No Time To Die (2021)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 10/10/21
Music: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Christoph Waltz, Lashana Lynch, Ana de Armas, Jeffrey Wright, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris

"History isn't kind to men who play God."

After disappearing at the end of "Spectre" (2015), James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) attempt to leave their troubles behind and pursue a romantic relationship. Unfortunately, SPECTRE shows up and attempts to kill Bond while making Swann appear to be an accomplice. SPECTRE makes another attempt to kill Bond in Cuba at Blofeld's (Christoph Waltz) birthday party, but he's spared by other forces at work. Meanwhile, a new super-weapon has fallen into the hands of evil mastermind Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), and MI6 and the CIA are both fighting to get their hands on it. Everything ultimately leads to a showdown between Bond and Safin, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Naturally, Bond saves the day, but at a terrible cost.

Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond is magnificent, and is easily the best film during his time in the role. It's a truly massive production of epic proportions, as well as a huge financial risk for the studio because Covid-19 kept the film from being released for well over a year. The film plays the nostalgia card pretty heavily and carries a lot of emotional weight. Numerous nods to "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969) can be found throughout, and the set design is reminiscent of Ken Adam's work on earlier Bond films. Hans Zimmer's score is bold and dramatic, and does an excellent job of incorporating classic themes into the mix. The action scenes are superb, although some of the fight scenes look a bit sloppy. Daniel Craig gives an intense and emotionally charged performance, but Rami Malek's generic megalomaniac villain is dull and uninteresting. The women in the film are fantastic, which is definitely a treat. Léa Seydoux is mesmerizing and gives an outstanding performance, while Lashana Lynch's Double-0 agent Nomi does an excellent job as Bond's partner, rival, and equal. Naomie Harris doesn't see much action as Moneypenny, but she continues to delight. However, it's Ana de Armas who ends up stealing the show as CIA agent Paloma. She is absolutely stunning, and it's unfortunate that her role is so small.

There is an undeniable note of finality to the film as it effectively brings the entire series to a close. Hearing Louis Armstrong's "We Have All The Time In The World" play over the closing credits adds an extra emotional punch and reminds us that all good things must come to an end. However, like all previous Bond films, the credits end with "James Bond will return," which is a curious and seemingly impossible statement indeed. It will be very interesting to see what direction they decide to go in next.