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.

KNIVES OUT (2019)

An old-school whodunnit with modern sensibilities and an A-Grade cast.

Twin lead performances from Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig are equal parts charming, hilarious and empathetic, anchoring a great ride, makes you wonder why this sort of film seems to have fallen out of vogue for the last… what? 20 years? Whenever THE USUAL SUSPECTS came out.

<a google visit later> (It was 1995).

Clearly, any major discussion is spoilerific, but just know that it’s a smart, well executed mystery full of solid performances, plenty of humour and deftly handled class culture undertones.

I was expecting two or three extra twists come the end, but I’m not going to hold that against it.

Recommended!

SIDE NOTE: I’m going to try and add an illustration to each review to spruce things up around here going forward, the complexity and style of which will probably be utterly random. Enjoy!