brandonciccone’s review published on Letterboxd:
Casino Royale changed the series forever; Quantum of Solace was trashy, Skyfall is one of the best action movies, Spectre was a bore show, and No Time To Die, Daniel Craig's last outing of James Bond was great.
I remember back in 2012 when Skyfall came out. I had seen maybe a few Bond movies, but none of them resonated with me until I sat down and watched Skyfall. I thought it was brilliant from beginning to end, and it had my inner child captivated long after leaving the theater. I remember the feeling of watching Moneypenny taking the shot and seeing the supposed lifeless body of Bond as Adele's unique theme played. I vividly remember the build-up to the courtroom shootout. I remember the feeling of watching M die in James's arms and how menacing Silva was in that movie. After years of rewatching it, I was excited to see Spectre, and I left the theater a little less excited for the next.
No Time To Die is not a perfect film. It has its issues, but as someone who grew up with Craig in the role, it's easy to get past them. It's a very polarizing film and doesn't take a step back with its bold choices. It's risky but subverts expectations. I would say that waiting well over a year for this was worth that long wait. As usual, Daniel Craig throws himself in the role, bringing his best performance as Bond. Lea Seydoux is a stand-out after having an extremely average performance in Spectre. I think everyone gave excellent performances and did their best to ensure this was a good send off. Although she had a disappointingly short runtime, Ana De Armas was badass and added some necessary comedic relief. I also really wished that Moneypenny could've gotten more screentime. I think Lashana Lynch had the potential of overshadowing Bond, but I found her quite enjoyable. She was funny but was also strict and got her mission done. Her character could have been a lazy attempt to be woke, but it did not come off that way.
Cary Joji Fukunaga's action scenes are absolutely stunning. He knows where the camera needs to be pointing at all times. The opening was one of the best sequences in the movie, and his directing reassures me of that. It doesn't beat the opening of Skyfall, but it's still thrilling and a great start to a great movie. You cannot mention the directing without mentioning the striking cinematography. Every shot feels so visually distinct from the other. One fight scene, in particular, reminds me of the stairwell fight scene from Casino Royale. Comparing the action scenes here to something like this year's Black Widow, you can see the difference in quality. Whenever Hans Zimmer is attached to any production, I might as well not talk about him. His score doesn't change the 007 theme but adds a lot, and he knows where the theme should be at all times. His music draws out so much emotion.
I thought that the nearly 3-hour runtime could be a problem (thinking about when Avengers: Endgame had that issue), but the pacing still felt tight even when it slowed down. It has that certain quality where it can slow down and speed up with no interference. No time feels wasted. I do have some issues with the film, one being the villain. It's almost not fair to Rami Malek because he had a lot to live up to. He was undoubtedly more menacing than Blofeld, but he wasn't nearly as good as Le Chiffre and Silva. This is a problem because he was supposed to be the boss level Bond villain. His opening in the flashback scene is relentless, but the movie forgets about him until the end. His other scenes didn't make me scared of him. If anything, he's incredibly underused for the performance he delivers. It's like watching the Joker in The Dark Knight and then watching Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. It's hard to live up to something like that.
A minor nitpick could go to some unnecessary humor, but it isn't that bad if you compare it to a Marvel movie. It has a lot of homages to past Bond flicks with some cheesy lines (Bond says early in the film to Madeline that they have all the time in the world), but they are most welcome. The ending will piss off some people, but I thought it was a great ending. No Time To Die was surprisingly emotional many times, and the film worked for me. I am biased with my love and nostalgia for Daniel Craig and his run as James Bond, but it was pretty awesome for something that concluded a part childhood.