Estimated read time: 7-8 minutes
MI6 — The time has finally come: Daniel Craig is saying goodbye to James Bond.
We've known for some time that "No Time to Die" would be Craig's swansong to Bond, but it's been a long time coming.
The 25th film in the Eon Productions canon of James Bond began development in 2016, principal photography started in 2019, and the film was set to release in April 2020. Like most 2020 productions, however, the release was moved — initially to November 2020 — but COVID-19 didn't slow down, and it was postponed yet again.
Now, five years after it started its journey, "No Time to Die" is finally headed to theaters this weekend. The question now is: Is Craig's final outing as 007 worth the wait?
Each will have their own opinion here, but for this Bond fan the answer is yes. "No Time to Die" will be a divisive film. I believe people will either love it or hate it, without many people standing in between.
I am on the former end of that debate, and here is why I think "No Time to Die" is a fantastic send-off to Craig's James Bond.
As always, this will be a spoiler-free review.
It's a different kind of Bond film
Back in 2006, Craig and director Martin Campbell flipped the script on James Bond with "Casino Royale." The movie created a new kind of Bond who was fallible. His antics from the 1960s and 70s were now weaknesses. He wasn't invincible. The character was grounded and vulnerable. He still had all the charisma and physicality, but we could all relate to this new super spy and it was intriguing.
For the most part, the following Bond films with Craig have followed suit and stayed in that lane. "No Time to Die" continues on that journey, but Bond is different in this film and it humanizes him in a whole new way.
The story takes multiple twists and turns, and the suave spy has completely new motivations; all of it gives us a side of Bond we have never seen in his long history. This change of pace and change of character may be off-putting to some Bond fans, but I found it refreshing and thought it fit in the character's arc.
This Bond has been through a lot over five films, and it shows — not only in his broken body, but in his maturity. He's no longer a new double-O; he's a veteran who's about to turn into a legend or a ghost story, depending on which side you stand on. This is not the same man who brazenly crashed a high-stakes poker game at a Montenegro casino 15 years ago; he's still just as bold but has learned over time and approaches things in a new way.
As I mentioned earlier, this may catch some viewers off-guard and likely will not be their cup of tea, but it worked for me and gave the character a depth and empathy I haven't seen before.
Craig knows what's at stake and delivers
Undoubtedly, there are some who do not like Craig as Bond or the films he has done. Regardless, Craig will enter into the debate of who is the best Bond of all time. For my money, he's right up there at the top with the original 007, Sean Connery.
This is Craig's fifth outing as the debonair spy, and he cares about the legacy he leaves. I didn't get a chance to talk to him and ask him that question, but I didn't need to because you can see it on the screen.
Craig brought everything he had left in him to the role this time around, and I mean that from a physicality perspective and an acting one. I'm not sure "No Time to Die" is my favorite Bond out of Craig's catalog, but I believe it is my favorite performance. He wanted to give us a show on his last mission, and he did just that. Craig enthralled me from start to finish, and I believed every moment — even the corny one-liners.
It's a satisfying bookend for the series
We all know we'll get more James Bond films in the future, but not with Daniel Craig and this storyline. These last five films have woven together a narrative tapestry with each story connecting to its predecessors. "No Time to Die" continues that overarching story and wraps it up with a nice little bow.
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga and the screenwriters — one of which was Fukunaga — made sure to create an entirely new story with fresh thrills and excitement while pulling in elements and loose ends from the franchise to create a satisfying finale. Names and characters resurface from the earlier films, and that gets us invested in what's at stake and makes us feel a part of the history.
Fukunaga has done a masterful job behind the camera creating a taut action flick with drama we truly care about.
Most importantly, it's fun
This is a James Bond movie so it better be fun, and I think "No Time to Die" is. It may lean to the more serious side than some of the other films, but it's still a good time at the movies. Wonderfully choreographed fight scenes, heart-pounding chase sequences, clever gadgets, swanky parties — Craig's final Bond film has all of that and more. The filmmakers even managed to throw in some chuckles here and there.
There are a few action scenes, in particular, that will leave you white-knuckled with an involuntary smile on your face. I tip my hat to the stunts team on "No Time To Die." They were at the top of their game for this outing, just like they have been in the previous four Bond films.
While it's a different kind of Bond film, it's still a Bond film as the characters globe-trot and do it in ball gowns and tuxedos with watches that explode and cars that pack some extra firepower.
The villain is the one weak spot
There is one area I had a problem with, and that was with the villain. The Bond baddie this time around is played by Academy Award-winner Rami Malek. It's not Malek's performance I necessarily have a problem with, but rather his character that didn't connect for me.
The filmmakers did such a great job focusing on Bond and his narrative that it felt like the villain's story was kind of thrown together last-minute. His motivations feel unclear, and I'm still not sure why he made certain decisions other than to move the plot along and create a global threat for Bond to battle.
Maybe there was something I missed, but this villain paled in comparison to some of the incredible other ones we got from this series, like Mads Mikkelsen's Le Chiffre from "Casino Royale" or Javier Bardem's Silva from "Skyfall."
What parents should know
I don't know what to say here other than it's a Bond film. There is sex, violence, heavy themes and a high body count. There is some language, mostly PG-13 fare, and while there is some skin shown and sex alluded to, that aspect may be tamer in this film than Bond films in the past.
Is it worth watching?
For my money, "No Time to Die" is a fitting finale to a strong Bond series and one that should be seen in the theater. As I mentioned, I believe this will be a divisive film and you're either going to love it or hate it, but if you're a Bond fan you know you're going to check it out, regardless of which camp you fall into.
"No Time to Die" is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, brief strong language, and some suggestive material.