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Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
No Time To Die

Title: No Time To Die

Describe This Movie Using One Simpsons Quote:
HANK SCORPIO: Homer, on your way out if you want to kill somebody, you would help me a lot.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Misogynistic dinosaur kills lots of people in the furtherance of colonialism.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3 smokin' Che Guevaras out of 5.
Tagline: "Bond is back."

Better Tagline: "Three Hours To Die is more like it."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: James Bond, 007 (Daniel Craig) is enjoying retirement in Jamaica when old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Jones) drops in with unexpected news: SPECTRE is alive and well and up to no good in Cuba. Before you can say, "Shaken, not stirred" Bond is back at it, running up against new 007 Nomi (Latasha Lynch) and old nemesis Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) in the process. And what's this? Why, Bond's old flame Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) is back with a few surprises of her own.
"Critical" Analysis: Without getting into details, it's safe to say No Time To Die, the final movie of Daniel Craig's run as 007, is going to be a topic of ... spirited discussion well after it's left theaters.

It's been a long 15 years, with almost half of that taken up with waiting between Craig's penultimate film and this. We have a pandemic to thank for part of that, but don't discount the cooling-off period needed after Spectre, widely regarded as the weakest entry in the Craig run.

Oh shut up. There are plenty of us Quantum of Solace fans. Dozens, even.

Because when you got right down to it, Spectre suffered from the same conundrum as Skyfall before it: why not finish things there? Both movies had endings that would have served as fitting conclusions, even after the former pointlessly introduced the titular supercriminal enterprise. In Skyfall, the changing of the guard to a new M offered the chance at a clean break, while Spectre literally ended with Bond driving off into sunset (such a thing presumably exists in the current version of Britannia) with Madeleine.

No Time To Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, weakly attempts a head fake with the "retired Bond" thing (the third retirement for Craig's 007, but who's counting?) before Leiter pulls him back in (welcome back, Jeffrey Wright). But the Cuba mission turns out to be a red herring itself, setting up the main villain plot while giving us a delightful 10-15 minutes of Ana de Armas kicking ass.

The initial lack of a Big Bad is something of a problem, as Safin doesn't show up until roughly an hour(!) in. Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) does reappear, but has little to do. Worse, the "architect of all James Bond's pain" is himself one-upped by the new guy. Oh, and because this is Eon, Safin has to have a connection to Madeleine, herself the daughter of Mr. White.

It's honestly surprising he doesn't out and say, "We're not so different, you and I" to Bond at some point.

As Bond villains go, Safin checks off a lot of boxes: a scheme with globally catastrophic implications? An island hideout? A weird name ("Lyutsifer")? It's just too bad Malek manages to be even less menacing than Dominic Greene.

Still, after spending the better part of the last 18 months homebound, it's good to live vicariously through a globetrotting Bond. Fukunaga coyly doesn't label any of the locations, instead offering context clues ranging from obvious (reggae music) to fleeting (a satellite map of Norway). Whatever, we just want scenery, and the director and cinematographer Linus Sandgren deliver.

And like Mendes before him, Fukunaga also throws in his own share of classic 007 callbacks, from the Thunderball raft to Louis Armstrong's "All the Time in the World" (the theme song from On Her Majesty's Secret Service). Appreciated by the die-hards, but also playing into the now perennial criticism that James Bond may have finally lost his relevance.

As for Craig, he's definitely having more fun this time around. Part of that can be chalked up to the influence of writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge (he has several lines that wouldn't be out of place in Fleabag). He's clearly having a lot of fun, and is abetted by the usual Scooby Gang of M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and Q (Ben Whishaw). And as the new 007, Lynch is a breath of exasperated fresh air.

No Time To Die captures the best (stellar action, lush location shooting, inspired performances) and worst (mediocre villains, nonsensical schemes, overemphasis on nostalgia) of the Craig era. In that — as well as the bloated running time — it's a fitting send-off.

Rank The Daniel Craig Bonds:
1. Casino Royale
2. Skyfall
3. Quantum of Solace
4. No Time To Die
5. Spectre

Rank the Daniel Craig Bond Theme Songs:

1. "You Know My Name" - Chris Cornell
2. "Skyfall" - Adele
3. "No Time to Die" - Billie Eilish
4. "Another Way to Die" - Jack White and Alicia Keys
5. "Writing's on the Wall" - Sam Smith

Who'll Be The Next Bond?

Who the hell knows? Discussion right now seems focused on Bridgerton guy and Venom guy. Wire guy is probably too old, but don't count out Outlander guy.

No Time To Die is in theaters today.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar