NO TIME TO DIE (2021)

Flat.

Some beautiful shots that prop up a meandering narrative that’s a full hour too long, without any really distinct thrills of its own in a franchise that usually defines itself by unique thrills. There’s no memorable sequence that compares to anything from Casino Royale through Skyfall. There’s nothing here that holds a candle to the more recent Mission Impossible films.

And that’s the problem, really. Skyfall felt like a very natural conclusion to Craig’s James Bond, but now we have another film having to re-tie things up, unfortunately now including loose threads from the terrible Spectre. It feels anticlimactic and played out, especially since we kind of already did this dance already, and better.

The highlight is a brief Knives Out reunion with Ana de Armas, who blusters in to kick ass and be absurdly charming for about 15min before vanishing from the film entirely.

All the classic Bond tropes are present: a gadget car, a transforming vehicle, a fancy trick watch, a henchman with a gimmick, a villain with a visual hook, a stylish island lair, and a monstrous global plot.

But it keeps forgetting to have fun and just be a Bond movie, rather choosing to focus on lackluster relationships with Léa Sedoux and Christoph Waltz. It’s making the same mistake as Spectre of trying to force engagement by tying things together retroactively, but that’s not what a Bond film is meant to be.

The fourth best Craig Bond film, or the second worst depending on your perspective.

MOONRAKER (1979)

Of all the Bond films, this is probably the series at its most absolutely ridiculous and is all the more hilarious and charming for it.

It’s got it all! Casual sexism, bad green screen, a laser battle, hot astronauts, a guy popping out of a coffin in a gondola throwing knives only to be killed by his own knives, a doomsday/repopulation plot, terrifying clowns, another gondola that transforms into a hovercraft that causes a pigeon to do a double-take…

Seriously, if you want to settle in with a bottle of wine and be wildly entertained for two hours, get on it.

Casual observation: I wonder how much Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister draws from the mannerisms and tone of Hugo Drax? Actor Michael Lonsdale even bears more than a passing resemblance, it’s uncanny.