007 James Bond: No Time to Die

Epic! Everything you want in a James Bond movie!! Treat yourself to the premium format in your cinema for the final chapter in Daniel Craig’s Bond saga. With gripping action and ample espionage, No Time to Die is a wildly entertaining throwback in the vein of Golden Eye, but even better! Return to the Cold War era espionage in which the Russians are the baddies and operating out of secret bunkers, vodka martinis are shaken not stirred, the one-liners, and the Aston Martin has machine-gun headlights. Oh–yeah there is a song by Billie Eilish, but enough said about that. From sweeping establishing shots of exotic destinations far and wide to intimate character moments, the camera paints a beautiful portrait of Craig’s sendoff as our Bond for the last fifteen years.

Recruited to rescue a kidnapped scientist, globe-trotting spy James Bond finds himself hot on the trail of a mysterious villain, who’s armed with a dangerous new technology.

Is the plot melodramatic? Of course, but aren’t most of these movies??? Even though the plot is motivating the actions of the characters more than the internal needs and desires of the characters, there is a great relationship between the action plot and emotional drives. The film is larger than life, but never campy or goes to ridiculous proportions that take you out of the story. All the foundational elements that make a Bond movie a Bond movie are here, and will hook you from beginning to end. This final chapter in Craig’s journey as 007: James Bond is handled with immense care, and serves up all the touchstones that will tug at your emotions. Don’t wait for this to be on-demand, you want to see this on the biggest screen, in the best format possible in your area for the full cinematic experience. No Time to Die is a perfect blend of the best of the Connery, Brosnan, and Craig years, all wrapped up into one outstanding chapter in the franchise that has been entertaining us for over fifty years.

While I feel that Skyfall still has slightly more rewatchability and is the better film. No Time to Die is a close second to it, and was just as enjoyable as Golden Eye. Many consider Golden Eye to be among the best Bond films because of the classical approach to Bond it takes, yet delivers a story that is familiar and fresh simultaneously. Yes, the Brosnan Bonds go downhill from there (except Tomorrow Never Dies is a solid installment), but Golden Eye reintroduced a new generation to the character of 007: James Bond and everyone’s favorite Agent M, Dame Judi Dench (and she makes a cameo in this film–in the form of a portrait, but still). I appreciate when franchises retain the foundation of what made the original great, but build a new structure. And that is what we have here, hence why it checks all the boxes that you want in a 007 movie. These homages to classic Bond in no way feel campy, but rather feel like an old familiar blanket that you can wrap yourself in to feel comforted.

Of everything the film did incredibly well, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention that the plotting is a little on the weak side. Although you won’t feel lost, there are times that you will find yourself a little confused as to all the relationships between characters and how the sequence of events unfolds. We aren’t talking TENET confusing, but it is a little muddled in places where it feels like there was a transitional scene that got cut out as the theatrical release was being assembled.

Despite the mostly melodramatic plot, there are some great character moments that help to setup how a character may be used in the future or just a little more about their personal life that helps them to be more relatable and believable. While we do not know who our next James Bond will be, we may have been given a hint as to the characters that will be included in future installments. And for anyone that is worried that future 007 movies will not have James Bond, without detracting away from the present story, this film lays the groundwork that 007 is a designation and James Bond is the name of a real person. Furthermore, the studio is searching for the next James Bond next year, so James Bond isn’t going anywhere. That said, we do have a fantastic supporting character that will surely make a great spy for MI6 in the future, regardless of her designation. But I won’t get into details, because it is slightly spoiler-ish.

Do yourself a favor and watch 007: No Time to Die on the biggest screen and most premium format you can find in a cinema near you. It’s a BIG SCREEN adventure that deserves to be watched on the big screen.

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Ryan teaches American and World Cinema at the University of Tampa. If you like this article, check out the others and FOLLOW this blog! Interested in Ryan making a guest appearance on your podcast or contributing to your website? Send him a DM on Twitter or email him at RLTerry1@gmail.com! If you’re ever in Tampa or Orlando, feel free to catch a movie with him.

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“Red Sparrow” film review

Intense. Riveting. Spine-tingling, A masterful spy thriller crafted in a classical fashion with sex appeal. Red Sparrow will harness your full attention from the opening. Directed by Francis Lawrence, this spy movie is the level of excitement that 2015’s Bridge of Spies wished it was. Whereas many espionage movies fail to develop a plot that keeps you guessing from beginning to end–allowing you to feel like a covert operative or detective–this film delivers a mesmerizing story filled with intriguing characters and close calls. In many ways, this film contains elements that could be likened to a Hitchcockian suspense thriller with influences from Billy Wilder and David Fincher. Jennifer Lawrence displays an uncanny performance that truly shows the versatility of the Oscar-winning actress. With tensions rising between the US and Russia in real life, this films comes at a perfect time because we may find ourselves in a cold war that’s reminiscent of the latter part of the 20th century. Not for those who are weak in the stomach, this film contains cringy visceral horror that will get under your skin. Without the need to rely on science-fiction gadgetry to carry the story, this film provides well-developed characters and an intriguing plot that’s filled with twists and turns.

Prima Bolshoi Ballet ballerina Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) is faced with a bleak and uncertain future following a severe career-ending injury while on stage performing. Her high-ranking uncle persuades her to attend Sparrow School: an institution that trains seductive spies in order to pry information from targets by using extreme sensuality. Sparrows turn their minds and bodies into weapons for the state. Being determined to remain special, Dominika completes the sadistic training more quickly than the other students and is recruited for a covert assignment to track and report on an American CIA operative (Joel Edgerton) who Russia feels will lead them to the mole within their own ranks.

The beautiful opening of Red Sparrow is abruptly ended when Dominika suffers a horrific injury that instantly ends her ballet career. This acutely intense moment will cut you directly to the bone–you will undoubtedly wince or cringe, feel the break in your own legs. This is but a taste of what is to come throughout the movie. In an exquisite fashion, the gorgeous dance at the opening is juxtaposed against the alleged drug deal gone bad. Paralleling one another, the event that unfolds concurrently enable the plot to get a quickly paced fantastic start out the gate. Unfortunately, this excellent start does lead into a slower paced latter half of Act I. However, there is important background information that is revealed during Act I that foreshadows and sets up the remainder of the turning points in the plot. You will also notice the use of the color red in many places during the movie. Analyzing the shades of, and placement of the crimson hue has the potential to generate conversations between cinephiles.

The color red is not the only symbol in the movie that can be analyzed; there is a theme of your body belonging to the state. Essentially, this can be read as a commentary on celebrity. As a prima ballerina, Dominika’s body was weaponized for the stage and figuratively belonged to the Bolshoi and by extension to the public. Much in the same way her Sparrow weaponized body literally belongs to The State. It’s her body, but the Bolshoi and The State determine her career. But she is determined to not allow herself to become a commodity that can be abandoned, traded, or punished. This can be said about conventional celebrities and the public. In a manner of speaking, the public decides whether or not you are worth seeing on screen and how you should behave. Back during the days of the Studio System, this was a big problem because the Studio controlled your image, who you dated, slept with, when/if you had kids, your marriage, and more. There was mass exploitation in that system, and one of the reasons why it was ended. The empowering message of rebelling against The State, who is determined to own you and your body, can be witnessed through the covert actions of Dominika.

In the grand Hitchcockian fashion, there is a lot of suspense that increases tension but does not always provide a release. Though Hitch would have handled the level and pacing of the suspense more perfectly, you can read his famous bomb theory in Red Sparrow. Hitchcock knew how to take a two-dimensional situation and find a third-dimensional approach to impress the audiences and hold firm their attention. And to the film’s credit, there are a few times that the level of suspense coupled with the symphonic score channels Hitch. Unlike many spy movies that rely too heavily on a love story, the film brilliantly leaves you wondering whether or not Lawrence and Edgerton are in love or rather it is a facade employed in order to extract vital information for their respective allegiances. The level of romance and eroticism is just enough to add the sex-appeal to the relationship without the movie becoming about the romance between two individuals who serve two opposing countries.

Not for the faint of heart, there are some incredibly intense moments in the film that might make you queasy in the stomach. But the movie chooses to place more emphasis on the action, plot, and characters more so than that which threatens your eye. It’s certainly a new breed of spy movie, but it’s one that is incredibly interesting and will hold your attention for the more than 2hr runtime.