No Time To Die

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Like so many actors before him the time has come for Daniel Craig to close the book on James Bond. When Daniel Craig first appeared on screen in the classic 007 logo the audience cheered. I could feel the excitement and anticipation in the air. No Time To Die (2021) set out to conclude the Daniel Craig helmed reboot of the franchise by tying up loose ends and giving Bond an arc worthy of a 21st century hero. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga delivered this well enough even if a greater emphasis was put on prolonged action sequences than characterization.

Despite all of the self aggrandizing and sentimentality of No Time To Die the film just wasn’t that affective. No Time To Die sells its farewell just a little too hard. If the farewell phone conversation between Craig and Léa Seydoux wasn’t enough, the film still has two more endings. The last of which features Seydoux driving with her daughter (whom Bond fathered) promising the child “I’m going to tell you the story of a man named Bond, James Bond”. It’s a brief sequence that belabors the point to comical proportions. It’s felt like Bond died over a decade ago anyway when campy over the top villains and a bombastic score left the franchise.

The best scenes of No Time To Die are those set in Cuba where Craig’s Bond teams up with Ana de Armas. de Armas’ character Paloma, a CIA operative, is beyond excited to be active in the field after her three weeks of training. Add to that she’s wearing one of the best gowns seen in any 007 movie while she kicks Spectre ass. In her drapey gown Ana de Armas fights as if she’s dancing. She moves with the savage energy and grace of Michael Kidd’s choreography. In terms of action sequences this is the best in No Time To Die or of most Bond pictures.

There is also a rapport between Craig and de Armas that is missing from the former’s scenes with Léa Seydoux. Re-teamed with his Knives Out (2019) co-star, Craig’s Bond gets to enjoy some actual witty banter, a little bit of charm, and even some subtle subversion of Bond’s legacy a “man’s man”. When de Armas parts the film after, appearing all too briefly, she and Craig congratulate each other on a job well done.

Putting the fifteen or fewer minutes aside that feature Ana de Armas No Time To Die is a kind of greatest hits of the Craig years (even with the introduction of the new 007 Lashana Lynch). Elements of all his previous outings as Bond reappear thinly veiled by Fukunaga’s “white knuckle” sensibilities. With a running time of roughly two and a half hours No Time To Die begins to feel like a bit of a slog. Bond films are the epitome of “popcorn” movies and the self-seriousness of No Time To Die just feels like a bad joke.