For six years, James Bond fans patiently waited. And when it was almost here, we had to wait another year, as the release date was delayed from April 2020 to October 2021. Last week, it finally arrived in all of its two hours and 43 minutes of glory: “No Time to Die.”
Having been a James Bond fan for as long as I can remember, I get quite peeved when people tell me they’ve never seen a James Bond movie. Ever. Of course, they know of him. Everyone does, and that is the power of the image of James Bond.
Over the summer, my roommate, Hanna Adamski ’24, told me that she was in fact one of those people. That night, of course, we watched “Casino Royale,” the first movie in Daniel Craig’s James Bond franchise. After watching Craig play a high-stakes poker game and meet his infamous love interest, Vesper, Adamski’s life was forever changed. And so, the James Bond marathon ensued — I would highly recommend a marathon, so that the plot of “No Time to Die” is easier to follow.
Flash forward to the start of the fall semester, when we bought our tickets for the Thursday opening night of “No Time to Die.” The night of, we were speechlessly ecstatic — especially after having watched the trailer that raised our expectations sky-high and listened to the soundtrack that wordlessly brought tears to our eyes.
Our expectations were not simply met, but instead so far exceeded that — dare I say — the movie surpassed “Skyfall” and even “Casino Royale” in its grandeur. Now, I know many people will disagree with this highly contestable statement, especially considering that “Casino Royale” changed the course of Bond history through its modernity and character development. However, my reasoning for this is simple: “No Time to Die” was a movie made for Bond fans.
Mia Rolland-Bezem ’24 explained this with the term “Bondisms,” describing the film as an “homage or tribute to the convention and the tradition.” There is a classic “shaken, not stirred line” and a scene where Bond pivots and shoots, like the classic gun barrel sequence at the start of each film. Though I loved the addition of these “Bondisms,” some of the gadgets felt a bit forced in their inclusion and use. Arya Nalluri ’24 voiced, “I felt like it was a good Bond movie: cheesy one-liners, good action, gadgets and all that. Everything you’d expect from a 007 film.” The way that Craig delivers his one-liners is absolutely iconic — just enough snark, humor, disgust and surprise, all wrapped into just a few words. These alone were enough to get me to love the movie.
And then there were the action sequences. Words are hardly even necessary to describe their sleekness and authenticity. I felt every impact and every ounce of Bond’s fear within me. As one of my friends succinctly said right outside the theater, “THE STAIR SCENE!” Bond, trying to reach the control room on a higher floor, climbs up the stairwell while fighting maybe 30 men and surviving a grenade. The camera follows Bond, making the audience feel that they are right behind him on those stairs, ducking at the sound of gunshots.
“No Time to Die” definitely does not shy away from intense action scenes. Over the years, it’s been a hobby of mine to rewatch Bond action sequences and imagine where else he could possibly fight, wearing that tailored suit that he pulls off so well. We’ve seen him fighting on a crane, in a tunnel, in a plane, in a helicopter, in a train and even on top of a train. Every movie I ask myself: How will they amp up the actions next time?
The ending scene of “Spectre” on a bridge clearly wasn’t enough; in this newest film, Bond swings off of a bridge like a trapezist. A quick boat ride in “Skyfall” wasn’t enough; Bond fights one of the villain’s agents in a sinking oil rig. “No Time to Die” takes no shortcuts in terms of action — probably resulting in the long run time of the movie. Nalluri mentioned that “the run time was a bit too long for my taste, especially with the pacing of the movie.” I, however, didn’t feel like the movie was a minute too long. I could’ve watched for hours longer, though that may have just been because I didn’t want Daniel Craig’s run to finally end. The time flew by. The fast-paced scenes kept me on the edge of my seat, but the slower ones grasped me by the heartstrings and kept me just as engaged.
And now, the characters. Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) were just as memorable as ever, becoming Bond’s true family by the end. Rolland-Bezem gushed, “The best banter and the best chemistry remained with Moneypenny, Q and Bond.” As in “Skyfall” and “Spectre,” Moneypenny and Q never failed to put themselves on the line, because of their complete trust in Bond as an agent and a moral compass.
The return of Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann was absolutely brilliant. She not only broke the stereotype of the classic Bond girl through her unwavering strength and ability to fight for herself and others, but also proved herself to be the right woman for Bond. Madeleine — as opposed to Vesper in “Casino Royale” — made Bond a better man and gave him what he thought he could never have.
The villain in “No Time to Die,” played by the wonderful Rami Malek, seems unfortunately to have been everyone’s least favorite aspect of the film. Nalluri argued that “the villain didn’t really have a clear motivation,” with which I completely agree. Though Malek portrayed the part excellently, the character itself was not entirely convincing in his reasons for wanting to control the world through a DNA weapon.
One of the most highly anticipated characters in “No Time to Die” was the new 007, Nomi, played by the gorgeous Lashana Lynch, as she was the first female portrayal of a 00 agent. Although I loved the boldness and impulsivity of her character — which cleverly mirrored Bond’s own rashness in “Casino Royale” — the movie didn’t spend enough time formulating a true relationship between her and Bond. In a way, the presence of her character felt a bit forced, even though it certainly contributed to the gripping plot. Rolland-Bezem added that the movie “felt a bit contrived in places, such as [in] the relationship with Nomi.”
And then comes the end, which was, in my opinion, the best part of the entire film in simply how moving it was. Though I won’t go into specifics for the sake of spoilers, the end was, without a doubt, epic, written for the fans and for the character of James Bond himself. It’s a conclusion that leaves the audience with a slight smile and a few tears, yet still wanting more. It is an ending that truly could not have had such an impact had it not been 15 years in the making. As Adamski poignantly stated, “I really enjoyed that everything came together in the end and that there was no sugar on top. The end was raw and honest and truly the end of a great era.”