There were some noticeable changes in this instalment of the Bond franchise; some I appreciated, others missed the target.
One appreciated modern update, also referenced by Cuban-born actress Ana de Armas in an interview with CNN, is the progression of “Bond girls” to “Bond women,” thus becoming equals to 007. Her portrayal of CIA agent Paloma was one of the comedic and fight-scene highlights in this film.
The signature 007 opening sequence started this on the right track. I did miss what normally follows the buildup of intense suspense and tension, where 007 ups the ante (key music, the 1962 “James Bond Theme”) and the adrenalized carnage that follows.
I also found the character and gadgets of Q (Quartermaster) to be underutilized and the new 00 agent to be underwhelming. On the other hand, Ralph Fiennes was stoic as M, the master of MI6.
Daniel Craig’s Bond was significantly subdued and emotional in comparison to his earlier films, particularly to his role as deliverer of vengeance in Quantum of Solace. Although initially disappointed in this character softening, in retrospect I acknowledge that even those licensed to kill can soften with age.
Rami Malek’s villain, Lyutsifer Safin, was somewhat creepy but fell short of inducing fear.
So where does No Time to Die rate in relation to the other Daniel Craig films in the employ of Her Majesty’s Secret Service? It does not reach the level of receiving a golden medal, gun, finger or eye. In fact, it falls just outside of the medals, in fourth place.
Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall were more compelling and better views, but I slightly preferred this to Spectre, including preferring Christoph Walz as Blofeld in this followup film role.
I toast Daniel Craig for the five films sharing his charm, athleticism and craft, ensuring the cinematic future of 007. Thank you, Mr. Bond. We are shaken and stirred.
No Time to Die scores 3.5 out of 5.