By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer
After a long series of delays due to changing directors and the COVID-19 pandemic, Daniel Craig’s fifth and final James Bond film finally made its theatrical debut last Friday, bringing in $300 million at the global box office. The 25th film in the iconic franchise, “No Time to Die” has tons of action and goes places no previous Bond films have dared to go, but a bloated runtime and repetitive villain prevent it from delivering a wholly satisfying conclusion to Craig’s run as 007.
When an MI6 scientist is kidnapped along with a deadly biological weapon he was developing, Bond is called out of retirement by his CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) to track him down. The mission leads Bond to cross paths with his former lover and ally Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and the mysterious and deranged terrorist Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek).
The film opens strong, with some simply gorgeous cinematography in its opening minutes followed by a nail-biting car chase scene. The action is where “No Time to Die” really shines; there are many tense shootouts, tight car chases and big explosions that almost did a good enough job of keeping my interest throughout the 163-minute runtime. The pacing of the film races at some points and slows at others. While I found myself enthralled in the exciting action set pieces, I was nearly falling asleep in between them.
The acting and writing in the film is strong. At the end of his journey which started in the soft-reboot “Casino Royale,” Bond has grown to be weathered and no-nonsense, a welcome departure from the Bond portrayals of old in which the continuity resets after each film. He’s constantly dealing with issues of his past, and Daniel Craig does a great job of balancing the classic Bond suaveness while adding new depth to the character. As the emotional depth is balanced well with moments of humor, the film can tend to be a bit slow at times but is carried by the relationships of its main characters.
The villain Safin is where most of “No Time to Die” goes wrong. He isn’t even introduced until nearly halfway through the story, and while his first few scenes establish him as a dark and mysterious figure, he quickly becomes just another basic Bond villain caricature. He is scarred, wants revenge and seeks world domination, and his rambling monologues are a bit too dramatic. They make Safin seem like an overly serious goth kid rather than the chilling philosophical madman he was intended to be. While his early motivations are humble, Safin’s plan soon evolves to ridiculous heights of megalomania and make him a boring clone of previous Bond villains.
With great action and cinematography, “No Time to Die” is full of vibrant, exciting visuals and packs an entertaining punch. The continuity that Craig brings to Bond films also adds a nice layer to the story, and it really makes the franchise feel cohesive and gives “No Time to Die” a sense of finality. The conclusion of the film is exciting as well and without giving too much away, it does make me excited to see where the Bond franchise will go next. If you can get past the long runtime and goofy villain, “No Time to Die” ends the Craig’s Bond run in style. While it may not be as good as other Craig’s other Bond films, it is certainly entertaining and worth a watch for both fans of Bond and fans of action movies in general.