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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

No Time to Die: Quibbles about that Death

My wife and I finally saw the new (to us) final Daniel Craig as James Bond movie -- on Amazon Prime. We very much enjoyed it.  In fact, although it has its flaws, I'd say No Time to Die is certainly among best James Bond movies ever made.

[Spoilers follow, of course.]

Let's begin with that shocker of an ending: Bond dies.  I didn't like to see that as it was happening --not at all -- but it is a highly original way of ending a Bond movie, and deserves credit for that.  It does explode or reveal as a myth the fact that Bond never dies.  Those around him die, and he must suffer that.  But not Bond himself.

The words on the screen at the end of the movie assure us that we'll see Bond again, and this will no doubt occur the way it's been presented in every transition to a newly acted Bond since it first happened back in Sean Connery's reign, actually twice, once for one time with George Lazenby, and then for a new series of Bond movies with Roger Moore.  In those and every subsequent case, the new Bonds were introduced with no mention of the fact that they looked different from their predecessor.  The same logic says the new post-Craig Bond can be introduced with no reference to his predecessor being killed.  What this, I suppose, means is that Bond's death at the end of No Time to Die is no big deal -- even though it meant the world in the context of that movie.

I did have two quibbles about the two characters must crucial to that death.  Rami Malek was superb as the arch-villain Safin who engineered Bond's death -- no one can match Malek's way of delivering powerful lines in a soft voice and a nearly expressionless face.  But given the profundity of Bond's death, I would have rather seen it done by a life-long adversary, like Blofeld, who's not able to step up to that role because he's earlier been killed by Bond in another nefarius Safin move on the lethal chessboard.  Similarly, although Madeleine (well-played by Léa Seydoux) with a most worthy love of Bond's life. we unfortunately don't meet her until the beginning of this very movie.  I would have rather seen someone we already got to know in previous movies.  Of course, since Vesper was already killed, it would have been difficult to pull someone out of the earlier Craig as Bond movies, but, nonetheless, that would have added a special gravitas in No Time to Die.  Bond's daughter was a really nice part of this movie, and had a gravitas of its own, but a mother with a history of Bond loving her before this story began would have added more.

Otherwise, I thought every other aspect of the movie was outstanding.  I especially loved the reprise of Louis Armstrong's "We Have All the Time in the World" at the end of No Time to Die.  The reprise, of course, was from Her Majesty's Secret Service, where it was also played at the end of the movie.  In other words, the death of Bond's true love, and then all these years later, the death of Bond, get the same musical aftermath.  Unless you're made of stone, that song is bound to bring a tear to your eyes.

Thinking about what the next Bond movie will bring, we have  the question of how many of the agents and administration in No Time to Die with survive.  I see no reason why all of them can't, deprived of course of any grief at the loss of the Bond played by Craig.  I've seen and really enjoyed every Bond movie ever made, pretty much in the year in which they were released, and I'm looking forward to more.

See also The New James Bond -- Without the Golden Pun ... It's Not HBO -- It's a Quantum of Solace

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