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‘No Time To Die’ ticks all the right boxes

“No Time to Die” (Rated T)

Cast: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Ralph Fiennes, Lashana Lynch

Genre: Action/Adventure

Where to watch: In theaters

Dwight’s Rating:

James Bond is back!

“No Time To Die” is finally here – after an almost one-year pandemic-related delay.

It’s the 25th installment in this franchise that began nearly 60 years ago with “Dr. No” in 1962.

This also marks Daniel Craig’s fifth and final appearance as the infamous spy, 007.

With all of this happening, understandably, there’s a lot of history, anticipation, and excitement surrounding this latest release. And it’s even more intensified by the rampant speculation about what’s next for this series.

Despite all of that, though, the only thing that really matters is whether “No Time To Die” is worth watching. And the answer to that will likely depend on how you respond to these three questions:

• Do you like action movies?

• Do you like Daniel Craig?

• Do you like James Bond films?

If you’re an action movie fan, “No Time To Die” ticks all the right boxes. It’s loud. There are lots of fast cars. Tons of explosions! And there’s fighting and shooting and killing. And villains. Plenty villains! It’s a villain festival! A veritable villain palooza!

If you like Daniel Craig, well he’s certainly present. He’s driving fast cars, getting blown up, fighting, shooting, killing, and dealing with all those villains – sometimes loudly. He’s wearing clothes, including tuxedos. Sometimes he’s not in clothes. It’s a Daniel Craig palooza!

But if you like James Bond movies, then that’s where things get very interesting. And then there are two additional questions for you:

(a) Do you like the Daniel Craig version of James Bond: the more serious action-oriented, less goofy, less playful, less gadgety 007 films?

or (b) Do you like the style of most all the other (with the possible exception of the wooden/robotic Timothy Dalton) Bonds? The suave, sexy, silliness – but all in good fun – of the Sean Connery and Roger Moore era.

If you said yes to (a), “No Time To Die” is the ultimate of the Daniel Craig-style Bond films. Less cartoony, and less open to spoofs (a la “Austin Powers” etc.), these have ranged from dark and dour to outright depressing, with just occasional glimpses of the humor and wit that’ve been decades-long hallmarks of the franchise.

In this latest installment, we find James enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica after leaving active service. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond on the trail of a mysterious villain who’s armed with a dangerous new technology.

That sounds like the plot of several Marvel movies over the past few years. And why not? Nearly all of those films are blockbusters. The public can’t seem to get enough of the same storyline over and over and over again.

However, over and over and over again is not the same as on and on and on, and “No Time To Die”, at 163 minutes – two hours and 43 minutes! – begins to outstay its non-stop action welcome by the completion of the second hour. (My word! Was the goal to tide us over until the next installment, whenever that may be?)

But for those who wanted (b) – the fans of the good old days of the Connery, Moore and even Pierce Brosnan 007s – “No Time To Die” may only elicit a shrug of the shoulders.

Yes, it’s a fine action film, with flashes of cute interactions with Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and Nomi, a new (temporary?) replacement 007 (Lashana Lynch), and with a huge and talented supporting cast, including Christoph Waltz, Jeffrey Wright, Ana de Armas.

And yes, these five latest pictures in the franchise must be credited with taking Bond in new directions, and with broadening the scope beyond a way of life and a way of storytelling that has largely become outmoded.

But James Bond shouldn’t be just like any regular modern action hero and film. This isn’t supposed to be Vin Diesel or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a tux, but impervious to physical pain and harm like Superman.

And as we are on the cusp of (and many are on the edge of their seats as we await word on who will be) the new Bond, I urge the producers to find the spark needed to return at least some of what made this series unique compared to the “Mission: Impossible” and “Fast & Furious” and the “Jason Bourne” franchises of the action world.

We want our James Bond back!

• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.

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Dwight Strachan

Dwight is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff.

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