James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. (from IMDB)
Delayed for the past year and a half, the long awaited fifth and final installment in the Daniel Craig-led James Bond 007 series is finally here. It should have released in April of 2020, 5 years after the previous installement, 2015's Spectre, but now six years have passed and the end has come. What results is a Bond movie long worth the wait and possibly one of the best in the whole franchise.
Spectre was long considered to be most likely Craig's final outing as Bond, and upon its release, he infamously said during an interview that he'd rather break the glass table in front of him and slit his wrists than make another Bond movie. But the actor has since back-pedaled and admitted that it was like having just crossed the finish line of a long race and being asked when the next race would be; he couldn't imagine doing it again. Thankfully, Craig changed his mind, and No Time To Die is arguably his best Bond outing since 2006's Casino Royale.
I'm not shy in admitting that 2006's Casino Royale -- Daniel Craig's first time as James Bond -- is one of my all-time favorite movies. It's by far my favorite James Bond film (I have since seen them all, if you're curious), and I do think it's the best entry of all of the Bond movies. Everything from the characters to the direction to the surprises, action, and David Arnold's memorable score all check the right boxes for me. LeChiffre is a fantastic Bond villain -- and a surprisingly grounded one -- and Eva Green is a brilliant Bond girl (and definitely my favorite). The story showed Bond becoming the 007 fans have come to know, while explaining why he is the way he is, and showing that the man can not only love but experience true heartache (and heartbreak) as well. Casino Royale made James Bond... human. Its follow-up, 2008's Quantum of Solace was the first time a Bond movie picked up where the previous film left off, and it continued the story launched by Casino. Sadly, poor editing and a director who just wasn't right for the series turned in a less than successful sequel. Fans would later find the 2012 third outing, Skyfall, to be one of the best of the franchise, but I've found that repeat viewings have made certain aspects of the movie irk me (including the fact that he was already being treated as "old" and a "has-been" in the first movie to follow a previous two-part origin story. C'mon, guys!). And I'd be remiss to not mention that replacing Arnold's cinematic score with that of the far more bland Thomas Newman for this entry (and 2015's Spectre) to be a truly disappointing move. But while repeat viewings have soured my feelings on Skyfall some (I do like aspects of it still, don't get me wrong), repeat viewings have warmed me to Spectre, a movie that many found to be a terribly disappointing follow-up to Skyfall (much like Quantum was to Casino). This fourth in the Craig series continued the story from the first three films and tried way too hard to tie them all together, with the organization Spectre -- and a reimagining of the villain Blofeld -- being behind all of the villains we'd seen so far. It was convoluted at best. However, this conclusion, No Time To Die further builds on Spectre (and makes it a more enjoyable film for me because of it), continuing many strands established since 2006's Casino Royale, and aims to close the book on Craig's tenure as the famous British spy.
When we saw James Bond rise to Double-Oh status in Casino Royale, we were not quite seeing James Bond as "James Bond 007" just yet. Quantum of Solace continued the character as kind of a rogue agent, also still not quite the Bond we knew yet. Skyfall opens with Bond as we think we know him, but in the opening gambit, he gets shot and plummets to the waters below and is presumed dead for months. He then comes back to service in terrible shape and has to prove himself again as not just damaged goods. I mean, we last saw him on his first big mission (and its continuation)! Spectre shows him back to work, but he has to work under the radar on a secret mission for Judi Dench's M (who died in Skyfall) and so he's working as a rogue agent yet again. No Time To Die is the Bond movie I've been waiting for from Craig. While he starts the movie retired and, my goodness, working kind of as a rogue agent again, he gets to do a lot more spy stuff and really get some serious chances to shine as the ultimate secret agent he's supposed to be. The film's finale gives us some of the best Bond butt-kicking yet and it makes for a really satisfying last time out for Daniel Craig's James Bond. It's also neat to see that all five of his films make a very complete story from film to film, which is something that hasn't happened before in this Bond universe on the big screen. Spy series like Mission: Impossible and Bourne have all worked as their own serial series as well, and it's satisfying to see James Bond get the same thoughtful treatment. It's certainly hardly perfect, don't get me wrong, but I appreciate what they tried to do here. No Time To Die also re-humanizes Bond in ways we haven't seen since Casino Royale, so it especially makes this final chapter have a punch that sticks with you.
The content for the movie continues what you'd expect in a Bond film. Skyfall offered up the series first-ever "F" word, spoken by Dench's M, and now No Time To Die includes the second one, this time spoken by Ralph Fiennes' M. Bond speaks the movie's lone "S" word (is this a first for James Bond himself in all 25 movies?), and there are a few uses of the Lord's name in vain, including "J-sus Chr-st" and "For Chr-st's sake" both said by Bond at some point. Otherwise, language is thankfully used rarely. The sexual content is also pretty tame for a Bond movie. We see him and his girlfriend Madeleine making out and in bed together a couple times, but he isn't shown womanizing like in the Connery or Moore days. The movie also strongly hints to Q being gay (another first for the entire series) as Bond and Moneypenny go to visit him at his home and he complains about cooking for his date and that "he" will be showing up shortly. Lastly, Ana de Armas' character Paloma wears a beautiful dress during the action sequence in Cuba that reveals most of her bare back and dips extremely low in the front, showing a great deal of cleavage for all of her screentime. Violence is heavy with lots of intense scenes where characters are executed just off screen or shot at point-blank range just off screen. Most of it is bloodless, too, but the plot involves a mysterious bioweapon that attacks a target based on their DNA, and we see the victims, in many scenes, suffer boils on their faces and bleeding from the mouth as they scream in pain and then quickly die. We also get a quick glimpse of a character's arm being bent backwards, accompanied by the sound of it breaking, and see some bullet wounds causing victims' clothing to be soaked in blood in a couple different instances. Finally, one of the villain's thugs, nicknamed Cyclops, has a mechanical eye, and we see it popped out and on the ground a couple times, with the man having an otherwise empty eye socket (there's also a prolonged scene where we see Blofeld with an empty eye socket as well).
The movie teases a new Double-Oh that stepped in while Bond was away, and this character, named Nomi, is played by Captain Marvel's Lashana Lynch. Honestly, I didn't like Lynch in Captain Marvel at all -- she was too prickly with too much attitude -- and her character is ten-times worse here. She's arrogant, charmless and grates on the nerves. To contrast, Armas' Paloma is funny, charming, and fun to watch -- especially with her interactions with Craig's Bond -- and it's unfortunate that Lynch got way more screentime than Armas. (Harris' Moneypenny is also far more likeable, and I much rather would have seen her fill that role instead of Lynch). I get that we're probably not supposed to like Lynch's character all that much, but she's not even a likeable foil for Bond; she's just annoying, and it makes her scenes a chore to watch.
Hans Zimmer makes his Bond franchise debut on the music here, and he does quite a good job bringing a booming, more ominous sound to the score. However, when there's a need for the emotional angle to kick in, he delivers, and his soft swells during the finale set the tone beautifully (Think "Time" from Inception, but not quite as epic). His treatment is closer in feel to what David Arnold used to bring to the series, and I'm happy he was brought in to close out Craig's series with a bang.
While it's certainly not a perfect film, and it has some of the usual (moral) problems frequent with the Bond franchise, No Time To Die is a solid spy thriller and Bond film that honors the character and its legacy as Craig hangs up his holster and signature watch from Q branch. Daniel Craig is at the top of his game here as Bond, giving a really fine performance and bringing more life and feeling to the character than in some of the previous entries. No Time To Die is the Bond movie Craig fans have been waiting for; it's certainly been worth the long wait.
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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