One of the first theatrical victims of the pandemic, MGM has delayed the release of Craig’s fifth and final outing by 18 months, putting 15 years between his “Casino Royale” debut and this chapter. While he hasn’t lost a step, his editions of Bond have never quite matched this dazzling introduction, and “No Time to Die” is no exception.
To its credit, this two-hour, 43-minute film (making the title a bit of a lie) diligently builds on everything recent Bond films have established, in a way that previous incarnations generally did not. This deepened the character, allowing Bond to experience heartbreak, loss, and love without hitting the reset button, despite the recurrence of villainous Blofeld.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (“True Detective”), this Bond signals his grand storytelling ambitions with perhaps the longest pre-credit streak in memory, featuring both the mysterious new villain (played by Rami Malek, apparently channeling Peter Lorre) and finding Bond happily retired.
Of course, his post-service happiness cannot last, as M (Ralph Fiennes) and his CIA friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) both strive to lure him into a mission that involves a terrible bioweapon. (perhaps not the best time for this particular plot) and his former enemies in Specter, bringing back Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and the now incarcerated Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) from that 2015 film.
An underlying theme is that the world has changed – certainly since the Cold War era in which the character was born – darkening alliances and making, as Leiter thinks, “hard to tell right from wrong.” This measure of complexity, however, did not improve on a formula based on world-threatening villains and muscle action.
As far as Bond staples go, the film features some awesome chases and action sequences, with Ana de Armas (Craig’s “Knives Out” co-star) adding another dose of female empowerment during a mission that takes Bond to Cuba.
Still, “No Time to Die” makes it seem like he’s working too hard to provide Craig with a send-off worthy of all the hype associated with it – an excess that could be summed up simply, ultimately, by taking too much time. to reach the finish.
“No Time to Die” will premiere in US theaters on October 8. It is classified PG-13.