Cary Joji Fukunaga’s stint at the helm of True Detective is held up as one of the best single seasons of television from the last decade, and rightfully so. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are incredible as Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, and the show deservedly won rave reviews and awards season recognition.
The fourth episode is famed for its six-minute tracking shot that unfolds during an intense drug bust, and Fukunaga has sought to replicate it to some degree in No Time to Die. During the movie’s third act, Daniel Craig’s James Bond is battling against Lyutsifer Safin’s henchmen on the villain’s island lair, and as 007 makes his way up a stairwell he dispatches a series of goons in what’s been edited to look like one long, unbroken take.
In a new interview with SlashFilm, Fukunaga explained how he managed to convince his perfectionist leading man that avoiding quick cuts would ultimately enhance the quality of the action, which it does.
“Daniel’s a perfectionist, so he wants every punch, every shot, everything just to be, on a physical level, flawless. And even just that early fight in Matera, where he does three or four combos with Primo before he wraps the laundry line around his neck, Daniel would have preferred to do that in cuts, just so he can make sure every punch looked good. It comes from his desire, which I share, to make sure that when people watch, there’s no suspension of disbelief issues, no doubts that those aren’t real hits landing, or himself taking hits.
So to then pitch another single-take shot that lasts even longer later in the film, that was something that we talked about at length with the producers and the stunt coordinators, and discussed, ‘Well, what could we do that no one feels like the performance is being sacrificed?’.”
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Of course, Craig is no stranger to lengthy takes in Bond movies after Sam Mendes’ Spectre opened in similarly stylish fashion, but the choreography in No Time to Die required much more intricacy. Fukunaga pulls it off, and it adds a different quality to what’s become the standard execution of ‘hero shoots and punches multiple bad guys’ set piece the action genre swears by.