'No Time to Die' balances action scenes and emotional drama
Since No Time to Die is the 26th James Bond film released, it's probably not a wise idea expecting this film to reinvent the wheel of this action sub-genre adapted from the characters created in Ian Fleming's novels. Viewers know this wheel and can happily identify the spokes comprising the wheel. Some of the more obvious spokes of the James Bond films are beautifully seductive women, shown here with actress Ana de Armas (Knives Out, 2018), futuristic technology with cars and jets, James Bond visiting exotic locations and an engagingly psychopathic villain.
All of the expected spokes are here, and everything mixes together well for a controlled, well-paced adventure exploring themes of loss and old traditions meeting new surprises. Some people may remember No Time to Die is the 5th and final film with Daniel Craig (Logan Lucky, 2017) as James Bond, so the theme of loss is important here.
Of course the biggest spoke in this film is the large-scale action scenes. But what makes this film great is that it isn't overly devoted to fights, car chases and explosions which allows more time for the characters to develop and real-life situations to take root. The sustained balance between emotional and physical drama also allows the action scenes to shine with great intensity shown best in a misty Norwegian forest and on the streets of an Italian coastal paradise.
Another element supporting the realism is this film is not afraid to let Daniel Craig show his natural age. At 53 years old, and still handsome, he wears very little makeup and is consciously less graceful than in the past when escaping danger and defeating bad guys. This realism is a thankfully far cry from other male-centered action films like the ridiculous Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018) where Tom Cruise painfully tries to remain strong and sexy.
With a villain weaponizing nano-technology, poisonous plants and manufactured disease, No Time to Die offers insightful social commentary on the dangers of virality when it's grown in the wrong hands. Watching this was a lot of fun. Even though it's over 2.5 hours long, it was over before I knew it.