October 16, 2021 – I have not much cared for the recent few movies in this long running spy film franchise, but this one seems to be a cut above them. “No Time to Die” is the 25th James Bond film in the series from Eon Productions, and it has the heart and humanity that seems to have been lacking lately in the series.
The thing I chiefly dislike about James Bond films in general is the casual disregard for life, heroes who are cold-blooded killers, the casual misogyny and jokes about murder. These traits are particularly evident in the Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig movies, but not so much in the Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan movies.
While there is a lot of killing in this film, the elements of love, loss and sacrifice are also much in evidence. In this film Daniel Craig is called upon to portray a wider range of emotions than is usual in this sort of film and he is up to the task.
In this film, we find a seemingly retired, and off-the-grid Bond in love with the mysterious Madeleine Swann (played by Léa Seydoux of “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol”) who says she won't disclose her secrets until Bond moves on from his past. To this end, Bond visits the tomb of his old flame, Vesper Lynd. He is attacked at the tomb by a whole army of assassins. He suspects that Madeleine Swann set him up for the ambush, and he leaves her.
Although he vows to leave her forever, he and Madeleine Swann are thrown together again by circumstances. A deadly biological weapon is stolen from a secret British laboratory by a man from Madeleine Swann's past (their relationship is shown in a flashback scene).
Swann and Bond also just happen to be connected to Bond's old enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played by Christoph Waltz of “Django Unchained”) of the criminal organization Spectre. Bond visits Blofeld in prison, seeking answers. It turns out there is an even more dangerous enemy than Spectre on the loose.
Bond comes out of retirement to go after the mysterious man behind a biological weapon that can kill whole races of people, and who plans to use it. The villain is the usual megalomaniac who threatens to kill millions, has a secret base and he has plenty of minions to do his bidding.
As usual, Bond doesn't have much help when it comes to saving the world, but he does have the aid of a capable British agent with a license to kill, the new 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch of “Captain Marvel”) along with the British Navy. He also gets a little help from old friend Felix Leiter of the CIA (played by Jeffrey Wright, reprising his role) and another CIA operative, Paloma (Ana de Armas of “Blade Runner 2049”).
While the motivations, or at least the back stories, of some of the characters are less than clear, the story works well enough for an action film with a lot more heart and soul than is usual in this series. Kudos to the actors and director Cary Joji Fukunaga of “Beasts of No Nation” for making one of the better Bonds of recent years. This movie rates a B.
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