underscores this: this Bond feels more at home with a stuffed animal than with a Martini (that is a change I can definitely get behind).

James (Daniel Craig) standing at a bar with Paloma (Ana de Armas).

But the film isn’t just good-bye and nostalgia. With Lashana Lynch’s new 007, it seems to point toward a (often debated) future where Bond himself isn’t a white man anymore (unfortunately, Nomi was done dirty as a character, reducing her to barely having a personality apart from jealousy). And Ana de Arma’s brilliant, funny and competent Paloma (her scenes are where the film and Craig come most alive, thanks to de Arma) shows us what a female agent in the Bond-verse can actually be.

Other parts of the film just don’t work that well. It’s way too long, and the ending lacks emotional impact because it tries so hard to tug on heart-strings that it feels to manipulative, and the central technology didn’t convince me enough to make me suspend my disbelief. Safin, too, apart from the ableism that went into the character, just doesn’t convince as a villain.

Still, I’m interested to see where Bond goes from here – or if we finally retire this franchise (probably not).

James (Daniel Craig) talking to Madeleine (Léa Seydoux) in an interrogation room.

Summarizing: Probably not something to miss if you like Bond.

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