Greetings again from the darkness. Bond 25 is here, and it’s quite a curtain call for actor Daniel Craig. The film’s release has been postponed numerous times since September 2019, which has caused expectations and anxiety to build amongst Bond fans. It’s been almost six years since SPECTRE (2015), and this is Daniel Craig’s fifth and final turn as 007. This production faced challenges even before the pandemic hit. Cary Joji Fukunaga (best known for “True Detective” and BEASTS OF NO NATION, 2015) was hired to direct after Danny Boyle stepped down (or whatever happened), and Phoebe Waller-Bridge was brought in to spice up the dialogue on the script from Fukunaga, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade (the latter two having been involved in writing all five Bond movies for Craig). Of course, it’s Ian Fleming to whom we stand eternally grateful for the original characters.
For those accustomed to the James Bond cinematic formula, you’ll notice quite a few differences – beginning with the opening scenes. Traditionally, breathtaking action kicks off the film; but this time a shift in tone and style serves up a tension-filled opening that occurs a few years prior to the rest of the story. It takes a few minutes before we get the first true action sequence. Of course, we must keep in mind that we are dealing with a “retired” James Bond (don’t worry, it’s not like “fat Thor”) … in fact, there’s already a replacement 007 and she (Lashana Lynch, CAPTAIN MARVEL, 2019) packs quite an attitude and skill set.
It’s his old CIA buddy, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who draws Bond back into the espionage game, and of course, the reason is to save the world (what else could it be?). This year’s world-domination-seeking villain is the cleverly named Lyutsifer Safin, and he’s played by Oscar winner Rami Malek (BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, 2018). Safin is a low-key baddie whose weapon is a DNA-altering chemical that’s probably a bit overly complex for a Bond movie, and it’s also a bit strange that Safin/Malek only has a few substantive scenes. For those who saw SPECTRE, you’ll recognize many of the faces, including Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann, Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Rory Kinnear as Tanner, and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny. Also back for a terrific scene is Oscar winner Christoph Waltz as Blofield. The new faces include the aforementioned Lashana Lynch as Nomi, Billy Magnusson as Logan Ash, and Craig’s KNIVES OUT co-star Ana de Armas as Paloma. Ms. de Armas brings a jolt of energy and some smiles to the proceedings, and it’s a shame her appearance is so short.
It’s unusual for a Bond song to win its Grammy before the movie is ever released, but that’s exactly what happened for Billie Eilish’s achingly somber title song. Oscar winner Hans Zimmer (THE LION KIING) delivers a wonderful score in his first Bond outing (you’ll hear how he incorporates the Eilish song), and the cinematography from Oscar winner Linus Sandgren (LA LA LAND) is everything we could hope for in the action sequences (there is no shortage of bombs), as well as the quiet moments.
Speaking of the quiet moments, this is undoubtedly the most sentimental and emotional of all Bond films. Sure, we get the amazing set pieces, the crazy stunts, the awesome Aston Martin (until it isn’t), the cool gadgets, the wisecracks, and the shootouts – but we also get Bond at his most reflective and personal. There is a line in the film, “Letting go is hard.” And it is … both for Bond and for us. So welcome back and adieu, Mr. Bond. Craig. Daniel Craig.
The film opens in U.S. theaters on October 8, 2021
It goes without saying that I, and everyone I know, will go see this movie. I’ve had to turn down an offer to go see it last Friday because of issues with my eyes (they’re getting much better now). It pained me to have to turn that down, a gift I hated to say no to, but my friends understood. As your review pointed out, the angst and expectation from two years of… ‘Not yet, but soon!’ feelings have taken their toll, but not at the detriment of wanting and needing to see the movie. Your conclusion has given me hope, the kind I now know will help me enjoy ‘No Time to Die’ for all the reasons one can enjoy a good movie. Have a great week David.
Ray, I do hope your eyes are better. This Bond has a different tone than the others, but I’m a fan. Have enjoyed Daniel Craig’s take, and look forward to the next approach. Be well.
Now that I have seen to movie, I couldn’t agree with you more about it being sentimental and emotional, and Bond being more reflective and personal. I’m glad I didn’t read other reviews (ones with too many spoilers) and glad my friends also did not reveal what would have robbed me from the surprises this last Bond had in store. I think you know which little one I mean. Thank you for that. The ending song selection, the one by Louis Armstrong, was a very nice touch, and made it even more touching. Have a wonderful week-end David and hope this Veterans Day (Remembrance Day in Canada) isn’t too sad. p.s. My dad was a Korean War US Vet who made it out without a scratch, at least no external ones, and it’s a day that always makes me ponder.
I’m sure you are proud of your dad, and you should be!