The Craig era of Bond movies has been unique. While Timothy Dalton was the first to try a more grounded take, and Pierce Brosnan had some experimentation with the villains, Daniel Craig was the first Bond to truly take bold swings.
The first movie, “Casino Royale” was a gritty reboot in a similar vein to “Batman Begins.” We see the origins of Bond allowing him to have a real character arc, but also allowing him to be more realistic. It’s no longer about goofy gadgets but more realistic suspense, feeling more Hitchcock than the entries made during the Hitchcock era. It was a gamble due to being so different, but it was a gamble that paid off, being the most successful Bond movie and widely regarded as the best.
“Quantum of Solace” followed this up by being the first Bond entry to be a direct sequel continuing his character arc. While considerably less popular critically, this entry was also a major success.
“Skyfall,” the biggest success of the Bond series both financially and critically, took a new direction with an older Bond. It tried to deconstruct the series and examine it meta-contextually similar to the later entries in the Nolan Batman trilogy. This allowed him to have another arc as well as put more focus on Bond’s supporting cast.
“Spectre” tried to merge the two halves of Bond, the new gritty nature and the more goofy action spectacle of earlier entries. This one reintroduced Bond’s most iconic villain, tied all the entries of the previous Craig Bond movies into one continuous narrative and had Bond finally settle down. “Spectre” took some notes from the MCU by having the lore and narrative of the previous movies culminate together but was unfortunately much more poorly received than “Skyfall.”
“No Time to Die” is basically the perfect culmination of the best aspects of Bond up to this point. This entry retains the aspects of the Craig era I like but does away with the annoying meta commentary and just embraces the series. “Skyfall” and “Spectre” both felt the need to discuss 007’s place in the world as a veiled metaphor for his space in the filmmaking landscape, but it felt tired to do it twice in a row and was an oddly confusing metaphor considering the series had gotten a second wind with Craig and was more popular than it ever was in the past. “No Time to Die” feels like the entry to finally inject that classic Bond spirit.
The classic element I’m especially glad was brought back is the gadgets. That, in addition to the filmmaking, finally gave Bond an action spectacle to rival “Mission Impossible.”As for the Bond theme and title sequence, they were incredibly strong and a definite step up from “Spectre.” It sounded nice and had some striking imagery. I wouldn’t say it was as catchy as “Skyfall” or “Casino Royale,” but Billie Eilish does well enough vocally to match the likes of Adele and Chris Cornell respectively.
This movie doesn’t feel like it’s the strongest Bond movie in any particular aspect, but it’s got one of the most perfect balances between the dark and campy sides of Bond since “The Living Daylights.”
The new characters are great, Paloma might be one of the best Bond girls and the new 007 got a solid dynamic with Bond. There was some controversy due to a new character taking the 007 helm, even more given she was a woman of color, but I thought the character worked really well for the story. I also really like Felix’s character in this one and think it was a marked improvement from the already great job Jeffrey Wright did in the previous films. Ralph Fiennes also does a great job as M, a significant improvement from “Spectre.” The villain was not as good as some previous ones: he serves his role in this movie well but doesn’t do anything to stand out. Rami Malek’s performance is fine but nothing to write home about.
Despite being the longest Bond movie, “No Time to Die” is one of the best paced. Other Bond movies are usually about two hours and I often feel they could have at least 10 minutes cut out. This movie could also trim off a few minutes but considering how much longer it is than usual, I’d say it’s a feat that its length annoys me about as much as any other Bond movie does.
This might be the perfect Bond movie if you like everything the series has to offer. It’s at least the perfect send-off granted it’s the only official/planned send off. “Casino Royale” is still my favorite as it tried something new and really nailed it, but as a celebration of the series this is great and doesn’t feel too fanservicey. Overall, this is on the upper end of Bond films and will likely be one of my favorites, giving it a rating of four out of five.