No Time To Die: The BRWC Review. By Alif Majeed.
“Welcome, Mr. Bond. We were expecting you.” That may be a line that many a Bond villain has used, but it somehow takes greater significance here as we finally get to see No Time to Die after several delays.
Cary Fukunaga thankfully makes a movie that completes the story and takes it to a fitting end, which leaves you emotional and like saying adios to an old friend even though the ride might get pretty bumpy.
The Bond movies were always known for their escapism, as it is not that hard to get caught in the spy fantasy that the James Bond universe presents. Hell, the movie even predates the Jaws blockbuster era, and THE definitive big-screen blockbuster waited for with eager anticipation.
So when No Time to Die comes a full six years after Spectre, it somehow feels more… real. It’s not like it is avoiding its escapist roots. Bond here can still pull some suave moves even between the intense action. (in a move that made me want to hoot, he smoothly pours himself a drink and between shooting down a bunch of bad guys.) But the whole movie somehow has a sense of foreboding inevitability running through the course of the film.
That this is the end is written all over right from the beginning. But there is this constant dilemma here to create a full-blown Bond movie while throwing as much as possible at him. He has too much at stake this time around that he almost gets buried under all that gravitas and it gets tiring on occasions. A terrific flashback opening scene marks all this while looks like it is coming straight out of a slasher movie while involves Madeleine Swann and Safin (Rami Malek). We then have Bond with Madeline, in Italy, to get some closure with Vesper. It escalates into an exhilarating scene with Spectre agents chasing them, before the credits begin.
It is a crucial scene as it reaffirms Bond’s inability to trust people and how easy it is for him to be taken in by what he sees in front of him. The movie then comes dangerously close to being a routine spy thriller story with a typical bionic weapon plot to take down the world (even the infamous smart blood makes a return). But there is enough action and bonafide thrills to satisfy the Bond fans as he is ably supported by many returning friends and foes.
The cast of the movie is also a very decisive factor here. Jeffrey Wright makes a welcome return as Felix Leiter, and the sense of brotherhood between the Bond and him feels earned. Lea Seydoux, as Madeline, is another character who gets an arc as the movie begins with her story. Despite her character’s journey from Spectre, she still hasn’t forgotten to use a gun, which often happens with the Bond girls, and gets to shine well. I had a problem with Lashana Lynch’s Nomi, or the portrayal of the character. She is a 00 in the movie, and it is a welcome change and she clearly is having fun with the role. But despite all the nods and acknowledgment, she still comes across as another Bond girl in the Wai Lin and Jinx mode. There are a couple of instances where she also comes across as not so competent. In typical movie cop mode, she even arrives in an important scene after the action and drama are over. We can make no such complaint for Ana de Armas, who portrays Paloma, a spy Bond meets up in Cuba. She is a brilliant highlight of the movie in full Quicksilver from X-Men mode that you wish they had expanded her role.
But the biggest failing of the movie is also the one that arguably matters the most, its villain. Rami Malek is terrifying in that opening scene, where he comes across as a true monster. But none of that horror ever comes out later as he becomes a man with some scars with a megalomaniac plot to destroy the world. A missed opportunity to give a fitting adversary on Craig’s last outing as Bond.
There would be many with a lump in their throat as the movie ends as 15 years and five films later, it is sad saying goodbye. (My friend was raving and ranting for a full 20 minutes after the movie). But what we can be sure of is that No Time to Die is a fitting and epic conclusion to the Craig era. He is a guy who more or less made the role his own and deserved a chance to finish his arc.
There might be many inevitable changes and shifts for the James Bond movies in the future, but Daniel Craig got to go out with a bang, just as he deserved, right up there on the big screen.
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