No Time to Die
No Time to Die (2021) movie review
No Time to Die is the fifth and final installment of the Daniel Craig James Bond era, as well as the twenty-fifth installment of the overall series. Following the events of Spectre (2015), James Bond is drawn back into the fray when an old friend returns asking him to help track down a mysterious villain who could be connected to Madeleine Swann’s past… The film opens this weekend and has fortunately recuperated from from the lackluster critical reception from Spectre.
Look this movie needs to make money so just go see it. Is it the best of Craig’s Bond films? No, but it’s pretty good! Plus it’s a massive improvement from Spectre, which means this series both started and ended on high notes. Is it as good as Casino Royale (2006)? Nah, but it’s still worth going to see! Plus ending your film series on a high is not a very Bond thing to do, to I’ll take what I can get here…
When Casino Royale burst onto the scene in 2006, it was right in the middle of Bourne-fever. Bond has always been a subject of the changing times rather than a trendsetter itself, but it just to happened that this was the pitch-perfect direction for this series. (I mean he didn’t surf on a giant CGI wave caused by a space laser melting the ice caps…) Quantum of Solace (2008) and Skyfall (2012) also drew from popular inspirations, with Skyfall landing more success thanks to the apt direction from Sam Mendes.
Now I don’t know if it was pulling inspiration from Kingsman (2014) or not, but Spectre ended up making a huge misstep in this area… Kingsman was a hit, and it did it in a silly, self-aware way that made Bond films look all-too serious. For the life of me I don’t know why they chose this movie to incorporate cheese. Spectre was a complete tonal misfire, attempting to pull a Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) and blend the old with the new without changing the cheesy approach of the source material OR the gritty tone of the new series.
Fortunately, No Time to Die springs back onto its feet with the pitch-perfect tone! It is serious and gritty. Absolutely. It is also fun and cheesy? Somehow yes. Does it work? You’d better believe it. The lack of a foreboding and hilariously dark atmosphere (coughcoughSpectre) helps the light moments land without distracting from the more serious story at hand. Plus, like Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the movie is long enough to delicately transition the audience from one emotional beat to another. Can you imagine of Quantum tried to be silly with only an hour and forty-six minutes? No thank you!
Cary Joji Fukunaga enters as director replacing Sam Mendes, and despite a film that isn’t quite as stunning as Roger Deakins’s Skyfall cinematography, he delivers a consistently solid film. The visual style is really strong, the action and choreography is exciting, and the film, despite the long runtime, never feels like it wastes time. Again, it’s no Skyfall, but do you remember that time Bond made a long phone call during a car chase in Spectre? Ugh that movie is a mess…
Don’t get me wrong though, this movie is long. It feels a bit long in some moments too. So if you are wondering why I keep talking about Spectre, it’s because I think Spectre actually hurts No Time to Die quite a bit. This is certainly good damage control, but maybe if we hadn’t opened the can of worms that is everything happening in Spectre, we wouldn’t have had to wrap up so much? The pacing is solid in No Time to Die, but they do have to spend arguably too much time getting over the setup from the last film to get to the story in this one!
The story is still pretty good though. I enjoyed the little twists and turns, and the way they incorporate the other previous films is pretty solid, if not emotionally manipulative. As much as I would love to blame the film for hitting on nostalgia, they don’t lean on the other films nearly as much as they could. And they still manage to draw in the audience far more than I expected! Plus the film is very fun! There is alot going on, but instead of making that confusing, it actually created a very fun atmosphere where the characters are just as lost as the audience until the curtain falls.
Now if a Bond film is only as good as it’s villain- which I think is very true! Casino Royale? Grounded, memorable, and never cheesy. Quantum? Understandably realistic. And also forgettable… Skyfall? Awesome! If not a little silly… Spectre? Just completely off. Now we have Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin, a visually striking villain who gets the best shot scenes in the film. Rami Malek is also just perfect for this role. I think I remember a list that came out after Spectre where it listed actors who would make great Bond villains, and Malek was like second from the top. Just perfect.
Sadly I don’t think he is used well enough. Despite a great performance and a strong connection to the characters, I’m not sure what he wanted… I get what his goal was, but the film spends so much time wrapping up the series that it forgets to give a proper motivation to its villain! That said, at least the heroes had plenty of drive!
Daniel Craig returns for another paycheck as James Bond, and more than not, earns it. To be fair, he does have some fantastic moments in this film! Léa Seydoux also takes a big step up from Spectre too, selling the relationship between Madeleine and Bond that never really stuck in Spectre… Ana de Armas has a brief but memorably awesome role, and Lashana Lynch brings a wonderful balance to the film! Lynch plays another double-o, but much more of a soldier-type than Bond. And Craig and Lynch play off each other wonderfully!
Hans Zimmer enters the series, replacing Thomas Newman from the previous two films. Fortunately his creativity was saved for Dune (2021), as he brings a perfectly fitting but never distracting score to the series. You don’t really want a score like this to stand out too much, and that is the case here. He brings his signature style, and the composition is of course fantastic! But if you listened to all five of these scores back to back to back (like I did), none of them stand too fat apart from the others.
I’ve definitely padded this review… But look, without getting too deep into it, No Time to Die is a really fun ride! It’s well made and does its best with what it is given. I don’t really blame this film for having to much to tie together, and it does a solid job at that too. It has a few plot devices that either don’t make sense or some moments that exist just to exist, but this film sticks the landing quite well anyway! The strong performances, exciting visuals, riveting action, strong pacing, and surprising moments take the audience on a the last leg of a journey that sadly had to come to a close at some point. But while the last film in this series wasn’t quite as good as the first one, it was still a solid way to end. 7/10.
So yeah, No Time to Die is finally here! Did you see it yet? What did you think? And how would you rank the films in this series? Be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more like it, leave a like; leave a comment; let us know what we should talk about next! Thanks for reading!
-review by Ryan Prince