By Ryan Huynh, Oct. 19, 2021
When thinking of James Bond, one might think of the classic Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan iterations of the character: the undefeatable, suave, superspy all men wish they could be. Daniel Craig’s James Bond is a modernized take on the 20th century playboy, one who takes losses, can be beaten and one who cares for the people he is involved with.
In “No Time to Die” Cary Joji Fukunaga, director, is faced with the daunting task of wrapping up 15 years, and four movies worth, of a story made for Daniel Craig’s Bond, which in itself sounds like its own “Mission: Impossible” movie. Unlike J.J. Abrams and the “Star Wars” franchise, Fukunaga manages to tie up all loose ends in the series and deliver an almost three-hour epic finale that is worthy of the accolade of best Bond film.
“No Time to Die” is a shining example of how a modern action spy film should be made. It is stylistic, uses jaw dropping, yet practical, special effects and draws from a wealth of characters to advance the story and illuminate the protagonist.
One of the scenes which best demonstrates the film’s great special effects is when Bond and Swann are being chased in Matera, Italy and are encircled by the “bad guys.” Seeing no way out, and being shot at point-blank range, Bond does donuts in his famous Aston Martin DB5 while returning fire with miniguns built into the headlights.
Bond fans were happy to see the return of Lea Seydoux’s Swann, reprising her role from the previous film “Spectre.” She has been the first Bond girl to appear in more than one film since Sylvia Trench in “Dr. No” and “From Russia with Love,” the first and second Bond films. Her character is a strong example of the character development the writers bestowed on “No Time to Die,” with the exploration of depth and complex backstories.
While all of the characters in the film undergo satisfactory character development, Rami Malek’s Safin is arguably the weakest character in the movie. He duplicates a typical evil Bond villain whose only objective is world domination via an overly complicated plan he tells Bond right before trying to kill him. Safin’s development as a character was inconsistent at best, and stale at worst.
The length of the film gave the filmmakers time to fully immerse the audience into the world of Bond.
A combination of editing and a heavy focus on cinematic long shots that immerse the audience into gorgeously detailed locations is one of the reasons the film feels so long. The edits during the action sequences were minimal with very few cuts which focus on the action happening. Unlike other action films, the sequences do not cut to 50 different perspectives in the span of 20 seconds which often creates confusion for the audience.
“No Time to Die” is without a doubt a gorgeous movie, but it’s the underlying message of the movie which really empowers it within the 25-film franchise’s lore. The film shows us Bond is a relic of his time, and a newer cast is needed to move the franchise forward. The “No Time to Die” cast is the franchise’s most diverse and that’s one of the film’s key strengths. It shows anyone can be a spy, and being a spy is more than just being a good-looking white guy.
The film symbolizes Bond passing the torch to other characters who will continue the lineage of 007. “No Time to Die” has shown that a 007 and James Bond could coexist and thrive off one another. James Bond can be 007, but 007 doesn’t have to be James Bond.
Graphic courtesy of Justin Oo.
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