Watching No Time To Die felt like a religious obligation rather than excitement for the next Bond installment. I was not sold on this film when I watched the trailers. I thought that it was going to be bad. Luckily, I was proven wrong and I had a solid, good time. Honestly I was impressed.
After Casino Royale, one of the best if not the best Bond films, then the abominable Quantum of Solace, followed by the great Skyfall and the mediocre Specter, No Time To Die found what made the good ones work, used it and added a few surprise elements that elevated the film from a predictable mediocre spy film to an emotionally involving closing chapter.
From the opening scene, I was sold on this film. And I gotta give it to Cary Joji Fukunaga. His directing style gave the film a very dynamic identity and engaging visuals. The way he carried out the action sequences was top notch direction and they didn’t feel cheap or cliché. It is hard to imagine that after 24(?) entries a Bond film would somehow feel slightly different than the rest. The director executed the rest of the film really beautifully.
No Time To Die follows the basic structure of every save-the-world film. However, the writing team decided to make Bond a more touchable character rather than this infallible figure that Bond was always associated with. He was given a very good character arc which is a rarity in Bond films. This deeper approach to James Bond saved the film and carried it. Now the biggest drawback was Safin with the cringiest first name ever: Lyutisfer. Rami Malek was just not good as the villain. He was trying so hard. Imagine mixing Dr. No from Dr. No and Raoul Silva from Skyfall and putting them into the body of a very peaceful looking dude – even the scars didn't help. He has no screen presence. He reminded me of like a very obsessive fanboy who wants to force himself on his idol. You can’t look into Rami Malek’s eyes and say he’s threatening. He looks way too peaceful. Even his motivation did not seem right or convincing. Madeleine Swann was okay; her character is like a Swiss army knife – they just use her for whatever purpose they need. The most controversial part of the film to many was Lachana Lynch’s character. She didn’t bother me like she did many. Sometimes she was annoying, sure, but I liked her overall. Ana De Armas as Paloma was just… formidable. Rest of the cast was great. I am not a fan of Ralph Fiennes as M. Just like all bond films, there’s always the villain’s top henchmen and No Time To Die’s was the weakest.
The dialogue was bad at times and sometimes the lengthy backstory/exposition scenes felt really forced. The film featured Bond’s classic one-liners - they are gold. Something struck me as interesting and that was the feminist approach that this film had: not really feminist but the toned down toxic libidinal masculinity that Bond had in other chapters which has been controversial. This film severely cuts it and we see the women resisting his charms, and there were some indirect comments on it. Basically the female characters are finally treated with dignity and not as Bond’s playthings.
The film flowed well for the first hour, slowed down during the second half, then readjusted itself by the climax. The runtime did not bother me. It was lengthy yet I was drawn into the film.
The music by Hans Zimmer… why even say anything, it’s Zimmer! He mixed the James Bond theme with new music in a Zimmer way and most importantly, he incorporated elements from the previous films: musical references to You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which were beautiful nods to the previous chapters.
There were also visual references to Dr. No. I am sure there are more references that I didn’t catch. But this entire mixture of new and old really worked well with this film being the last Daniel Craig film.
All in all, No Time To Die is a film that should not be missed in theaters.