Dec’s review published on Letterboxd:
It’s just a number.
Not sure how to begin with this spoiler free review, I grew up watching Craig’s run, I can’t believe this is his final film. I’m glad they made one more film, they could of ended it with Spectre as it very much has a ride into the sunset type of ending but No Time to Die is a stronger film to end on.
The trailers have done a good job of not spoiling everything. The runtime is justified since there’s 20 minutes before you get to the opening credits! Casino Royale and Skyfall are my favourite intros still but never the less it’s a good start to the film. The opening credits are creative and experimental; it has a lot of nice callbacks to previous opening credits. I prefer Billie Eilish’s song very much compared to Sam Smiths.
Cary Joji Fukunaga really impressed me with this film, he’s done the impossible and made Bond a three dimensional character. It’s well shot, there’s some great transitions and visual storytelling, not once did you need to be told where you were in the story. I didn’t go into this expecting much, it’s not perfect but it’s better than Spectre & Quantum. It’s excellently paced, you don’t feel the runtime at all. It’s a pretty looking film shot by La La Land cinematographer Linus Sandgren, the locations are beautifully presented from Italy to Jamaica to Norway. There’s a lot of nice lighting on the actors and environments, there’s a warmth in the daytime scenes and a cool, chill temperature to the nighttime scenes.
The story wastes no time in getting to it, it’s a bond film, there’s a villain, gadgets but this time they’ve tried to go for an emotional core to the story. It very much is a love letter to Dr No, as it’s the end of Craig’s saga I like how we’ve come full circle. There’s a bit for everyone in this, every character feels like they are utilised in the story plus there are connections to the previous films.
You can definitely see Phoebe Waller Bridge’s impact on the script due to the comedy, sharp dialogue and all the women having more to do than usual. It’s not woke or trying to be a feministic film, it’s just Bond as a franchise has evolved and this is further evolving, the Craig films have done so much for the franchise and the character, giving him depth.
This is the most emotional and vulnerable Bond has ever been. Daniel Craig has really outdone himself here, he brings out the emotion, humour and this humanistic side out so well, it’s his best performance as 007 and you can tell he really liked making this one. Always enjoyed Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Ralph Viennes as M. Lea Seydoux returns as Madelaine (first time a bond girl has ever returned) and nails her emotional scenes, her character gets more backstory this time. Ana De Armas is an exciting, bubbly, young agent called Paloma who is badass but very fun, nice to see her reuniting with Craig after Knives Out. Lashana Lynch as Nomi aka 007 is very cool, I loved her and wanted to see more of her, I’d watch a spin off film following her character.
Rami Malek gave a good enough performance as Lyutsifer Safin, he’s quite a powerful villain. I liked how he was created, he wasn’t bad but he’s not utilised enough and barely has any screen time, don’t expect to see a lot of him. Christoph Waltz returns as Blofeld, he seems to be having more fun this time and his scene is good. There’s an additional small right hand man too which I will leave at that.
Hans Zimmer’s score I definitely heard it (loud) I liked it, similar to a Chris Nolan soundtrack, it’s the love child of Inception, MW2 & The Dark Knight. The action is good enough, there’s about 4 action scenes all quite different, it’s brought back the brutality from Casino Royale. It didn’t feel as action driven but more character driven. The story feels strangely relevant to whats happening now with Coronavirus, it’s pure coincidence. I was getting The Dark Knight Rises vibes with this film, from the production design to the dynamic duos in this film reminiscent of Batman and Catwoman in Banes lair.
Casino Royale and Skyfall remain the best in this run, followed by No Time to Die. It gives you everything, drama, romance, suspense, comedy and spectacle. It’s not perfect, I have my issues with some of the comedy, the villain, the ending and it feeling a little anticlimactic but they stuck the landing. I felt it tied up loose ends and gave closure, this is the best finale for a Bond actor and quite possibly the most moving Bond film.
Fun facts: Third James Bond film starring Daniel Craig as James Bond with a motor-bike chase sequence and car chase sequence in Italy. Second Bond film to feature Jamaica since Dr No. Most expensive Bond film ever with a budget of 250 million.