“No Time To Die” was a dull good-bye for its leading man


©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collectio


Kevin Nguyen, Features Editor

There is a line of thinking that it’s generally better to leave a party early, than overstay one’s welcome. Someone should have told this to James Bond. 

Should anyone care to see off an actor who openly admitted that he’d rather die than play the character ever again, the ironically named “No Time To Die” is now in theaters after a yearlong postponement due to the pandemic. 

When Daniel Craig stepped into the titular role, he had, despite all of the skepticism, revived a tired brand. His portrayal in “Casino Royale,” which debuted in 2006, ushered in a more nuanced, edgier Bond, whose motivations were rooted in tragedy and mistrust of authority, all of which were wrapped inside a complicated world where boundaries between good and evil were often blurred. 

The first three movies he starred in as Ian Fleming’s acclaimed character felt original and their stories fit the times in which they took place, where Western countries were grappling with the evolving threat of terrorism and economic collapse threatened the globe. 

Fifteen years and five movies later, the trailblazing breakthroughs his character made are now hollow shells. 

The movie’s events take place five years after “Spectre,” which saw our protagonist finally vanquish the shadowy criminal organization that had orchestrated so much of his aforementioned pain. Only it should have ended there. This time, when the next supposedly more dangerous group of villains force Bond out of retirement, it just feels like we’ve done this dance before, except that was in “Skyfall.” 

In the cruelest twist of irony and bit of unfortunate timing, the threat that this new Bond villain is looking to unleash on the world is, get this, a bio-weapon that will bring about a pandemic. If one were looking to the silver screen for escape, this film will bludgeon them back into grim reality.

At least blockbusters like this never fail in transporting viewers to destinations around the globe for stunning set pieces and action sequences. In “No Time To Die,” viewers are treated to the escapades of Bond & Co. as they weave through Italy, Norway, Jamaica, Cuba and of course, London. One can always critique the contrived plot, but the millions of dollars spent shooting on-location are always the best parts of these films, this one included. 

For experienced viewers of Bond films, the patterns of this movie feel similar, albeit with some slight modifications in order to frame this story as Craig’s final goodbye. One of those changes is that main characters from “Spectre” return to help close out plot threads that were, in the Bond tradition, already done.

In doing so, “No Time to Die” strains to manufacture any real tension or stakes, whereas its predecessors gradually built up equity that paid off. 

As for the Bond newcomers, it’s telling that Ana De Armas’s limited role shone brighter than that of Rami Malek’s, who is supposed to be the main antagonist. Efforts to usher in more diversity and energy through Lashana Lynch, who plays a new-age Double 00 agent, are also quickly overshadowed by Craig after some initial excitement.

With a run time of 163 minutes, the film is a slog to sit through. It’s screenplay feels messy and the scenes can often feel like they are meant for the product placement of luxury clothing rather 

than advancing any coherent motivations or plot. 

Five movies later, the Bond franchise feels about as stale and empty as when Craig had inherited it. He knew that coming in but returned anyway. Audiences should consider the same before buying a ticket. 

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars