Spoilers. Bond spoilers.
Bond films are one of the most defining examples of genre films out there. You know the plot of almost every one of them. Certain elements have gone into the saga lately, mainly the element of Bond’s retirement just as Daniel Craig wraps up his time as 007. This coincides with subtle and not so subtle elements being introduced to update his character with the times. It’s still Bond, at least for now.
No Time To Die (2021) is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga who co-wrote the screenplay with Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. When we first meet him, James Bond (Daniel Craig) has retired and lives an idyllic life with Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), which we got introduced to first in the opening scene where she survives after witnessing her mother being murdered. When James and Madeleine are targeted by hitmen from Spectre, James suspects Madeleine has betrayed him and puts her on a train. Five years later, a CIA agent named Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) tries to convince James to come out of retirement and find a missing scientist secretly working for MI6.
Of course this will lead to the expected song and dance where James initially turns down the offer, just to accept it once Nomi (Lashana Lynch), the new 007, appears and warns him against getting involved. James will end traveling to Cuba to meet contact CIA agent Paloma (Ana de Armas). Nomi is a highly effective agent and may give James a run for his money but Paloma is a breath of fresh air amidst all the gritty characters in the cast. The CIA agent appears to be a nervous and insecure rookie, but she proves herself quite capable and resourceful for the brief time she appears.
Eventually James will have to reconcile with MI6 again as well as work with Nomi. He will have to talk his old nemesis Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), get reacquainted with Dr. Madeleine Swann and face down against the new dangerous foe, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). However, Safin’s plans which threaten the free world, yada, yada, take a backseat to the obvious question in everyone’s minds. When the smoke settles, who will get to be 007?
The movie has a lot of action and crazy fun Bond moments, but eventually it settles on an outcome that feels like a finale. A lot of it works. The ending is a bit of a rule breaker. I’m still on the fence on whether it’s really called for or not. Rami Malek plays quite a convincing villain. Léa Seydoux and Lashana Lynch have decent performance, but Ana de Armas’ character makes the most out of her screen time.
Recommended with reservations. I found it quite enjoyable and entertaining overall, although I’m not crazy about the finale. The best way to enjoy it is to focus on the main world-ending plot and not get distracted by the future of the franchise. After all, anything can be retconned for the next film. Worth a watch.
That will do for now.