If Skyfall was The Dark Knight, then No Time To Die is The Dark Knight Rises
Our review of Craig's fifth and final 007 movie, arriving in Irish cinemas this week.
When Skyfall was released, in the midst of all of the plaudits, many pointed out that the big central hook of the movie's premise - a creepy villain getting caught on purpose for his overall explosive plan to work - was practically identical to that of The Dark Knight, which had arrived four years earlier.
Upon the arrival of No Time To Die, there was the sense that, knowing this was Craig's final outing, it might be Bond's answer to Avengers: Endgame.
Instead, much like The Dark Knight Rises, we start off with our hero living in self-imposed exile, only for the ghosts of his past to pull him back into the action. We've got a mask-wearing villain planning on eradicating a large portion of the population in an attempt do away with those he deems unworthy. A love interest we're not sure he can trust. There are great supporting characters from the previous outings who pop up for a single scene. The booming, ear-catching score by Hans Zimmer.
But mostly, No Time To Die matches Nolan's last Batman outing with its excessive length (the new Bond is just two minutes shy of Rises' 165 minute runtime), increased silliness clashing with a stone-faced tone, and overall never quite reaching the same giddy heights of entertainment as what has come before.
Kicking off with a scene straight out of a horror movie, we get a little bit more of Madeleine Swann's (Lea Seydoux) backstory, setting up some nice symmetry with Casino Royale, another woman that might break Bond's heart in a bad way.
Instead, she is mostly shunted off for most of the first half of the movie, as are most of the rest of the returning characters - M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) - as well as most of the new arrivals; new CIA agent Paloma (a scene-stealing Ana De Armas) and new MI6 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch).
Even some heavy hitters like Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) and Felix (Jeffrey Wright) only hang around for one or two scenes, while the movie's big bad, Safin (Rami Malek), does a greater job of being scary and imposing before properly arriving as the now-standard softly-spoken villain.
Director and co-writer Cary Joji Fukanaga decides to focus almost entirely on Bond himself, which makes a certain kind of sense when you're giving Craig his swansong in the role. But the gritty, emotional approach to the farewell to the character is at odds with the bonkers nature of the plot of the movie that he's been put in, which is all about nanobots and secret island layers and a villainous plot that, upon scrutiny, is barely explained and makes little to no sense.
Thankfully, Fukanaga keeps the action pumping for most of the runtime, including some fantastically muscular car chases and one stand-out, single-shot staircase scene that calls to mind the best sequence from Atomic Blonde.
By the end, it does feel like a fitting full stop to Craig's run as 007: exciting, gritty, messy, and over-the-top... but sometimes in the wrong ways.
No Time To Die is released in Irish cinemas from Thursday, 30 September.
Clip via Universal Ireland