12. No Time To Die (2021)
The much-anticipated and delayed release of No Time To Die, Daniel Craig’s last 007 movie (and, arguably, his most divisive), is a nearly three-hour emotional epic that goes through a checklist of “what if…” scenarios that the creatives would like to see this iteration of Bond deal with before he signs off. The intimate, character-first approach the filmmakers give this mostly satisfying wish list comes with a sense of scale that rivals most of what has come before in the Bond canon.
Executed with a confident and inventive visual flare, No Time To Die reintroduces a very retired (and very haunted) Bond back into service. The closer Bond gets to his target, the more dangerous his final mission becomes, and the more Bond’s fate and that of the world are tragically braided together in an explosive, if somewhat disappointing and unearned, tragic finale. But along the way, we get to see flourishes in Craig’s performance that have never been seen before, as he seemingly explores all the remaining sides of the iconic spy that his historic tenure in the role had left unrealized. It’s a lively and vulnerable performance, with Craig committing fully to every scene. Rami Malek’s villain is “okay,” neither terrible nor outstanding, but he is memorable as being the only baddie to take Bond down without the use of some elaborate torture device. (It’s ironic that after almost 60 years in the spy game, it’s not being keel-hauled or bisected by a laser that does 007 in, but rather a few lucky shots from a handgun).
That “controversial” ending feels both bittersweet and undercooked, but never not daring—which seems to be No Time To Die‘s MO It leaves no stone unturned in its full-throttle effort to give Craig a proper (and, at times, hilarious) sendoff, one that is both full of Bond iconography and refreshing, outside-the-box moments that reinforce how special Craig’s time in the tux truly was. (Phil Pirello)