Do you ever find yourself watching a film and just being so at ease that what you’re seeing was made by the highest caliber of filmmaking that you just sit back and enjoy the ride? And that any kind of anxiety that the movie would end up being lackluster just dissipates? James Bond is the single most well-known spy in the realm of cinema, and it brings forth a certain nostalgia of decades gone by. The Bond franchise is simultaneously one of the most recognizable franchises in the history of film as well as one the longest running franchises ever, spanning across six decades. It’s still got it.
No Time To Die is the 25th film in the James Bond series and is also the fifth and final film starring Daniel Craig as the titular character. Craig is joined by Lashana Lynch, Ana De Armas, Rami Malek, as well as many returning cast members like Lea Seydoux and Jeffrey Wright. This time a retired 007 is pulled back into the action to stop the bad guys from taking over the world and maybe find some love along the way. Yeah, this is the central premise of not just this story but of all Bond stories really. I say this with all the respect in the world, if you’ve seen one Bond film you’ve basically seen them all. What’s most intriguing however is the fact that it’s been able to remain resilient and not at all become stale from its formula unlike some other big blockbusters.
A lot of things stay the same but at the same time there are some pretty seismic shifts in this film. You definitely get the sense that the people behind this movie understood they had a rare opportunity to go for a big ending and not be concerned with continuity issues that would come after this film. The reason being everybody knew this was Daaniel Craig’s final film and whoever would replace him would essentially be a rebooted version of the franchise. With that in mind, they aim to present some new storylines for the Bond character and risk some fan backlash with a pretty bold ending. An ending that was never really afforded to any of the previous iterations of the character. There’s something truly refreshing about a blockbuster franchise that aims to tell a concluding chapter and not at all be concerned with what the next installment is or leaving things open ended.
I am by no means a James Bond aficionado. I have no particular love for this franchise or have any real connection to any of the long-standing characters or actors attached to it. My only real involvement with this series would be the recent Daniel Craig era films that I must say I’ve enjoyed quite a bit. But James Bond is an old enough series where you know what you want out of a movie like this, and this installment offers a lot of those attributes in spades. Simply put, the craft on display is top notch and it evokes an old-fashioned approach to moviemaking but with the latest technological advancements to breathe new life. The ensemble cast is delightful, the camera work is excellent, the cinematography makes this such a beautiful picture to look at, and the score just sings. The action scenes in particular, everything from how they are shot, to the actual fully realized movie sets, and the brilliant choreography provide a showcase for everything a lot of modern-day blockbusters are lacking. The performances are so good that I found myself just completely sucked into the film entirely and even to the character storylines in a way I can’t say about the other films in the series. And I also believe very strongly, there is something to be said for the fact that there is an abundance of strong female co-leads in the film that really work to reshape the long-standing narrative with this franchise's treatment of women.
One of the most glaring issues with the film, however, is it’s very lengthy runtime. It’s one thing for a film to run for a very long time but it’s a very different thing when it begins to feel its length and then some. The movie is two hours and 45 minutes and easily feels like it’s over three hours, a very good three hours mind you, but you can’t help but feel perhaps a good 15 minutes could’ve been shaved off the final cut. Rami Malek as the villain is also a complete misfire, whatever he’s trying to do to bring life to that character is a complete dud and borders on cartoonishly embarrassing even for this or any franchise. It’s of no assistance that there was no attempt to make him more than a plot device instead of a character.
Look this isn’t a perfect film by any means, but there is more than enough and then some to provide for a worthwhile entertaining watch. It gives you just about everything you would want out of a James Bond film, everything from men in suits, martini drinks and cheesy spy genre references. It’s also an emotional finale and a complete arc for the Daniel Craig era.