No Time to Die is a horrid, endless chore using illusion technology to look like a movie. Its villain ─ clothed in only the finest suits from the Steven Segal collection ─ is so comically unwatchable he’s all but completely edited out of the film. His name is Lyutsifer Safin. It’s pronounced “Lucifer,” and his last name is practically “Satan.” Get it? Because he’s evil. The only reason this isn’t the most embarrassing thing Rami Malek has ever done is because he won an Oscar for a Bryan Singer movie.
No Time to Die is a hot dog made from the pig anuses passed over by other Bond movies. But things don’t start off terribly! Director Cary Joji Fukunaga delivers an opening sequence that feels more like a claustrophobic, snowy cabin slasher film. Fun! The flashback gives way to an Italian vacay for Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) that descends into a betrayal that hinges entirely on Madeleine repeatedly saying that she has to tell Bond something instead of actually telling him that thing. Not fun!
Cut to some years later: Bond is an island-dwelling alcohol sponge. Her Majesty even gave away his special spy locker number, 007, to Nomi (Lashana Lynch), the most interesting character in the film despite her sincerely saying this line of dialogue: “Do you know what time it is? Time to die!” One of the four credited writers on this is Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She almost certainly had nothing to do with that line, but it’s fun to think she put it in there just to tweak the nips of the Bond enthusiasts who take this shit seriously.
The problem is, everything else is so, so, so serious. Watching James Bond repeatedly weep is so flagrantly disingenuous given the context and breadth of the character. Skyfall was masterful for the way in which it believably deconstructed and humanized the character, but No Time to Die feels like a gross attempt to procure unearned emotional responses. Not that James Bond has any previous recorded experience with forcibly soliciting things that aren’t consensually offered.
The plot Macguffin is a nano-virus thing but then also an island made out of poison or something? Look, if you can remember what happens in all nearly three hours of this joyless slog, your recognition and retention are above superspy levels. Storylines are Frankensteined together; rotting, fetid flesh stitched by a great theme song and Craig’s baby blues. Ana de Armas’s scene is kinda fun? The opening credits featured guns shooting bullets that weave into DNA, which is what America’s blood looks like under a microscope. That’s cool, right?
Craig’s Bond tenure can be reduced to the near-perfect Skyfall, the serviceable modern resurrection that was Casino Royale, and then things that fall under an umbrella of nonsense, like the very phrase Quantum of Solace. It’s not quite clear how the exceptional Fukunaga, the genius Waller-Bridge, and the somehow-still-underrated-as-an-actor Craig got together to do…this… All that is clear, is that it is the last time any of them will be doing it.
Grade = D
Other Critical Voices to Consider
Rosalynn Try-Hane at Liquid Marmalade (great name there) says “I was left neither shaken nor stirred but rather perplexed.”
Kelechi Ehenulo at Confessions From a Geek Mind says “Only Doctor Who – another franchise with 50+ years of history under its belt, can stand shoulder to shoulder with Bond on the pressures of longevity. But it’s evident in the process how characters can change, evolve and step outside of the formula.”
Yasser Medina at Cinemaficionados says “before Craig, 007’s spies were built from the same plastic material as action figures.” [Full review in Spanish]