No Time to Die

No Time to Die ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

James Bond is dead, and I can't think of a better way to send this particular incarnation off than by giving him a family and ripping them away from him at the very last, shockingly cruel twist of fate. It's so fitting that a 007 film denies to fall into the melodramatic tearjerker scenes after a major character's death; even with its adaptability to modern cinematic trends, there's an incorrigible stubbornness to these old movies. That's why I love them. After the hero's demise, it's a short toast to the fallen agent by the (small) merry band of MI6 regulars and then it's back to work. The mourning lover and daughter drive on with the sunset behind them. Somehow, this makes the reality even more sad. 007 will move on, James Bond will move on with other faces and other adventures, but this small pocket of continuity from Casino Royale to this has met a definitive end. Oh, I will miss it so.

No Time to Die is the sublime sun-drenched exquisite extravaganza that we thought we'd never get from the ongoing trend of gritty realism, toned-down filters and serious seriousness. No, this film knows it's a bombastic shock to the senses and it delivers. The vibrant colors, the madcap plot, the tries-to-be-hammy villain (well, at least Rami Malek tries with what little material is given to him...) — it's the Bond movie we needed after Skyfall, maybe even after Quantum of Solace. Daniel Craig gets to show all the emotions his character can muster, from joy to serenity to intense sadness and fear. It also helps that he and Lea Seydoux actually have romantic chemistry in this one, which is a relief because their relationship is what the entire picture hinges on. The other marketed characters are certainly present, but I wouldn't say they left a lasting impression (except for Q, he's a darling).

What can I say, I can confidently say this is one of my favorite Bond flicks now. It's not afraid to homage the past (the love letter to Maurice Binder's work that is the title sequence with Billie Eilish's wonderful track, the well-designed/crafted villain lair) and flip off every single naysayer of these movies that say Bond flicks can't have emotional weight (by actually, actually killing him off) at the same time. More than anything, it's a welcome sign to me that Eon Productions hasn't forgotten how to have fun with 007. I mean, the overall film's pretty high-stakes and somber, but No Time to Die's leagues above others of its era in terms of pure warmth and occasional happy-go-lucky charm, not to mention a real heart at the center of our stoic hero. I'm an emotional wreck right now. In the end, James, I wasn't ready to let you go.

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