Thursday, September 3, 2020

This 'No Time To Die' Trailer Changes Everything For James Bond

When I was a kid, probably far too young, I wanted to be James Bond. I grew out of that with the crushing realization I’m not suave, skilled, or particularly gifted in any area of spycraft. That said, I will never not be super pumped for a new James Bond movie. And that, of course, includes the upcoming No Time to Die. Delayed from its original release, 007’s latest adventure hits theaters in November, and to rebuild the hype, there’s this slick, action-packed new trailer.

According to this trailer, No Time to Die “Changes Everything,” which has become par for the course in the modern iteration of the world’s greatest super spy. This finds him retired from active duty and lounging on a beach somewhere with Lea Seydoux’s Madeleine Swann, a relaxing reprieve interrupted when Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) brings him back into the fold to stop a villain named Safin (Rami Malek) from destroying the world.

First off, this trailer looks great. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga (the first American Bond director) and cinematographer Linus Sandgren shot the hell out of this thing. There’s crazy action, an epic scope, what appears to be a tangled tale of betrayal and deception, and all the shiny gizmos and fancy places one expects out of a Bond film.

We get to see new additions Paloma (Ana de Armas) and Nomi (Lashana Lynch) kick a whole lot of ass. Lynch plays a new 00, which, along with Bond’s retirement, could lend credence to the “007 is a Black woman now!” rumors from during production. There are also a few moments that feel like they have to be additions by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was brought in to punch up Neal Purvis and Robert Wade’s original script. All of that and more sounds super fun.

As fantastic as this looks, I do have some slight misgivings. I know this is Craig’s final outing as the iconic spy, but this looks like another film that wants to get in and root around in his shadowy back story and troubled history. On one hand, I really like that. It’s part of what makes Skyfall so good and different in the canon. But when they attempt similar things in Spectre, it plays clunky and overwrought. I’m all for reinventing iconic characters and giving them depth and nuance, but it’s so often clumsy.

And then there’s the villain. Malek, with his droll affect, heavy makeup, and creepy mask, chews on every bit of scenery he can in this trailer. Which is fine, he’s a Bond villain after all. But he’s also the latest in the long line of Hollywood antagonists who aim to save humanity by literally murdering millions of people. I can’t help but think there’s going to be a scene where he lays out his motivations, which will be well-thought out and convincing except for the murder part, only for the film to pull back and be all, nope, fuck that wackado. It’s become tired and boring at this point. And maybe I’m projecting, but that’s what all the scuttlebutt sounds like.

Regardless of my wariness, this is a James Fucking Bond movie and I’m stoked. I don’t know that this is the movie that’s going to get me back to a movie theater in the midst of a global pandemic, but it has a better shot than most. I care way more about this than Tenet.

No Time to Die is scheduled to open, pandemic permitting, November 20.

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