Thursday, December 2, 2021

In the Reels: Double Feature

Cameron Kaercher

Craig says farewell to Bond in ‘No Time to Die’

In 2006’s “Casino Royale,” Daniel Craig ushered in a new era for James Bond. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed secret agent became more respected with this iteration after Pierce Brosnan played James Bond in the late nineties and early 2000s. Those films were ridiculous and Craig’s performance was seen as a return to form for the long-running franchise.

The latest installment, “No Time to Die,” will be Craig’s final time playing James Bond.

After leaving the British intelligence agency at the end of 2015’s “Spectre,” James Bond is enjoying his life of peace in Jamaica. His new paradise is interrupted by his former coworker Felix Leiter, played by Jeffery Wright. Leiter comes with distressing information that a bioterrorist known as Lyutsifer Safin, played by Rami Malek, has kidnapped a prominent scientist and plans to use his work for world domination.

This 25th James Bond film continues to deliver on what makes the spy series iconic. The locations are beautiful with trips to Italy, Norway, Scotland, the aforementioned Jamaica, and of course, the United Kingdom. Bond drives the classic Aston Martin DB5, this time it is equipped with tiny machine guns behind the headlights.

Unlike the one-dimensional women in previous Bond films with giggle-worthy names such as Xenia Onatopp or Holly Goodhead, the women in “No Time to Die” are better written. Ana de Armas makes a quick appearance as a CIA agent sent to work with Bond and her performance as Paloma gives the action some swift choreography and humor. Lashana Lynch, as Nomi, a secret agent vying for James Bond’s previous position, is whip-smart and would make a more than deserved successor to Craig.

“No Time to Die” may have all the hallmarks one looks for in a spy flick, but it never lives up to the best of Craig’s films. However, his performance is touching, and it is clear that he loves this character. His send-off to 007 is fitting and the film leaves the audience interested in what comes next for the character.

 

‘Halloween  Kills’ stalls for time

In 2018, the long-running “Halloween” franchise received a reboot from Blumhouse Productions. The film was a blockbuster hit with a $250 million gross, ensuring that two more films would be made to create a 21st Century “Halloween” trilogy.

“Halloween Kills” picks up at the tail end of “Halloween” (2018). Michael Myers, played by both James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle, is trapped in a burning house after being outsmarted. Laurie Strode, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and her daughter and granddaughter, played by Judy Greer and Andi Matichak, respectively, are fleeing the scene after trapping Myers. Since the movie still needs an antagonist, Myers emerges from the burning wreckage to continue his killing spree.

This opening set piece is rightfully gnarly. Myers is as intimidating as ever as he takes on a whole group of firefighters equipped with axes, hammers and a buzz saw. A lot of this impact is due to the phenomenal score by John Carpenter.

Here, Carpenter combines powerful synths that feel like an engine revving, with the classic “Halloween” piano theme hovering above it. In fact, seeing this in the theater might be worth it to some just to hear the music on a large-scale sound system.

The story gets tied into a pretzel to shoehorn in a message about mob mentality. It’s a “Halloween” movie and the only story line should be, the bad guy kills a bunch of people. Every time Myers is on camera and killing people, it is exciting and when the film returns to the other characters it feels mundane. 

It is also difficult to take any fights seriously while knowing that another “Halloween” is on the way, so it’s understood that Myers will live to kill another day.

“Halloween Kills”  is currently available in theaters as well as streaming on Peacock Premium. The violence may make this a worthwhile experience for fans of the series. However, those who are looking for a good horror movie will be left disappointed.

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