James Bond is here again in “No Time to Die,” directed by Cary Fukunaga (“Jane Eyre,” “It”). Bond is mostly unflappable and tough as nails. Incarnated by Daniel Craig, he is icy and smooth moving through countries as swift as a shark. With a flick of the wrist, Bond is across the globe in mere seconds. Such is what we have come to expect from this detached and lean Bond.
Right from the start, sinister rhythms are present: a girl is taking care of her mother only to be startled by a scary figure in a porcelain mask. The youngster is chased across a frozen lake and falls through. The opening is masterful and echoes other enigmatic tales like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The child that fell is now the adult Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) and she is with Bond.
Bond soon perceives that things are not going well when he is sent to Cuba to track Dr. Obruchev (David Dencik), who has his hands on a viral infectious and lethal technology. Obruchev as it turns out is working with Bond’s nemesis Blofield (Christoph Waltz), now at a hospital for the insane. If Bond is uncertain he doesn’t show it, grabbing whatever is at hand to fight killer motorcycles and SUVs. He is nearly indestructible and a few scenes feel akin to “Rambo” in pure machismo.
That being said, the opening combat scenes involving a bionic eye are thrilling and percussive.
A gun battle in Cuba is depicted as a ballet of bullets reminiscent of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”
Waltz reprises his role ala Hannibal Lecter bound in a metal chair. He is perfectly on key as a sardonic terror, complete with one fishy eye.
There is a familial plot twist that gives Bond some empathy and heart here but you will have to see it for yourself.
There is a new female 00 agent present (Lashana Lynch) with the coolness of a Scarlett Johansson Avenger and we will hopefully see more of her.
There is one stupendous scene with an Aston Martin (bordering on the surreal) along with a terrific opening that makes the entire film.
Rami Malek plays a villain here who — of course—- has gotten the short end of the stick. Though his character is of the familiar type, Malek does it well with a palpable eerie quality.
While some of the plot feels routine, there is an entertaining absurdist progression to the episodes here. Everything is thrown at Bond, from Uzis, to submachine guns and rabid vehicles, to smiling sociopaths. Bond rises through it all. And as we, ourselves, are continuing to be tested in this human experience of living, it is exciting and comforting to see our favorite agent answer the call.
A Bond film is a cinematic rite with opening sequences which unfold spectacularly upon the eye. Happily, this latest Bond chapter does not disappoint and carries on a treasured thrill.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org