James Bryan’s review published on Letterboxd:
My first experience with a cinema in around two years, No Time to Die is a film in a certain category of which I believe is and has been a plague of sorts to contemporary cinema: painful mediocrity. As a film, it is decent, certainly amongst other Bond films which receive notoriously poor criticism. However, it simply leaves a great deal to be desired.
The screenplay seems very confused. There are a lot of plot elements here, some of which don't come to fruition or don't bring about much coherence or satisfaction. For one, the idea of phasing out Daniel Craig in favour of a new 007 wasn't executed particularly well - and this is more or less the main plot element. There's no real reason given for the audience to care about his new replacement. She's rude, and certainly isn't better at her job than Bond. This was an opportunity to create a dynamic of the hardened but ultimately aged and ineffective veteran being confronted with a new generation. Instead, they're kind of just tongue and cheek semi-partners.
And then there's the villain. There's no real way around it; he's poor. He wants to destroy the world by infecting everyone with a virus through nano bots, but the motivation for such action just doesn't exist. Fukunaga tries to feign some sort of motivation with Madeleine Swan's father killing his entire family, but it's not particularly relevant and his justifications just come off as more incoherent ramblings than anything else. Malek does have to work with some fairly poor lines here. Much of what he does throughout the plot makes such little sense. Certain things which happen seem only to be hollow attempts at building some sort of narrative aesthetic around him, with it all just coming off as strange.
In regards to the events of the film itself, there is a very good phrase to describe it: too fucking much. There is so much action, and even if much of it is good, contextually, the action is never climactic, but insubstantial - a bridge to another bridge. Certain events of the film seem to be more displays of the budget or attempts at melodrama to stretch the plot than anything else. And all of this is stretched over one-hundred and sixty-three minutes. A film such as this should never be nearly three hours. It shouldn't really be extending that far past one-hundred and twenty minutes to be honest. But these insubstantial events, not to mention that much of what happens isn't particularly logical in the long run, over such an unnecessarily long runtime make this at times a numbing experience.
No Time to Die's screenplay is serviceable, perhaps verging on being poor, but it ultimately does what it needs to do. And there are genuine moments of investment, and despite the flaws I have pointed out, the screenplay as a whole is acceptable. It's simply the fact that there is an overly confusing and excessive application of what should really just be a fun and intense action film that brings it down.
The cinematography in No Time to Die is naturally good. An air of coolness is created through the mise en scène, and the usage of framing, size, angle and movement is good. And some interesting concepts are created. I don't really think that the cinematography is very consistent, having more competent shooting with some cool cinematographical concepts than consistently good shooting, and there can at times be a compromise of effect for coolness but it still manages to capture the essence of the Bond film, feeling effortless and suave. In particular, some really great cinematography is present in the action scenes. More or less what you would hope to expect from a Bond film.
The editing is of a similar nature to the cinematography. It is competent. Obviously, it's stylised approach shines more in the action sequences, but overall it is applied decently well. There is a case to be made for overindulgence in stylised editing, but it doesn't really play as a detriment.
The sound is good, one the best elements of film overall. It's applied and manipulated well to scenes and the score is good. Not too much else to say.
The acting is proabably the best quality of the film. Daniel Craig, who is almost unanimously considered the best Bond, gives another truly great performance. Rami Malek, I'm not entirely convinced off, partly on account of the terrible dialogue he at times has to work with. Though more or less every performance is a good one.
I said it at the beginning of the review, but No Time to Die is an irritating film, because it obviously has the potential to be far better but just isn't. Serviceable films tend to be more tedious than bad films, because there usually remains a nothingness in mediocrity. Still, at it's core, No Time to Die is still a fun, relatively compelling instalment in the Bond series, and it still succeeds in its attempts to just be enjoyable.