‘No Time To Die’ Brings An Explosive End To Craig’s Bond Era (Movie Review)

No Time To Die, the 25th film in the long-running James Bond series, finally hits theaters this weekend. Nearly two years after its initially scheduled release, Daniel Craig’s final outing as Her Majesty’s favorite “blunt instrument” features the longest run time yet, at 163 min. Other fun tidbits? Six years is the biggest gap ever between films, with Spectre released way back in 2015. As such, ex-president Donald Trump is the only Commander-in-Chief to not have a Bond film released during his term. Finally, pop phenom Billie Eilish is the youngest artist to record a James Bond theme song. That song is also the only one in Grammy history to be awarded before the movie was released. Okay, okay, but how is the actual film???

Daniel Craig’s performance as British secret agent James Bond threaded a delicate needle since his first outing fifteen years ago in Casino Royale. One which weaves brute force with an ample supply of vulnerability. He’s just as skilled at drowning a foe in a restroom sink as he is wrestling with his insecurities in personal relationships. Although his Bond can have multiple rendezvous with the opposite sex, Craig has sold a level of intimacy with at least two women (Eva Green and Léa Sedoux) in the five films that feel grounded despite all of the explosive action.

That’s worth noting as one of the most remarkable aspects of No Time To Die is that much of the stakes, plot-wise, have nothing to do with Bond himself. Yes, he will still encounter a frenetic shootout alongside “new to the job” C.I.A. agent Paloma (Ana de Armes, who is engaging from frame one), take flight with the acting 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch), and hold his breath to escape a sinking ship. However, for the first time in recent memory, the big bad, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), isn’t all that concerned with Bond. Still, Bond is concerned because of his emotional connections to Spectre’s Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux). Bond movies aren’t just for mindless hijinx, especially in the Craig era, which comes to a close in this fifth entry.

The beating heart of this tale begins with a young Madeleine back in the nineties, playing with her Tamagotchi while a masked man has come to kill her father. For a Bond film, this opener leans more into horror, which works like gangbusters to amplify a wholly different tone. Set at a remote Norweigian home beside a frozen lake, you can probably bet someone will end up under the ice.

The second half of this extended opening finds Madeline with James on a kind of honeymoon. And yet, even though Bond assumes they’ll have “all the time in the world” (heard as a nod to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), they do not. Over the next two hours, viewers will travel to Italy, Jamaica, Cuba, and, of course, the United Kingdom. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective) keeps the pace tight considering the run time along with the stunning visuals from cinematographer Linus Sandgren (First Man). While I loved the imagery delivered in Spectre and Skyfall especially, No Time To Die still managed to produce a cinematic experience marrying all the spectacle with a lot of heart.

I also loved how the opening title sequence, accompanied by Eilish’s fantastic track, furthers the connection of Bond, his relationship with Madeliene, and the latest weapon threatening the world. Visual graphics artist extraordinaire Daniel Kleinman returns for the umpteenth time to deliver the goods. Another first of sorts, there are no silhouettes of the female body. A few close-ups but overall, what’s leaves a bigger impression are the endless pistols firing to make a DNA sequence. Tré cool.

Killing Eve creator Phoebe-Waller Bridge is credited as screenwriter alongside director Fukunaga and veteran Bond scribes Neal Purvis & Robert Wade. Those expecting more showy moments of women who kick butt a la Captain Marvel’s “she’s got help” scene in Avengers: Endgame might be disappointed, though. Personally, I think all the women’s roles in No Time To Die are better than that moment of Marvel girl power. From Lynch’s Nomi as the new 007 to Naomi Harris as this era’s Moneypenny, it’s great to see how this sixty-year series has progressed with the times (finally). Bond is no longer the “misogynistic dinosaur” Judi Dench’s M once called Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye.

Although No Time To Die gives Craig plenty of scenes to remind us why he’s one of the best Bonds of all time, there’s a much-appreciated balance between the leading man and the impressive supporting cast. In addition to Armas’ scene-stealing (albeit brief) jaunt in Cuba, series regulars Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Winshaw all have nice turns. Malek’s Safin might be a tad underused, but his few scenes leave an impact.

No Time To Die exceeded my expectations. Not only as Craig’s final outing as 007 but as a rousing and emotionally engaging blockbuster.

[Theatergoers should note: I was able to see the film twice before release. Once on IMAX and then regular digital projection. The standard digital was by far the way to go. The colors popped, and the dialogue was crisp. I might need to see this a third time soon.]

Peter’s ranking for Daniel Craig’s James Bond Entries:
1. Skyfall 5/5
2. No Time To Die 4/5
3. Casino Royale 4/5
4. Spectre 3.5/5
5. Quantum of Solace 3/5



1 Response to “‘No Time To Die’ Brings An Explosive End To Craig’s Bond Era (Movie Review)”

  1. Gregg

    First off, great review! Second, I absolutely loved this film! I’d put it second best of the Craig films behind Casino Royale.