Tag Archives: ralph fiennes

‘No Time to Die’ Review

Kind of crazy to think about it, but Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond (2006-2021) lasted than Robert Downey Jr.’s as Iron Man (2008-2019).

“No Time to Die” is the 25th installment in the long-running James Bond franchise, and features Daniel Craig in his fifth and final outing as the titular spy, this time in a race to locate a kidnapped scientist who is working for a mysterious madman with a world-threatening plan. Directed and co-written by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the film features Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, and Ralph Fiennes reprising their roles from previous films, with Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Billy Magnussen, and Ana de Armas joining the cast.

The 007 films have always been hit or miss, with Craig’s “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall” ranking among the best of the series and “Quantum of Solace” and “Spectre” usually being included among the worst. “No Time to Die” falls somewhere in the middle, acting as a fitting tribute to Craig’s time as the character and featuring several great action scenes from Fukunaga, but also runs far too long and is yet another installment with a weak villain.

It is hard to believe that people weren’t sold on Daniel Craig as James Bond at the time of his casting back in the mid-2000s, but much like Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck as Batman or Heath Ledger as the Joker he quickly shut doubters up with a gritty portrayal of the character. “No Time to Die” gives Craig a few chances to show Bond’s sympathetic side, as well as some dry humor. If you never warmed up to Craig then this won’t do you over, but the film makes a few nice nods to his decade-and-a-half as Bond.

The supporting cast is mostly very solid, with Lashana Lynch being the “new 007.” She has some fun fight sequences, as does Craig’s “Knives Out” co-star Ana de Armas in a limited role, showing that the franchise isn’t just a boy’s (and Dame Judi Dench) club. Christoph Waltz even gets to make a brief return from his role in “Spectre,” and thanks to some witty writing almost makes you wish we got an entire other film with him as the big baddie. And speaking of…

Rami Malek, who was cast fresh off his Oscar win as Freddie Mercury, is a different story than everyone else. Malek is doing the stoic, clenched jaw look that he has now known for, and his performance is as bland as the backstory his character is given. I really couldn’t tell you his exact motivations for why he wants to kill people, and in a franchise with so many rich bad guys, Craig has really only gotten to go up against one (Javier Bardem).

The action sequences are top-notch, with a few edge-of-your seat gun fights. Fukunaga even manages to get in a single-take stairway shootout that runs for about three minutes, something he loves to put into his projects (not only his famous four-minute one in “True Detective” but 2015’s “Beasts of No Nation”).

The biggest problem with “No Time to Die” (outside Malek) is that when guns aren’t going off, things can teeter on boring. There is a lot of talk about infections, de-population, and targeted groups of people, and for a film that was originally due out in April 2020 and now is released post(-ish) of a global pandemic, it may not be what some folk will deem as “entertainment.” The film runs 163 minutes and in no way justifies that length; if it had been a clean 140 then I think this could have been one of the better Bond films, but it wears out its welcome before a lackluster climax.

The latest 007 film is great news for theaters starving for blockbuster content, but only a ho-hum reward for actual cinemagoers. Sure, there is fun to be had; and the classic Bond cars, gadgets, and music are enough to make you remember why we love the movies. But there is something hollow at the core, and while there may be “No Time to Die” there was certainly time that could’ve been trimmed off this runtime.

Critics Rating: 5/10

‘Budapest Hotel’ Is Good, Not Grand

The_Grand_Budapest_Hotel_PosterIt isn’t too often that you can walk into a movie and know exactly what it is you’re in store for, however you know exactly what you’re getting with a Wes Anderson flick: there will be quick cuts, colorful backdrops and quirky characters. And his newest film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is nothing different.

The film stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with the hotel’s lobby boy to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum also star, with Anderson directing and writing the script.

What makes “Budapest” so much fun is how charming and unique all of its characters are. Ralph Fiennes does a marvelous job as the flamboyant concierge, winning over everyone that he crosses paths with and giving blunt and humorous responses to even the most obscure situations.

While all the members of the cast do a good job, perhaps the best comes from newcomer Tony Revolori, who plays the lobby boy and Fiennes’ right hand man. Revolori has great chemistry and banter with Fiennes, and has a special screen-presence about him.

The film features some great writing by Anderson, and when paired with Fiennes’ performance the film delivers several big laughs. However there are times where there will be something shocking or grim, and the film expects you to laugh at the incident, but all you do is sit there somewhat awkwardly, unsure if it would be socially acceptable to laugh or not. For example a man throws a cat out a window for comedic effect, but you aren’t sure how to react because the characters are giving off different vibes. This happened a couple times and it took me out of the movie for a minute.

The film’s other flaw is the plot isn’t always on a straight line. It starts off in a memory and then goes into two flashbacks more before actually beginning the main story, and then goes off on several tangents that feel unnecessary before finally reaching a climax. Many of these sidetracks were just excuses for Anderson to include his friends in the film, and while it was fun seeing various cameos, it made the film feel a bit longer than it actually is.

In the end, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a good movie, not a grand one. It features numerous fun performances, especially those of Fiennes and Revolori, as well as some clever dialogue and intriguing backdrops. If you’re a casual moviegoer then I say give the film a chance. Sure it has some awkward and abstract features, but when you get down to it, it is a unique and original film, and those are hard to come by nowadays.

Critics Rating: 7/10