‘No Time to Die’ review: Daniel Craig bids farewell to 007 with slightly bloated Bond movie

One of the original theatrical victims of the pandemic, MGM delayed launch of Craig’s fifth and final outing for 18 months, putting 15 years between his “Casino Royale” debut and this chapter. While he hasn’t missed a step, his Bond editions have never matched that dazzling intro, and “No Time to Die” is no exception.

To its credit, this two-hour, 43-minute film (which makes the title a bit of a lie) assiduously builds on everything that recent Bond films have established, in a way that previous incarnations generally didn’t. . That has deepened the character, allowing Bond to experience pain, loss and love without hitting the reset button, despite the recurrence of the villain Blofeld.

Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (“The True Detective”), this Bond serves as a reminder of his grand narrative ambitions with perhaps the longest pre-credit sequence in memory, introducing the mysterious new villain (played by Rami Malek, seemingly 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) strive to lure him back on a mission involving a terrible biological weapon (maybe not may be the best time for that particular plot) and his old nemesis in Specter, bringing back Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and the now-incarcerated Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) from that 2015 film.

Bond also finds that his position at MI6 has been ably filled by a new agent (Lashana Lynch) who has inherited his 007 license. However, while Lynch makes a strong addition, his brawl jokes are relatively weak and just add up. to the abundance of moving parts that the even more complicated plot than usual has to serve.

An underlying theme is that the world has changed, certainly since the Cold War period in which the character was born, clouding alliances and making, as Leiter reflects, “difficult to distinguish between good and evil.” That measure of complexity, however, hasn’t improved a formula built on world-threatening villains and muscle action.

In terms of Bond basics, the film offers some impressive 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” feels like he’s working too hard to provide Craig with a goodbye worthy of all the hype associated with it, an overkill that could be simply summed up, finally, by taking too long to finish.

“No Time to Die” opens in theaters in the United States on October 8. It is classified as PG-13.

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