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No Time To Die (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

NO TIME TO DIE (2021)

No Time to Die

Starring Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas, David Dencik, Rory Kinnear, Dali Benssalah, Lisa-Dorah Sonnet, Priyanga Burford, Brigitte Millar, Paul O’Kelly and Gianni Calchetti.

Screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.

Distributed by United Artists. 163 minutes. Rated PG-13.

To give you an idea how much the world has changed, in 2021, James Bond has become a retiree who is infatuated with the idea of being a doting family man. He is no longer a suave lady killer in a smart tuxedo, hanging in casinos and having his martinis shaken, not stirred. Our new, woke Bond wants to be a one-woman man, and his heart is melted by a five-year-old moppet.

Sean Connery would be shocked.

Actually, Bond did fall totally in love once before – to the point that he was willing to think of forever after – in an earlier chapter of the series. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – the one Bond film starring George Lazenby as 007 – actually had him getting married before his new wife was murdered by his arch-nemesis Ernst Blofeld. No Time To Die even pays tribute to this earlier, lesser-remembered Bond film, playing that earlier film’s theme song (“We’ve Got All the Time in the World” by Louis Armstrong) over the end credits – which I believe is a first for the series.

The Bond in No Time to Die may be a kinder, more sensitive guy with a license to kill, but he still has his share of thrilling adventures. The last film of the Daniel Craig era of 007, No Time to Die brings this chapter of the Bond saga to a close in an elegiac, mostly stirring and rather dramatic way.

Of course, people don’t go to a Bond movie for melancholic nostalgia, so the question remains – do the action sequences hold up?

For the most part, yes. Shockingly, this is the longest Bond movie ever (two hours and 43 minutes!), but the time mostly goes by quickly. There are the evil geniuses, hidden lairs, gunfights, bombings, car chases and derring-do that are expected of the series, as well as the pithy quips and gorgeous locations.

Of course, the main villain Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) doesn’t show up until well over an hour into the film. (Well, he does briefly seem to appear in the opening frame sequence, but he is in disguise.) And, honestly, the detached, affected way that Malek plays (or overplays) the role does the film no favors. He seems to be channeling Peter Lorre.

Much of the rest of the film is an extension of the action from the last Bond film, Spectre. In an early sequence, Bond is happily involved with that film’s heroine Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). He has quit the secret service and has basically gone off the grid. Most of his former co-workers don’t know if he is alive or dead.

While traveling in Italy with Madeleine, they are attacked by what appears to be a group of Spectre agents. Bond is led to believe that he has been betrayed by Madeleine and he cuts all ties. While she is tangentially involved – due to a childhood incident which is flashed back to at the very beginning of the film – she may be innocent. Then again, maybe not.

Flash forward five years, and Bond is still living his retiree life – mostly traveling and golfing – when his old American friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) asks him for help in an operation in Cuba which has to do with a chemical weapon which is specialized to kill only specific genetic codes and is highly transferable. When that goes spectacularly wrong Bond must come in from the cold to help his old team figure out what is going on and who is killing Spectre agents all over the world.

Part of the answer to the secret may lay with his nemesis Blofeld (again played by Christoph Waltz from Spectre, in a glorified cameo). And to get to Blofeld, he must deal with the one person who the imprisoned supervillain will speak to, Madeleine, who Bond hadn’t seen since that long-ago day in Italy.

No Time To Die wraps up the Craig years of the Bond series pretty definitively. And while the character is left in a bit of a precarious position (to say the least) at the end, the final words in the end credits are “James Bond will return.” Only time will tell who will be playing him.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 8, 2021.

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