“Everyone has their secrets. We just didn’t get to yours yet.”
Story: James Bond has retired. And damn if he doesn’t have the most beautiful house in Jamaica. So when CIA poo-bah Felix Leiter comes calling, asking for help? It better be something really important to pull Bond away from top shelf hootch and thousand count thread sheets. The fate of the entire world would do it, I think. Pity MI6 doesn’t want Bond anywhere near Felix’s mission…
Genre I’d put it in: Thrillers. Spy Thrillers.
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on the Ian Flemming novels, and part of the whole James Bond film thang.
Gotta say: Three hours. THREE. HOURS. (Fine. Two hours and forty five minutes.) I want to get that out there before I start, so you can fully understand my blathering. Because I completely and totally enjoyed the hell out of this movie. Every minute. Typically, here’s the point where I’d say something about how judicious editing could help the story, blah blah. But with Die? Nope. Not a second was wasted. Viewers get gorgeous wide shots, pulse-pounding action, intriguing story progression…and sometimes all three at once. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga knows how to juggle all the cinemating things – witness his excellent work on Beasts of No Nation – and in this film I was absolutely shocked at how the time slipped by. Did I groan when I found out how long this bugger is? You bet. Did I give even a single damn as the credits rolled? Absolutely not.
Yes, the cinematography is beautiful, and I spent lots of time ogling all that scenery. But the story feels like…okay I’m gonna go all film school nerd and say it feels like a ballet of plots and subplots, all weaving in and out, coming together to form an incredible whole. Yeah I’m a simp, but that’s exactly what it feels like. There’s Bond working with Felix, the gang over at MI6 (M, Q, Moneypenny, and a brand-new “00” that is nobody to mess with), Spectre, Blofeld (even in prison he’s formidable), the usual beautiful women who are equal parts gorgeous and dangerous, genetic tinkering, and much more. I’ll admit it took me a moment or three to wrap my head around it all, but once I got into the groove? I was all in. Heck, the pre-credits scene in and of itself could be its own film. (Think Too Fast 007 Furious.) But that wouldn’t be a Bond film; we need all the things, all the time. Add in the fact that this is Daniel Craig’s farewell performance as 007, and it’s no wonder things are so bombastically epic.
And Craig is just as charismatic as ever here. He grabs your attention the moment he comes on screen, and keeps you riveted ’til his final shot. Craig has managed to infuse this Bond with an undercurrent of despair and deep connection to those in his inner circle, which makes his Bond interesting as hell. I wanted to know what he’d do next, and how he’d do it. Because I knew that he’d do whatever it took to keep those around him safe, while laying the maximum smackdown onto any Big Bad who dared come for them. Yeah, some have said those Bads aren’t as bombastic as the Connery crew, but I’m okay with that. Razor top hats? Groovy, but comic-book stuff. Give me something couched in real world possibilities, and I’ll have a chill down my back.
As for the rest of the crew? Well, we know most of them from earlier Craig-Bond films, and they’re just as much fun as they were then. (And Q has a Devon Rex? Does he need a petsitter? Please???) As this cast is probably saying goodbye along with Craig – they do tend to get recast when a new Bond gets tapped – they look like they’re having a blast, and know this is their 00Finale. Bravo to all. Special shot-out to Ana de Armas as Paloma, a woman Bond meets up with in Cuba. Paloma is a certified badass, and I would have loved to have seen this character pop into a few more films. As for Bond’s love interest du jour? Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann gets to ride an emotional roller coaster, and does an admirable job, especially next to the typically stoic Bond.
Bond fans will be flocking to the theater, or however they’re choosing to watch nowadays. But as a gal who’s never really been a big Bond fan ’til Craig’s Casino Royale? I say give this a watch. It’s a whole lot of fun, with all the slam-bang you could hope for, and then some. Just maybe hold on that extra-large soda if you’re at the multi-plex. Your bladder will thank you.
#Protip: The combination of Billie Eilish and James Bond makes for a fantastic opening song. Whoever tapped Eilish for this film needs to get a salary bump-up.