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Sunday, October 10, 2021

No Time To Die



You Have All The Time In The World

The final act is often the hardest to get right but director Cary Joji Fukunaga's urgent and stunning No Time To Die gets it so right. No Time To Die is the fifth and final movie starring Daniel Craig as James Bond and while I have an overwhelming love for and devotion to Skyfall, No Time To Die outdoes it by delivering something 007 has never truly had: a definitive ending. But en route to that end - Bond's end - is one more globe-hopping adventure - Matera, Italy, Jamaica, Santiago, Cuba, London, Norway, and a mysterious island between Japan and Russia - where Bond saves the world from the 21st-century threat of deadly nanobots. More importantly, James Bond faces the scope of his dangerous life as a Double-0 agent and finally confronts both his own mortality and the chance to leave something (and someone) behind.

Daniel Craig has never been better as James Bond. Well-aware that his and the audience's hearts weren't in Spectre, Craig does not waste this opportunity to go out with a kiss-kiss bang-bang. In No Time To Die, Bond is the happiest he's ever been on holiday with Dr. Madeleine Swann (a fantastic Lea Seydoux) when he's ambushed by Spectre agents sent by his old enemy (and ex-brother, adoptive), Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). Bond believes Madeleine betrayed him and he's heartbroken. (Although as Blofeld later taunts James, "You were always so sensitive!") Using his indomitable Aston Martin DB5, Bond annihilates the Spectre agents, puts Madeleine on a train, and tells her she'll never see him again. And he meant it. For at least the third time in Daniel Craig's quintology, Bond quits MI6 and he means it.

Retired in Jamaica five years later, Bond is now a man with unlimited time to kill but at least no one is trying to kill him, for once. Until James' old spy buddy Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) comes calling. Felix temps Bond back into action but James meeting M's (Ralph Feinnes) efficient new 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch) also had something to do with it. From there, No Time To Die puts its foot on the accelerator and takes us on a two-hour thrill ride. Bond walks into a trap in Cuba alongside Paloma (Ana de Armas), the most cheerfully gorgeous Bond Girl of Craig's 007 era. Ana de Armas is so good at drinking, quipping, and fighting alongside James, we wish she stayed for the whole movie. But the mystery of who's working against both James Bond and Spectre, which led to a trap for Bond turning into the massacre of every Spectre agent, leads right back to Ernst Stavro Blofeld. But the real key to this mystery is Madeleine Swann.

In the film's brilliant opening flashback, young Madeleine was attacked by No Time To Die's new twisted villain, Safin (Rami Malek). Safin's family was wiped out by Madeleine's father, Mr. White (Jesper Christensen), on Blofeld's orders and Safin came to White's Norway home looking for revenge. After killing Madeleine's mother, Safin becomes infatuated by the young girl and he saves her from drowning in ice (an echo of Bond nearly drowning in ice during Skyfall's climax). Decades later, Safin is back to finish the job he started and use Madeleine to kill Blofeld with his bioweapon that only works on a specific target's DNA. But Madeleine has another secret Bond discovers: they have a four-year-old daughter named Mathilde (Lisa-Dorah Sonnet). At first, Madeleine lies that James isn't the father of the blue-eyed girl, but he is and he knows it. Mathilde, James Bond's first offspring in any movie, is a bombshell that sets No Time To Die apart from every Bond movie and enables the movie's incredible ending.

No Time To Die's finale, like everything that builds up to it, is absolutely spectacular. Bond and Nomi team up to assault Safin's secret island base, where the madman plans to wipe out entire demographics of people with nanobots, and to save the kidnapped Madeleine and Mathilde. The action is visceral and first-rate as 007 fights his way through scores of soldiers in order to open the blast doors so that missiles can wipe out the island. But Bond is injured by Safin and, worse, he's infected with nanobots targeted to Mathilde and Madeleine's DNA. Even if he got off the island, touching either the woman he loves or his daughter would kill them both. And thus, James Bond makes the ultimate sacrifice, one that feels unthinkable from any of his predecessors from Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan - Bond willingly dies so that Madeleine and Mathilde can live. Daniel Craig's storied and incredibly successful run as James Bond explosively ends as 007 gives up his life to ensure his daughter can have hers.

A courageous and majestic James Bond story like no other, No Time To Die not only wraps up the serialized story about Daniel Craig's 007 that began with Casino Royale, it also gracefully genuflects to the greater franchise, with special reverence paid to On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Bond repeats the ominous promise, "We have all the time in the world" to Madeleine as Hans Zimmer's score evokes John Barry's booming On Her Majesty's Secret Service theme and weaves in Louis Armstrong's "We Have All The Time In The World." As missiles are about to rain down upon him, James Bond promises Madeleine that "You have all the time in the world." This is Bond's most important promise of all and one he means to keep. With this incredible final chapter where everything feels earned and definitive, Cary Joji Fukunaga and Daniel Craig give 007 a legacy he never had before and close out the Craig Era of James Bond with an unforgettably poignant and emotional ending.