For about a year-and-a-half, the anticipation surrounding Daniel Craig’s final James Bond film, No Time To Die, has been at a fever pitch. Ever since the star announced this film would be his swan song in the franchise, the rocky road to release has been watched with a very keen eye by fans and spectators. Additionally, co-writer/director Cary Joji Fukunaga, the first American to ever direct a 007 adventure, faced some serious pressure after inheriting the blockbuster following a creative shake up behind-the-scenes. Now it's safe to say that, in light of such factors, No Time To Die absolutely lives up to the promise of being an adventure that changes everything, as it is a pure Bond spectacle that will take your breath away.
Picking up after their supposedly happy ending in Spectre, James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) find themselves thrown right back into danger and intrigue. Retired from active service as a 00 agent, Bond is eventually drawn back into the world he tried to leave, which basically brings the world up to the point that No Time To Die really starts to kick off. A massive threat is lurking in the shadows, thanks to Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), a mastermind who is planning something so large that James Bond might not know who to trust.
No Time To Die doesn’t waste a moment of its record setting screen time.
With a runtime that is nearly three hours, No Time To Die’s story gets off to a rousing start and doesn’t let up. In the run up to its debut, there have been promises that the Daniel Craig era of films was going to have a proper ending, tying together the five movie saga in an epic conclusion. That claim has absolutely been fulfilled, as the usual franchise antics are mixed in with a story that very much has history, especially Casino Royale, firmly in mind. With Bond truly trying to let go of the past, the shadow of prior events is harder to shake than ever.
This hook leads to a huge deviation in formula for No Time To Die, which is thanks to a script by Bond franchise stalwarts Neal Purvis and Robert Wade – with contributions from Cary Joji Fukunaga and Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge. That collective brain trust makes the blockbuster unique, as all of their influences are felt, but none conflict. Whole segments of Fukunaga’s movie delve into other genres, such as an opening flashback that makes Madeleine’s tragic past play out like a pseudo-slasher. The sum total of story beats and voices lead this final Daniel Craig era adventure in directions even the most die hard fans won’t expect.
Daniel Craig’s Bond finally gets a chance to flex some muscles that James Bond has needed to use for some time.
No Time To Die does not feel like a typical James Bond movie, as Daniel Craig’s variant of the secret agent actually gets to explore a more emotional side to the character. While there’s still top-notch action for those in need of some adrenaline, James and Madeleine’s love story at the heart of this narrative is allowed to be the franchise's most moving romance since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. If there’s any James Bond movie that No Time To Die owes a huge debt to, it's the George Lazenby classic that pushed the boundaries of the 007 franchise in very similar fashion.
There is also a lot of genuinely funny dialogue and scenarios that let Daniel Craig play to his comedic strengths – which also delivers his scenes with characters played by Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas some well-earned levity. But most notable is the fact that after four previous films of mostly stoic action, Craig finally gets to handle some Roger Moore style one-liners. Complimenting the deadly serious moments and utterly heartbreaking moments that No Time To Die has up its sleeve, there is a lightness that makes this final film in the Daniel Craig arc a true celebration of all things James Bond.
Consider the landing stuck, as No Time To Die is the best possible ending to this chapter of James Bond history.
There’s a line in Quantum of Solace that comes to mind when thinking about how No Time To Die ultimately lands. When instructing Olga Kurylenko’s Camille Montes on the moment of revenge she’s waited for years to enact, Daniel Craig’s 007 tells her, “Take a deep breath. You only need one shot. Make it count.” The same could be said for Craig’s decision to come back for No Time To Die, after teetering on the edge of quitting after Spectre. Put your fears to rest, because Daniel Craig and Cary Joji Fukunaga make their shot count, as this last ride for the rebooted Bond is one for the ages.
No Time To Die wraps up the Daniel Craig era of James Bond with the bow tie it’s always been destined to wear. This is going to be a conversation piece for fans and non-fans alike, as Craig’s Bond is allowed to go places other 007s haven’t dared to visit. With the modern era being a serialized story leading up to one gigantic ending, this is the best possible outcome that anyone could have expected. Borrowing from the past, and reinventing for the future, Cary Joji Fukunaga has given a new generation of James Bond fans a masterpiece on the level of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that should be revered for years to come.
Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.