In the (very, very long) pre-credits sequence of NO TIME TO DIE, Daniel Craig's James Bond visits the grave of Vesper Lynd. It occurred to me while watching this that Craig has been mooning over Lynd's death for most of his time as 007. The Craig-Bond films are all basically one large story, and NO TIME TO DIE is the summation of this era.
This time around, Bond is up against a villain named Safin (Rami Malek), who has a link to 007's other great love, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux), who was the daughter of Mr. White, the man who was mainly responsible for Vesper Lynd's death, and Mr. White used to work for Spectre and Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), and Safin wants to get revenge on Blofeld.....yes, it's all connected.
Like SKYFALL and SPECTRE, this is a long, lumbering movie that is impressive technically and visually, but doesn't seem to hit the mark. There's plenty of complications thrown in the plot that do nothing but increase the film's running time. There's also two different female agents (Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas) who look like supermodels and kill a bunch of people.
The villain's plot concerns biological warfare, which is rather timely....but Rami Malek makes the mistake of being weird instead of threatening, a mistake that has happened too many times in Bond films.
I know I'm constantly harping on movie running times, but the climax is very drawn out here, and it doesn't help that co-writer-director Cory Joji Fukunaga is more keen on heavy dramatics than energy. Daniel Craig's Bond has gone through a lot of suffering during his tenure--and he goes through even more here. But is that something you want to see when you go to a Bond film??
I did like the various references to ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, even though they give you a hint and a half about what's going to happen in the end.
If you are a fan of the other Craig-Bond movies, and you like the way Craig portrays 007, you'll appreciate NO TIME TO DIE more than I did. I loved CASINO ROYALE, and I still do. But having all the Craig-Bond films be direct sequels, instead of entries in a series, was, in my opinion, a bad idea.
When I wrote a blog post for SPECTRE, I said that I would love to see a film where Daniel Craig is Just Plain Bond--where he's on a mission that isn't connected to anything that happened before, and there's nothing in it that is linked to his personal life. Unfortunately we won't see that now. And there's plenty of folks who think there's no point in making any more Bond movies period.
Personally, I believe a "James Bond redefined for the 21st Century" isn't really James Bond at all. What I would love to see is all the Fleming novels adapted as they were written, in the order and the time period in which they were written.
And we all know that will never happen.
ASIDE #1: At the screening of NO TIME TO DIE I attended, I'd say the theater was about half-full....and I was one of the youngest people there. And I ain't no spring chicken. Make of that what you will.
ASIDE #2: I thought NO TIME TO DIE was a rather generic title for a Bond film. But I inadvertently found out the title does have a connection to the Bond series.
In 1958, Albert Broccoli (who would later co-produce the first official Bond films with Harry Saltzman) produced a WWII picture called NO TIME TO DIE! (It's also known as TANK FORCE!)
But it's still a generic title.