NO TIME TO DIE
Starring: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas, and Christoph Waltz
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
No Time to Die may not be the best film of the Daniel Craig-Bond era, but it’s easily his most layered performance as the titular character. After introducing connective tissue in Quantum of Solace, this film wraps up a five-film arc and does so with finesse and poise. Léa Seydoux, Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch bring out each side of Bond, while there is no shortage of action beats, including some fantastic car chases. It's a fitting send off for Craig, who will go down as one of the best Bonds of all time, an accolade well earned.
The connective tissue between Spectre and No Time to Die may lose you at the start given how forgettable Spectre is, but once it moves on, everything that is great about James Bond kicks into high gear. Slick action, the right amount of (corny) humor, and charisma dripping from every actor (Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch, especially). The runtime flies with intense cat-and-mouse games between intelligence agencies until a more conventional third act can no longer hide its uninspired villain (Rami Malek is wasted) and unfathomably indestructible hero. Still, the odd-numbered Daniel Craig-Bonds are now 3-for-3.
Daniel Craig’s time as James Bond has ranged from eh to excellent, but never because Craig made a great or terrible Bond. He's been perfectly fine, though somewhat uncharismatic. It really lived and died with the direction and writing. That said, the overlong Bond 25 is generally well directed, but falters with the writing. The opening action sequence is fantastic, but the plot gets super convoluted with unclear character motivations, while the action mostly devolves into uninspired gunfights. I appreciate that it gives a proper ending to Craig’s Bond era, but it's a distant third behind Casino Royale and Skyfall.
Although No Time to Die never really gets around to justifying its length, there's never a moment that feels dull or too slow. Daniel Craig’s final outing as Bond is more emotional than one might expect, but also funnier than anticipated, even if not all the comic bits land. Linus Sandgren's excellent cinematography brings some beautiful imagery to the screen, and the fantastic action sequences really stand out. Rami Malek is a menacing villain, although he's not quite in the movie enough to count among the greats, but what this film really needed was more Ana de Armas.
Daniel Craig’s send-off as James Bond is near perfection. Not only is it very stylish and badass, but also emotionally satisfying. The action is epic too, with director Cary Joji Fukunaga crushing every car chase and shootout. The story, featuring heavy global and personal stakes, as well as a wickedly good villain played by Rami Malek, more than justifies the film's lengthy runtime. My only gripe is that Ana de Armas is unfortunately very underused. That aside, No Time to Die is an excellent Bond movie.