To speak bluntly, I did not want to see “No Time to Die.” This was not because I thought it’d be bad, or because I dislike the character, as I can assure, I don’t. Rather, it was due to this being the end of an era. Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond, which is– without a doubt– my favorite, comes to a close, and it’s been hard for me to see him go. I dragged myself to the theatre, sat in that chair, and was blown away. This movie stands out amongst the Bond franchise as well as on its own.
Bond is not the promiscuous unemotional caricature he has been in the past. Daniel Craig, since his first outing as Bond in 2006, has consistently brought a more realistic and human Bond, and I love it. In this movie, Bond feels so real. He has emotions, and he has a life. This makes the conflict of the movie more consequential because Bond finally feels alive. Since the beginning of the franchise in the 60s, Bond has been a static character, he doesn’t change and he doesn’t learn. Throughout the Craig series, he’s become rounded and in this one, he finally feels alive.
At the end of “Spectre,” the previous movie, Bond leaves with Léa Seydoux’s character, Madeleine. It would seem as though he’s finally found love, again, and that he’s actually trying to leave his past behind. However, while Bond is ready to forget, neither his past or Madeleine’s is willing to forget them. They both get dragged back into the world saving business and the stakes feel higher than ever.
Oscar-winner Rami Malek plays the movie’s main antagonist and while the movie fails to attach you to him, he does fit the super villain role well. A good antagonist is someone that the viewer can relate to, and I didn’t feel like I related at all. However, the character is so despicable I, unreasonably and unfairly, feel upset at Malek himself for portraying him.
Besides Craig and Seydoux, this movie sees some other returning faces: Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q, Rory Kinnear as Tanner, and, of course, Ralph Fiennes as M. Felix hasn’t been seen since “Quantum of Solace” and I was so excited to see him again. I think I may have actually been silently cheering when I saw him. They bring back the whole crew and they all bring their best. These actors’ emotional portrayal is, honestly, amazing. All of them feel real and grounded in their world, and it felt like I was watching real people’s struggles. I know Craig is done being Bond but it doesn’t affect his performance in the slightest. This may have been one of his best yet.
The music for this film is strong and of course it is, Hans Zimmer composed it. Zimmer is one of the most highly regarded film composers in the world and it’s clear as to why. He took two or three motifs and used them throughout the score. By doing this, he ties scenes together and adds to the emotion of the scenes. After watching the movie, I listened to the soundtrack alone, and I could tell what was happening because the music carried so much momentum and contained so much emotion. All the feelings I felt watching the movie, I felt again just by the story the score told alone.
One thing that I think most Bond movies hit really well is location and time, and this is no exception. The lighting and sets are amazing. They know exactly when to shoot in order to get that sunset just right, sun through fog, or night life in a city. That dedication to lighting is something I remember hearing about from “La La Land” and its sunset dance scene, and so, no surprise, these movies have the same cinematographer, Linus Sandgren. Sandgren is an Oscar-winning cinematographer and his dedication to his craft is admirable. The composition of each shot is thought through so thoroughly. The creativity behind these shots and the beauty in the establishing shots is, well, beautiful.
This entry into Craig’s series is one of, if not, the strongest. But it steps out of the standard routine which some may dislike. I, however, found the change to aid in what made a magnificent conclusion to this decade plus long run. That being said, it is a conclusion, and, as such, I cannot recommend anyone see this as their first Bond movie as it’s the culmination of the previous four, and won’t have the same meaning and impact. If you’re familiar with the predecessors, then I encourage you to go out at once; if you’re new to the franchise, start with “Casino Royale” and work your way through. It’s worth it.