Boy, it feels good to be back in a theatre after an almost two-year break. We Indians were deprived of several theatrical releases here due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we're finally (touchwood) going to be able to watch movies on the big screen. Just please be vaccinated and follow safety protocols, we implore all.
Daniel Craig really shook up the Bond franchise when he burst onto the scene with Casino Royale
in 2006 with a refined, grittier and more physical Bond that took a massive detour from its campy yesteryears counterparts. Unlike the standalone Bond movies featuring Connery, Moore or Brosnan, there have been elements of an extended storyline in Craig's Bond - a concept that continues in No Time To Die.
Therefore, of course, the first thing we do is to revisit Vesper Lynd. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), Bond's paramour in Spectre
, convinces Bond to go see the grave of his enigmatic past lover who haunts him, and everything goes awry. Bond blames Swann for the ambush in Italy, and disappears in a fashion similar to how he did in Skyfall
- only to have to resurface when a deadly DNA-based weaponised virus is stolen by an unknown antagonist. Oh, and M (Ralph Fiennes) at the MI6 has since replaced him with a new 007 agent, Nomi (Lashana Lynch), and so Bond is now working alongside Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) with the CIA.
The expected hijinks ensue, everyone is racing against time to recover the stolen virus, and 007 is finally there to save the day. Or is he? Or she?
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga has done a splendid job with the action scenes, and in imparting a weighty emotional side to Craig's Bond swansong. The movie takes its time with a long series of goodbyes (and there are quite a few of them), and memories, and past references. Fukunaga has also made a relatively absurd plot watchable for far longer than the usual runtime of 90 minutes.
He has, however, dropped the ball when it comes to the movie's duration - for a film that has "No Time" in its title, No Time To Die drags along for far too long. It is a tale of two halves - one taut and fast-paced, and the other letting go and grinding to a slowdown. Reminded yours truly of playing football as a high schooler, versus now. Bad jokes apart, No Time To Die overstays its welcome by about 30 full minutes, and becomes progressively more unwatchable as it nears its conclusion.
Daniel Craig does everything you expect of him, and one - he is not afraid to show his age and let other, younger co-stars take charge. Not that this means his musculature or his magnetism have diminished in the slightest, mind you. Craig's Bond is as capable of showing heartfelt emotion as he is at beating baddies. Speaking of the latter, his caper in Cuba is as refreshing as a mojito, and his dance with Paloma (Ana de Armas) is easily the high point of the movie.
Léa Seydoux reprises her role from Spectre as Madeleine Swann, with the same issue - her chemistry, or lack thereof, with Craig. While Seydoux is a fine actress on her own merits, 15 minutes of Paloma are more enjoyable than anything Madeleine can offer.
Rami Malek as Lyutsifer is unbearable, a far departure from his usual performances. It's hard to pin anything down on the actor as the script gives him precious little to work with, but ultimately it is Malek's character that drags the movie down.
Lashana Lynch as Nomi does a decent job, but her performance does not make you wait with bated breath for the next film in the Bond franchise. I don't care about Bond being a guy or being white - but Nomi doesn't appear to me as a particularly intriguing character. Will be interesting to see what the future holds.
This reviewer humbly wants to be done before the review starts to drag, unlike the film that is being reviewed. That's all, folks!