“Do you expect me to talk?” No Mister Bond, I expect you to die.” – an exchange between Sean Connery as James Bond and Gert Fröbe in 1964’s Goldfinger.
No Time to Die is the 25th movie from Eon Productions. The others with the word “die” in the title were Live and Let Die, Tomorrow Never Dies (due to a mistake we can review later) and Die Another Day. It is the fifth and supposedly final time Daniel Craig will play Ian Fleming’s creation on the big screen. If we ignore Sean Connery’s 1983 Never Say Never Again, the 15 years that Craig has “been” Bond is a record in terms of chronologic tenure.
The release of this movie had been delayed so many times that the film’s star had appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon twice to promote the film; over a period spanning more than 12 months. But it is finally here and was worth the wait.
The film opens with a flashback to when “Madeleine” (Lea Seydoux – The Grand Budapest Hotel) was a child. Her father, “Mr. White” (Jesper Christensen) was the target of an assassination attempt by “Lyutsifer Safin” (Rami Malek, who was rewarded with a well-deserved Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody). Madeleine’s mother is murdered by Safin. Safin is shot by Madeleine but survives.
Following the capture of “Ernst Stavro Blofeld” (Christophe Waltz) as depicted in 2015’s Spectre. Madeleine and Bond become lovers. Is she trying to help him or betray him by convincing him to visit the grave of “Vesper Lynd” to gain closure. When the grave explodes and Bond barely escapes more attempts to kill him, he parts ways with Madeleine.
Fast forward five years and a now retired Bond is living a life of leisure in Jamaica. An ongoing dispute that has MI6 and the CIA refusing to work together results in “Felix Leiter” (Jeffrey Wright – Cadillac Records) seeking out Bond to help him stop a threat never seen before. A weapon that can target individuals and/or groups based on their DNA.
Safin has control of this weapon, whose origin is surprising. Bond seeks to stop him from using it. Its potential destructive value is displayed in the one large-scale use of it during the film.
Aside from the help of Felix Leiter, Bond gets assistance from the agent who is now designated as 007, “Nomi” (Lashana Lynch – Captain Marvel), CIA Agent “Paloma” (Ana de Armas – War Dogs) and “Logan Ash” (Billy Magnussen – Ingrid Goes West)
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga earned a nomination for Best Director and Best Cinematography for 2015’s Beasts of No Nation. He also shares credit for the script for No Time to Die with Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The action sequences are first-rate. Daniel Craig was 52 when most of the principal photography was done. The difference is palpable in the physicality of his performance. Not a criticism as much as noting the visible difference. Considering that he is much better in that part of the role here than were Sean Connery (52 when shooting Never Say Never Again) and Roger Moore (57 when shooting A View to a Kill), the way the filmmakers handled Bond’s physical endeavors was done well. Rami Malek is an extremely talented actor and he makes Safin one of the toughest villains Bond has faced. Ana de Armas is a pleasure to watch in her all too brief turn as an agent who supposedly had only three weeks of training.
The movie is filled with homages to prior Bond films. That makes sense since we are less than one year away from the 60th anniversary of the release of Dr. No. I won’t bore you with a complete list, but will note that there are portraits of Bernard Lee, Robert Brown and Judi Dench in the office of the current “M” Ralph Fiennes.
You do not need to go back and re-watch older Bond film to thoroughly enjoy No Time to Die.