By JAVIER DOSAMANTES
“No Time to Die ” is a great installment in the James Bond franchise and an awesome action movie — worth watching in theaters — but will make a great viewing when it hits a streaming service.
It didn’t redefine the franchise like “Casino Royale,” and it’s not as ambitious or stylish as “Skyfall.” But it is wildly entertaining and is elevated to a more elegant popcorn movie because of the amazing directing, acting and score.
Cary Joji Fukunaga, best known for directing the first season of “True Detective” — the dark HBO miniseries — gave this lighter screenplay a twist.
His timing on when to inject comedic and cheesy moments gives the movie a blockbuster feel, and his beautifully shot action sequences pair perfectly with Daniel Craig’s gritty incarnation of Bond.
The cold opening is gorgeously shot, and if you ever played “GoldenEye: 007” on N64, there’s a sequence toward the end of the movie that will make you feel as tense as you did when an alarm went off, and all the bad guys came in like an avalanche.
“No Time to Die” is Craig’s fifth and final film as Bond. He is obviously the protagonist and centerpiece — but to enhance the feeling of finality — the rest of the characters and story are used just as guests in his farewell party.
No other character shines the spotlight away from Bond or tries to take his place. Their purpose is to tell jokes, have some drinks, reminisce, make a few new memories and say goodbye to Mr. Bond as he leaves on his own terms.
Two nitpicks I do have with the supporting cast is that Craig and Léa Seydoux (Madeleine) continue to have zero on-screen chemistry. And Ana de Armas (Paloma) should’ve been used more — she had very little screen time but was one of the most memorable characters.
I won’t go into any details about the plot, not only because of spoilers, but I feel that this movie should be experienced as a series season finale.
Surprises, homages, closure and callbacks are better enjoyed without a heads up. And Hans Zimmer’s score does a superb job at guiding you through the emotions the movie wants to evoke.
Many critics and pundits said all along that the only movie to watch before this one was “Spectre,” but that’s not totally true.
Craig’s Bond series follows a straight line story arc, and after binging the first four movies to prepare for this one, I was able to enjoy the farewell party for what it was: a fun, nostalgic and entertaining time before saying goodbye to one of the greatest Bonds in the franchise’s history.
Fukunaga delivered a Bond movie through and through — despite having to basically play a high-stakes movie directing version of “Chopped” when he agreed to take on this project.
With an iconic franchise like Bond, and after some of the groundbreaking films that this series gave us, it’s hard not to ask for the best every single time. Or to be fascinated by everything that happens behind the scenes.
Movies, especially of this magnitude, come with enormous pressure and challenges. And there’s plenty to read about the challenges and drama this production had to deal with, sometimes self-inflicted and other times because of powers beyond their control.
I would hate to be the buzzkill in a farewell party. Instead, I would rather celebrate Craig’s run as Bond and put it in perspective.
When the Jason Bourne movies came out, it was a game-changer for all action and spy films. Bond could not go back to even the Pierce Brosnan era — Bond was the spy in movie lore — and Bourne made Bond look like a corny, old-timey spy with no edge or grit.
But with a stylish and violent black-and-white cold opening in “Casino Royale,” Craig announced the new archetype for the character, and carved out his place in movie history as arguably the best Bond ever.
Credit to the franchise’s gatekeepers for the decisions to cast Craig and later choose Sam Mendes to direct “Skyfall.” Although they never got the formula right to maintain the same quality through five films — something that’s virtually impossible — they pushed the right buttons and gave an archaic character new life.
Whoever takes up the mantle as the next 007 will be under a microscope and might not be able to don the tuxedo as well as Craig. But if you’re a fan of the franchise or spy movies, worry about the future later and enjoy “No Time to Die” for what it is: a great farewell party, that’s it … nothing less and nothing more.