NO TIME TO DIE review – A Fitting Goodbye to Daniel Craig’s Bond

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Title: No Time To Die
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, and Ralph Fiennes
Movie length: 2 hour 43 minutes

James Bond is one of those characters that has stood the test of time, having been played by Sean Connery, George Lazenby (haven’t heard of him? He only played Bond once), Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and now Daniel Craig. Craig has long said that this is his last time donning the tuxedo, and it turns out No Time to Die is a fitting coda to his 5 film stint.

Despite the different actors, there have been some hallmarks of Bond movies including gadgets and a cool unflappable lead who has a way with the ladies. The Craig Bond movies have attempted to bring Bond into the modern era, with a grittier version of Bond who feels regret and is fairly monogamous. While I’ve enjoyed most of the Craig Bond films, I often felt they were trying so hard to give Bond pathos that they lost one of the key elements to the character.  

In another break from tradition, while Bond movies are typically standalone affairs with no lasting change or consequence for the hero, the Craig films all relate to each other. Bond typically doesn’t change because he emerges from every movie unscathed (and doesn’t seem particularly bothered by the collateral damage his exploits cause). Craig’s Bond is burdened by losses from prior films. Craig has a charisma and confidence that draws you root for him, but I haven’t become as invested in him as the movies want heading into No Time To Die.

Photo credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

It turns out that there is plenty of time to die, with the film clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes (no end credits scene) and plenty of bad guys dying. Thankfully, the film is chock full of well choreographed action sequences that make the run time fly by. These aren’t repetitive boring action sequences (I’m looking at you DC Universe punch fests). Each car chase and fight scene is distinct and entertaining. With all of the Bond copycats out there (Bourne, Mission Impossible, the last few Fast and the Furious movies where the criminals have I guess become spies?), it is hard to be truly original, but No Time to Die manages to bring some new twists to the action. My lone complaint is I wish the movie worked in a few more Bond style gadgets.

No Time to Die also has one of the more interesting plots of the recent Bond movies, with a ‘world at risk’ scenario that feels a little too close to home for my comfort. The plot is a little more complicated than normal for a Bond movie, and this movie is better for it. While not every twist ended up being a surprise, it was fun figuring out who was good and who was bad and what the endgame was. You don’t have to have seen any prior Bond movies to understand this one, though knowledge of the Craig installments will enhance your viewing.

In addition to a fine performance by Craig (who continues to exude a great balance of confidence, weariness, and regret), No Time to Die also features some strong supporting characters. Ana de Armas in particular stole the show in her all too brief appearance.  Rami Malek provides a suitably creepy antagonist and Jeffrey Wright is quite likable in his return as CIA agent Felix Leiter.

No Time to Die is easily my favorite of the Craig Bond Films. It feels like a great coda to the Craig era, with ongoing themes and recurring characters being given resolution and an air of finality. Speculation will no doubt start about who the next Bond will be, but until that is revealed, enjoy Craig’s version one last time.

Score: A

Click here to hear Tracy and I review No Time to Die on Through the Lens: https://anchor.fm/darren-shulman/episodes/No-Time-To-Die-Review-e18jfn7

No Time to Die is now playing in theaters.


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