Review: No Time To Die | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, May 24th, 2024  

No Time to Die

Studio: MGM
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Oct 06, 2021 Web Exclusive
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After a-year-and-a-half of postponements, No Time to Die, the long-awaited film in the James Bond franchise is here. Bond fans can count on patented 007 action-packed sequences kicking off the film, making it worth the numerous delays. The excitement begins to unravel, however, as the film increasingly overcooks its underwhelming drama.

The story begins soon after the events of 2015’s Spectre. After stopping the villain organization Spectre, British spy James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on vacation with his girlfriend Madeline (Lea Séydoux) in a small Italian village. Things don’t stay peaceful for long. Bond is attacked by Spectre again, leading to an enthralling motorcycle chase through the tight-knit avenues of the village. During this chase, he learns new information about Madeline, forcing him to part ways with her.

After the film’s opening credits sequence, the story jumps five years ahead to a MI6 without Bond, who is living off-the-grid in Jamaica. He is tapped by the CIA to rescue Dr. Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik), a scientist who is being coerced by the film’s villain, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), to create a bioweapon. This situation draws Bond into a maze of different missions, all with the common goal of stopping Safin’s plan before it is too late.
While pursuing his goal, Bond also meets and teams up with a host of new and returning characters. Notable entrants to the story include Paloma (Ana de Armas), a CIA agent who helps Bond retrieve Dr. Obruchev, and Nomi (Lashana Lynch), a new super-skilled double-0 agent who assists and banters with Bond.

No Time To Die is split in two. The first half is reminiscent of other Bond films. The plot is less complex, mainly following Bond in his rescue attempts. The action is loud car chases, club shootouts and one-on-one hand combat fights. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s (Netflix’s Maniac) deft staging of the action sequences is absolutely incredible. These scenes have intensity without feeling like they’re trying too hard to impress, a feat the Bond franchise has mastered throughout the years.

The second half, which is focused on Bond’s attempts to stop the bioterrorism attempt, is big-budget and franchise-driven. The action sequences are grander, relying on bigger set pieces, rapid pacing and quick editing to sell the excitement. While this transition makes sense, especially in maintaining the high-stakes action, it misunderstands what makes Bond so fun to watch. Bond has always been the character who saves the world in the suavest, most nonchalant way possible. When all the focus is drawn to making his missions bigger and louder, both his character and the film feel empty and lifeless.

No Time To Die’s disappointing second half is also attributable to the film’s weak villain. While the film opens with a little bit of Safin’s backstory to make his motivations clear, both his character and Malek’s portrayal of him feel half-baked. Bond’s previous villain battles have felt much more heightened, particularly in Spectre where he battled an entire organization. Even with all of his evil intentions, Safin isn’t explored enough or threatening enough to be convincing.

From the start, it is obvious that No Time to Die is the end of this James Bond era. Craig has been candid about this being his final film playing the British spy. This creates a lot of bittersweet tension in the film and is most evident in how the film constantly humanizes Bond’s character. This is a noticeable difference compared to some of the earlier Bond films, but is a characteristic of the five Craig films. The added emotional front works as it gives him purpose and clear motivation. In the case of No Time to Die, the emotion component complicates the plot with another dimension to a film that already suffers from trying to balance too much.

As always, Craig delivers an incredible performance, the perfect swan song for the character he has become so connected to over the years. Even when the film isn’t entirely working, his nuanced multi-faceted approach to Bond always shines through. The film’s ensemble also works tremendously together, delivering a great balance of humor, drama and emotion. (

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 2/10


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