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PLENTY OF TIME TO DIE: THE NEW JAMES BOND MOVIE

The caretakers of the Intellectual Property known as James Bond, knowing that their newest effort would be the last one to star Daniel Craig, decided to spare no expense—or footage—to make this an “epic” entry in the long-running series. The result is a lavish piece of entertainment that ought to please any 007 fan. My only complaint is that there’s just too much of it. Any film that asks its audience to sit still and pay attention for nearly 3 hours had better have a damn good reason. This one doesn’t.

No Time to Die has all the requisite ingredients for a James Bond outing: a charismatic leading man, a beautiful leading lady, at least one creepy criminal, exotic locations, and a variety of pulse-pounding action sequences and daring stunts.

There isn’t a lot for the “new” supporting cast to do, but they are all represented: Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, with the addition of Lashana Lynch as Bond’s purported replacement at MI6 and Rami Malek as the evil Liustifer Safin.

But this film is all about taking stock of James Bond as he attempts to leave his job behind and create a new life with Madeleine (played by the exquisite Léa Seydoux), who stole his heart in Spectre (2015).

In making Bond more vulnerable, screenwriters Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge have demanded more of their low-key star than we have ever seen. This is a more emotional, mature character (although he will have his little jokes)—truly a James Bond for the 21st century. Talented director Cary Joji Fukunaga gives Craig time to breathe between wisecracks, and his grudging acceptance of a female colleague is a definite nod to the #MeToo era.

There is little to dislike about this handsomely mounted production, from Daniel Kleiman’s visually ingenious opening title sequence to the post-credit promise we have all relied on since Dr. No back in 1962. But with so little to prove and such a strong team to execute its winding storyline, why stretch things out so long? I found myself growing impatient to “get on with it” and see how Daniel Craig would bid goodbye to the character he has played for fifteen years. Now that the ending will be revealed on social media by the Spoilers many moviegoers won’t even have that bait to keep them glued to the screen.

Don’t get me wrong: I liked No Time to Die…but I would have liked it better if there were less of it.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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