Daniel Craig bows out as James Bond in arguably the most Bond-way possible in No Time to Die.
Many thought the most recent instalment in the franchise, Spectre (2015), was the last we would see Daniel Craig as the character. Craig himself has very interesting things to say about the film and the entire production ordeal; it was clearly wearing him down to be the man with the golden gun. Somehow, someone came along and convinced him to do one more, one final outing, and whoever that was, deserves a raise because this is as suitable an exit for the character as possible.
Everything about No Time to Die feels so retro in the best way. The cheesy one-liners, the quips and the outlandish gadgets are all here in spades; just the right amount to ride the line between farce and loving homage. There is even a massive island bad-guy fortress in the film’s climax. They really didn’t hold back with this one, thankfully. The tone of this film is set pretty well and maintained throughout, being a fun romp with a lot of surprisingly hard-hitting emotional sequences.
Craig is always good as the character; even in his lesser instalments, he brings a level of charm and raw vulnerability to the film that just hasn’t been seen in past incarnations. His vulnerability in this film is felt more than the others. He is constantly selling the sheer terror and uncertainty surrounding his life, and now that the character has even more stakes than before, the explosions and car chases have so much more weight.
Speaking of the explosions and car chases, director Cary Joji Fukunaga absolutely nails the action sequences here. Every scene feels so vibrant, being filled with amazing colours and great shot composition. The action feels immersive, especially due to the amount of eye-watering long takes and a distinct (and welcome) lack of shaky cam. It’s safe to say Fukunaga is one to watch for the future if his eye for action is anything to go by in this film.
His handling of the supporting and returning characters outside of our lead is handled very well except for one element, the villain. The choices made around our baddie here are baffling. Rami Malek is not the most dread-filled or intimidating actor, and his entire character feels almost like an obligatory afterthought. His writing is fine if a little cliched. It’s the fact that he really doesn’t have a presence in the film until nearly the very end, and even then, his motivation to want to kill Bond is practically non-existent. He has much more of a vendetta against Lea Seydoux’s character, Seydoux giving the best performance in the whole thing. She is always a wonderful presence on screen, bringing so much to the character that acts as Bond’s (typically underwritten) love interest.
The new characters are a lot of fun too. Lashana Lynch comes in as the new 007 after Bond’s retirement early on. Her performance and character were so good that if she were announced as Craig’s replacement, that would not be a bad idea at all. Ana de Armas has a brief but fun scene in the middle of the movie, acting as a somewhat ditsy Cuban double agent that helps Bond navigate the plot.
The other major issue with this film is the absurd runtime. Coming in at nearly three hours long, No Time to Die feels its length sometimes, especially during the first half, which takes a long time to kick the main plot into gear. The first action sequence comes out of nowhere and stands only to highlight how poorly paced and structured the first act is. Not much of the villain’s plot is explored until well into the film, and by then, so much more has happened of interest that the villain’s story doesn’t feel significant.
No Time to Die is a very entertaining, emotional, and long farewell to Daniel Craig’s excellent tenure as James Bond, pulling out all the stops for this special event. The writing could have been slightly tighter for Rami Malek’s villain, and the pace definitely could have been improved. All that being said, this will satisfy those who have enjoyed the previous entries in Craig’s series and will leave most slightly sad knowing we won’t see this legendary Bond on screen anymore.
Daniel Craig has said that he would retire from the role of James Bond if he felt he was too old to play the character. Craig has also said that it has become harder to be fit enough for the role and that there has been more use of doubles for action sequences.