No Time To Die was supposed to be the signal for the return of cinema several times last year but with everything going on in the world the film’s release date was pushed back time and time again. Finally, in September of 2021, Daniel Craig’s final outing as Bond debuted to the world bringing an end to an era. I think Daniel Craig’s James Bond is one of the best of the franchise and it’s been a delight to watch him bring this role to life in his own ways over the last decade and a half.
With his first introduction as Bond in Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s Bond is as serious and stone-faced as they come. I think with the past few films Craig has been able to break out of that characterization and give his beloved character a bit more personality and emotion. The multi-movie character arc is a nice change of pace from years past and is one of the things that I think really freshens up the franchise. Craig is always fantastic but we have to give credit to all the actresses in No Time To Die for being able to stick out and have staying power. Lea Seydoux of course is back as Bond’s love interest and captivated all of my attention and Lashana Lynch is a welcome addition to the franchise standing on her own beside Craig.
But I was particularly impressed by newcomer Ana de Armas. I think she can thank her role in Knives Out for giving her the ability to be comfortable with Craig and play off of him. Not to spoil anything but she’s in all of maybe seven minutes of the movie and she practically steals it away from Craig. I would 100% love to see a spinoff or something surrounded around her character because I was left wanting more. Of course it wouldn’t be a Bond movie without the iconic M, Q, and Moneypenny. With everyone reprising their roles from the previous films the chemistry was ever-present. And as far as iconic characters go I think the villain is obviously one of the most important parts of the story and Rami Malek didn’t sell me as the villain. One of my only qualms with the film’s is this casting.
Where the film loses me a bit is the plot. Once again, I like the multi-movie character arc and plot lines. I love that all of Craig’s films connect! But the story and plot gets a bit lost here. The film starts out with a bang and is able to keep that momentum but by the third act all of the first act’s hard work is scarcely paid off because I was tired from all of the middle act’s fluff. With an almost three-hour runtime it’s far too long than any movie needs to be. (Fortunately for a movie like Skyfall its long runtime works in its favor.) But I like that it goes outside of the box and doesn’t feel like your traditional Bond fare. There’s enough romance, action, and explosions to please everybody and its ending is one that audiences will no doubt be talking about for months to come.. and one that I’ve yet to really wrap my brain around.
Of course it’s magnificent in all of its technical works. The film is gorgeously shot – but doesn’t hold a candle to Roger Deakins’ work in Skyfall – and every shot is bathed in beautiful colors. All of Bond’s costumes are as suave as ever but the score is some of Hans Zimmer’s best work to date. I thought Cary Joji Fukunaga brought a fresh pair of eyes to the Bond director’s chair in the best way. But one thing that must be discussed is the film’s theme song. I felt like the opening credits were a little more tame than usual but they were still beautiful nonetheless. The theme sung by Billie Eilish left a lot to be desired though and doesn’t hit anywhere near as hard and isn’t near as memorable as those from the last couple of films.
This is one of those movies that you have to see on the big screen in a movie theater. It’s not one to be missed if you are a fan of the franchise and feels like the perfect ending for Craig’s run as the iconic James Bond. I look forward to the future of Bond but I’m forever grateful for this quintet of movies – solidifying Daniel Craig as the gold standard.
Reed’s Rating: 8/10