No Time to Die leaves the Bond fanbase unsatisfied

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Shreya Jagannathan

Highly delayed and anticipated “No Time To Die” releases on Oct. 8, 2021 in the United States.

Shreya Jagannathan, Staff Writer

Warning: some plot and character spoilers alluded to.

Daniel Craig’s fifth and final movie as James Bond, No Time To Die, disappoints in comparison to Spectre (Craig’s fourth movie as Bond), with an attempt at reconstructing the James Bond character. On Oct. 8, 2021, the two hour and 43 minute movie premiered in cinemas all around the United States. Since it concludes Daniel Craig’s journey as Bond, No Time to Die was highly anticipated for months and was quickly sold out in theaters. Even though the plot contained a sufficient amount of action, as expected of a Bond movie, as well as astonishing European landscapes, what really brought the standards low was the unimaginative plot and the director’s attempt at humanizing James Bond which took away the essence of James Bond itself.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is the world-renowned secret double agent also known as 007 (pronounced double-O-seven) that always escapes death. Since James Bond first hit the big screens in 1963, multiple actors have played this immortal superspy. Since 2007, Craig has given us five movies playing the recurring role, with his most recent and final one being No Time to Die.

No Time To Die begins with a flashback of a young girl and her mom in a small cabin-like house in France. Moments later, a terrifying gunman invades their home claiming her father, Mr.White, killed the rest of his family. The young girl narrowly escapes from the gunman’s grasp. This backstory sets up the generic and common plot of revenge for the rest of the film.

Less than two minutes later, we learn that the fleeing young girl grows up to be Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), Bond’s love interest. In Spectre (2015) almost all these characters would be familiar. Without a prior understanding of the Bond Universe, it will be confusing to keep up with characters and their stories. It’s like watching Endgame without watching other Marvel movies first.

A pleasant surprise in the early part of the film is Billie Eilish serving all viewers with her song “No Time To Die”. Her voice matched the tone of James Bond perfectly. She is now the youngest singer to perform an original James Bond song in a movie. The song choices and artists are very particular to the 007 legacy’s dreary and ominous tone, such as Adele with her “Skyfall” for Skyfall (2012). Eilish delivered with a subtle tone that echoed with a sense of sadness that seemingly represents Craig’s final outing playing Bond.

Even though the acting has been phenomenal from the beginning of his movies, this film shows that without a proper imaginative plot and character arc, even award-winning Daniel Craig can’t deliver a satisfying performance.”

After the flashback, the storyline picks up right from where Spectre left off. Bond enjoys his time with Madeleine, in a small town in Italy. The importance of these seven minutes is this caring, somewhat sensitive side of Bond that we have never seen in the past. The peacefulness doesn’t last for very long though, as Bond finds himself in a high-speed chase and shootout, which then after he immediately ends his romance with Madeleine. He questions her loyalty to him since no one else knows his exact location,and in an impulsive reaction, he puts Madeleine on a train in hopes of never having to see her again.

The movie then fast forward to five years later where Bond is living in Jamaica in retirement. The five years of peace without his spy work seems to have taught him to be in tune with himself, but to never let his guard down. But he soon finds himself in contact with the C.I.A again and goes back to his work.

If there’s one thing director Cary Joji Fukanaga delivered expertly, it was bringing Ana de Armas to appear as a CIA operative named Paloma. She appears for a grand total of 15 minutes on screen playing Bond’s partner, but it was easily the most engaging 15 minutes of the entire movie. Her talking a mile a minute mixed with Bond’s intense but calm personality presented itself in a thrilling and humorous sequence that revives the escapist Bond. The well planned stunt sequences in formal length gowns and suits coordinated with comical dialogues left the audience with laughs while being in awe.

The masked man, played by Rami Malek, has intentions to release a virus worldwide with a powerful biotech weapon, which pulls Bond back into the battlefield. The events that take place during Bonds’ mission intertwine with Madeleine, which suddenly changes the course of Bond’s goals and values. Before it was about always completing the mission— emotion never impacted his decisions— but seeing Madeleine revives his feelings for her. Now it was about protecting Madeleine. It seems like a writer’s attempt at character development, by incorporating a range of emotions but unintentionally takes away from the cunning and calculating James Bond we know. 

Even with Bond’s usual amount of cynical, witty comebacks and comments, by the end, the James Bond character loses its unique appeal. Besides the extreme success in the marketing of the Bond Universe franchise, one of the most iconic traits of the Bond Universe is Bond’s diabolically independent attitude. 

With the sudden addition of flowing emotion, one might argue that his character development adds a variety of heartwarming feelings to the film. But what differentiates James Bond from every other hero isn’t just the high-tech weapons and intense chases but an overly intelligent, cocky, classy secret agent who simply just cannot die. Without it, James Bond is just like every other superhero character known to film and books.

Even though the acting has been phenomenal from the beginning of his movies, this film shows that without a proper imaginative plot and character arc, even award-winning Daniel Craig can’t deliver a satisfying performance. Craig deserves some fanfare for his outstanding performance over the years as Bond, but No Time To Die fell short of the usual level of magnificence and satisfaction the audience receives.

So is this movie worth the time? It’s very long and time-consuming and proves to have the weakest plotline in comparison to any of the James Bond movies so far. So it wasn’t worth the time, but to those avid James Bond watchers, this film would be more appealing than it was to me. This film proved not to be the dullest film ever of the Bond franchise, but the weakest one in recent years. 

The directors took a risk to recreate Bond’s intricately constructed persona, and it ultimately took the franchise in a different direction, building on emotional redemption and taking away from the extravagant life of James Bond. 

No Time To Die killed James Bond in more than one way.