DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN NO TIME TO DIE!
IS IAN FLEMING ROLLING over in his grave yet?
Well, the “woke” cognoscenti apparently have won. This miniscule minority of pious, odious killjoys have triumphed at last, as they do again and again with wars of attrition. Relentlessly crucifiying James Bond for his “sins”(heterosexuality, being male, being British, being white, being patriotic, nationalism, “chauvinism,” “misogyny,” being a Don Juan, being a fantasy figure for so many “cis” males over the decades), their campaign was finally successful.
The pandemic of 2020 delayed the titular powers that be from releasing No Time to Die to a worldwide audience, when and where movie theatre attendance was largely off-limits or greatly diminished. Why did they even bother if Bond was slated for so ignoble a fate? Streaming is the present and the future . Why delay the inevitable? Especially considering their scorn for their true audience?
No Time to Die actually begins bettter than it should. Curiously the Daniel Craig-era Bond films rely heavily on continuity, seemingly more so than any of the other installments from past decades and actors. Each of these, following the reboot of Casino Royale(2006), four episiodes are carefully calibrated sequels, for better or worse. And certainly the dour mood of obsessively fretting upon whether Bond is or isn’t “obsolete” is the common motif.
Alright, ok, fine. The film begins with an important backstory prologue from Madeleine’s past which illuminates plot devices to come. Then there’s another flashback involving both Bond and Madeleine set in Italy, during which Seydoux, in a star making performance, sizzles maybe more than any other “Bond Girl” of recent memory. As with her less glamorous but more provocative turn in Blue is the Warmest Color, which propelled her into international stardom, she’s so mesmerizing you can’t take your eyes off her nor stop thinking of her. This section has great action sequences and an unexpected emotional wallop which will resonate throughout the story.
Five years later Bond is officially retired, single, residing or vacationing in Jamaica when he encounters Felix. Of course his old buddy wants Bond to assist him on one last mission, of extreme importance. Felix is not the only person who has his or her eyes on Bond on Sir Ian Fleming’s old stomping grounds.
Freelancer Bond is lured to Cuba, perhaps unfortunately for him like a fly to a spider’s web. SPECTRE awaits but so does Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Paloma(Ana de Armas), a newly minted spy working with the Americans. Though she technically never becomes a “Bond Girl,” de Armas commands the screen with a brilliant, funny, sexy starmaking turn complimenting the great action sequence. She is devastatingly beautiful and sexy, reminiscent of a younger Penelope Cruz, who also was always more than just eye candy.
Indeed de Armas’s appearance is really a glorified cameo, from which the film never truly recovers.
Bond returns to London and eventually, begrudingly to his old post and to being reunited with Madeleine, which is when the film truly falters from initial promise.
No Time to Die not only resurrects the “Is Bond Obsolete?” inquiry which it insists the audience cares about, but fully plunges into the “Great Replacement Theory” driving white nationalist rage in both Europe and America by making Bond’s replacement not only Black but female, and a particularly butch one at that. Nomi(Lashana Lynch) is the “new” 007 some of us feared about. No matter what the creators profess this decision is deliberate provocation. It is meant to summon collective emotions about “diversity” and “multiculturalism.” About this insatiable white liberal need for a certain type of masochism, of genuflecting towards Blacks so as not to be considered “racists.” Of white betrayal, frankly. Of this belief that only Blacks (and the LBGT community) should ever be represented. Thus the endless obsession with having a Black Spiderman, a lesbian Supergirl or what have you. And, of course, since the Daniel Craig era, a Black James Bond.
Also London presents us with the unexpected demise of SPECTRE, Madeleine’s five-year old daughter (correctly guess the plot device, I dare you) and the worst villain of the entire James Bond franchise, Lyutsifer Safin (say the name quickly).
Rami Malek. I never watched a minute of his breakthrough performance, Mr. Robot. Full disclosure I only have seen the first one-third of Bohemian Rhapsody, but I am puzzled as to why he won an Oscar for the performance. Was it because Hollywood loves to reward actors for flashy biopics over more subtle, nuanced performances not based upon flamboyant types (Jake La Motta, Truman Capote, Freddie Mercury)? I only know that Malek is god awful in this role, regardless of what the script outlined. This is like bad, bad, bad Peter Lorre. Combined with a ridiculous accent, ludicrous hair and aging makeup, it’s camp alright, but camp without any damn reward.
Which also holds true for the finale. The final third of the movie transports the characters to a Japanese island where Lyutsifer Safin sustains a nursery of poisonous plantlife. This botanical Dr. Strangelove has you guessed it diabolical plans for the world–unintentionally aided by a massive blunder by the head of British Intelligence, M (Ralph Fiennes); who once hid a vital secret project from Bond, James Bond.
Were Bond to face–and mortally succumb–to an adversary his equal (or superior) would be an “acceptable” ending. But this twerp?!? A villain of no grand distinction?
There’s a strange echo of Dr. Strangelove which may or may not be intentional. At least Stanley Kubrick animated his ending with the character’s maniac glee. No Time to Die disposes of Bond with a grand thoughtlessness, a disgusting lack of empathy or sympathy. He’s not even scripted to utter any profundity upon his sacrifices. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot it ends only with a whimper.
“JAMES BOND WILL RETURN” it says at the end of the credits. I waited around to see as I have done so many times before that famous promise from the executors of the franchise. This time I should have been gripped by the relevant questions–what, when, where, why and how?–but I didn’t give a damn anymore. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson don’t give a damn what a silent majority feels about 007 and No Time to Die proves it. So why should I care about their hollow promises? I had loved James Bond all my movie-going life, and they crucified that character upon an altar of wokeness.
The Russians didn’t kill James Bond.
SPECTRE didn’t kill James Bond.
The custodians of this franchise killed James Bond to appease a vocal minority, not a contented silent majority.
What’s more 2021 than this?
Merry Christmas (never Xmas),