This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
vanessa’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
All I wanted from No Time to Die was a satisfying ending to Bond’s Character arc over the past 15 years but what I got instead was so much more - so much better - than I could ever have imagined. Daniel Craig’s Bond movies weren’t always great or even good but No Time to Die does a beautiful job wrapping up the series and in a way doubles as the sequel to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that we never got. What makes it so good is that it understands that the story of Craig’s Bond is first and foremost a story of love and loss and the fact that it really leans into it and finally lets him experience happiness again is what makes it touching in a way no Bond movie since Casino Royale was.
Before getting into what makes No Time to Die so great that I could feel my brain melting in my head just some quick takes on the spy plot: In my opinion the story is a tad better than the previous movies because at least this time I didn’t forget what the villain was up to the second he wasn’t on screen anymore. At the same time especially when it comes to the villains No Time to Die is still incredibly lazy - bringing back Blofeld and still not managing to make such an iconic character even slightly interesting and Safin who is yet another disfigured villain so you know he’s bad even if you aren’t paying attention. I’m sure there would have been other ways to make him a more appealing opponent but instead the movie goes the same route as Skyfall and presents him as Bonds mirror - something that made sense before but isn’t really something you need to see multiple times.
It’s so funny to me that this is what the movie is about considering the Craig Bond movies were so afraid to get political that most of the time they either had a story that you’d forget while you were still watching it or referencing classic Bond movies and then for this one they came up with an incredibly outlandish plot at the worst time possible so that No Time to Die could almost be read as a COVID conspiracy theory if we didn’t know that movie was done long before.
Other spy stuff I enjoyed: Ana de Armas in a small role as an inexperienced but incredibly capable agent, Bond, Q and Moneypenny working together one last time, the fact that the villain finally had a nice lair again, the rivalry between Bond and Nomi, who is basically the character Moneypenny could have been if they hadn’t relegated her to being a secretary at the end of Skyfall.
I already wrote so much but it’s finally time to get into it, to talk about what I want to shout from the rooftops ever since I left the theater yesterday:
JAMES BOND IS A WIFE GUY!!
I always said what made Casino Royale so great isn’t the spy stuff but that it’s one of the greatest love stories of the 21st century and No Time to Die not only understands this but builds upon it. With the first scene focusing on Madeleine’s childhood instead of Bond it already establishes that this final outing isn’t just going to be about him.
The opening must be the longest in Bond history but it does a great job establishing how much the events of Casino Royale still affect Bond with him visiting Vesper’s tomb and after getting ambushed immediately breaking up with Madeleine, thinking that after finally trying to move on and allowing himself to fall in love again he got betrayed just like the last time.
5 years later they meet again and when he visits Madeleine at home and meets her daughter I almost lost my mind because Daniel Craig is so damn good at playing a wife guy and it’s so beautiful to see a character who has suffered so much over the course of 5 movies and just wanted to die most of the time finally show feelings again and come out of his shell. Just the fact that he realises that after all that happened to him, after everything he’s been through there’s still a chance to live a happy life and to have a family makes you root for him and wish him a happy ending. But just as in Casino Royale that’s what makes the movie so tragic because no matter what you just know that this character can never be happy for more than a few fleeting moments.
Ultimately this - Bond’s chance to live a happy life - not the possibility of all of humanity being wiped out is what finally raises the stakes high enough to make you care about the outcome of the movie. It was always clear that at the end of the current run Bond would have to die because it was the only outcome that would have made sense for the character but giving him something to live for and making him choose between dying or living a life without his loved ones makes it so much more tragic than if he had just died on a regular mission. Bond coming to the realisation that a life alone is not worth living and having to say goodbye to his family over the phone before getting nuked is just so so heartbreaking than the best ending he could have gotten.
Over the course of the past 5 movies Bond’s image as this perfect indestructible killing machine without any feelings, who never got attached and forgot the women he fucked the second he walked out of the room, has constantly been questioned and even if the quality of the movies was quite uneven, they ultimately not only showed an agent who struggled with his role in the MI6 but first and foremost a man who lost the woman he loved because of his own mistake and in succession his will to live and who ultimately had to learn how to love again to finally be happy only to lose everything in the end. It just rules so much!
Ultimately the biggest lesson to be learned from No Time to Die is that more action movies should be 3 hour movies about a guy who loves his wife. We really need more romantic wife guy action cinema because it’s the best!