Review: ‘No Time to Die’ ends Daniel Craig’s James Bond run with a stirring if flawed effort

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James Bond The movies are famous for guns and gadgets, cocktails and cocksure heroes.

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But recently the flood of starring films Daniel Craig Granted man the license to unite heart and mind. And while the last bow of the actor “No Time To Die” It has its issues, the latest action adventure placing the exploding cherry nicely on top of an evolutionary period in the cinematic life of the British superspy.

Wrapping up a five-film mini-saga that began with 2006’s “Casino Royale,” director Cary Joji Fukunaga (the first American to helm a Bond film) ventures where no one has known in the franchise’s 25-film history. Don’t dare – and it’s just not giving the 007 handle to anyone else.

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In “No Time To Die” (★★★ out of four; rated PG-13; in theaters now), Craig’s secret agent wrestles with mortality and finds himself on the opposite side of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, among familiar aspects loved by fans. The finds: anti-death situations, ridiculously cool cars, globetrotting scenes and, of course, a random European observer threatening the world.

The new film starts from where the last – 2015’s faded”the dark shadow“- left, with Bond and his main squeeze, Austrian psychologist Madeleine Swann (Lee Seydoux), zooming around in a Aston Martin D85. On an Italian getaway, 007 visits the grave of a late love, and a bomb detonates. Bond escapes but is pursued by goons of the evil organization SPECTER, causing him to question his faith in Madeleine and forcing an unfortunate separation.

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Five years later, Bond retired and is living well in Jamaica. He is found by an old CIA friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who seeks his help in tracking down a kidnapped Russian scientist and a high-tech bioweapon used to target people via his DNA. Is. Bond’s old friend at MI6 has moved on with a new 007 named Nomi (Lashana Lynch), he has an initially awkward reunion with Madeleine and when he’s back in full suit-bedecked action, she’s stunned. The incarcerated SPECTER is forced to play the mind game (again). Boss Blofeld (Christoph Waltz)

But Bond learns that the main villain, this time around, is a mysterious figure named Safin (Rami Malek), who has links to Swan, a sweet island lair and a vengeful agenda.

Nomi (Lashana Lynch) MI6's new 007 inch .  Is

At 2 hours 43 minutes “No Time to Die” is the longest Bond film ever, and you feel it in the emotionally satisfying finale that takes forever. Zip in at least the first half with the best scenes in the movie: In the Beginninghandjob An Italian vehicle chase is classic Bond, and a spectacular Havana scene teams Bond with rookie CIA agent Paloma. played by a delightful Ana de Armas, who continues her great “knives out” Chemistry with Craig, she’s a breath of fresh franchise air, side-kicking dudes in a high-slit dress.

Lynch’s character doesn’t quite live up to her potential: Nomi initially grows strong as a charming, charming presence, but by the climax she’s a non-factor. And Malek’s Safin, a peculiarly pronounced megalomaniac that lacks bite, can’t measure up to 007’s deep bench of uber-bad guys. On the other hand, Dali Bensla’s one-eyed primo oddjob and Jaws are a pleasant henchman in the mold.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) is reunited with his love, Dr. Madeleine Swan (Lee Seydoux) in "No Time to Die".

While the film goes to some pretty dark places, there’s a lightness to “No Time to Die” that’s a welcome change in the Bond landscape — and it’s safe to assume we have co-writers. phoebe waller-bridge (“Killing Eve,” “Fleabag”) to thank for that. The dialogue is never Roger Moore-era goofy (though the over-the-top plot is another story). Yet there is a lab workplace with unexpected, energetic leverage “armed smallpox” and an adversary saying, “I was a big fan of that!” After trying to blow up Bond.

“No Time To Die” never quite reaches the heights of “Skyfall” or “Casino Royale,” though it certainly does better than the low point of Craig’s run. (Sorry, “Quantum of Solace.”) But the English actor’s final run as 007 is one of his best, giving the iconic role gravitas, humor, and most importantly, soul. Amidst the seriously high stakes, Craig lets you root for Bond in a swan song that sounds like never before, if not shaken.

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