The Daniel Craig era of James Bond is one that has been stop and start from the jump. Swinging from masterpieces like Casino Royale and Skyfall to production-plagued films in Quantum of Solace to finally whatever the heck Spectre was. For it to come to a close in a movie like No Time to Die seems both perfectly fitting and also a reminder of where we could have left things.
James Bond is old. It is arguably the central animating idea behind Daniel Craig’s last three Bond films and, with obvious reason, it is an idea that No Time to Die is fascinated by. The bell is tolling for James and company and after a six year absence due to both production and COVID-related delays, the cast, particularly Craig’s Bond and Fiennes’ M look, well, older. Whether it’s getting the final chapter of Bond and Felix, or Bond starting a new agent on her journey, an excellent Ana De Armas, or getting a final moment with each of the MI6 crew, the winds of change are blowing and, in true Craig fashion, there are no sacred cows.
Craig is of course great as 007, even if by this point you can almost feel the freedom and acclaim he’s garnered in other roles since he was last Bond bringing about a change and more joy in him. Craig is only the second actor to ever play Bond in his 50’s and that by its very nature brings about a change in the character and performance. I like the more understated and wise Bond we have here. He’s been transformed and forged by both his years of service and also years of retirement and brings something unseen by Bond up to this point.
This sense of age and the slow end of things carries over to the MI6 crew, most wonderfully in Ralph Fiennes’ performance as M, but also Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter and his character’s end, and to the larger societal themes and ideas that No Time to Die is playing with.
Rami Malek as Safin is a largely forgettable villain in all honesty, partially hamstrung by the fact that the first sizable chunk of the film is focused on wrapping up the SPECTRE plot thread and partially because his character is largely tasked with being a silent ominous baddie.
Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann though easily makes up for the issues I had with her character in the last film and becomes one of my very favorite aspects of this movie and of course plays a key role in the film’s controversial ending.
So much of what your thoughts on No Time to Die will be depend on how you view and feel about the ending. For me, now eight-plus months after I first saw it, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. I definitely disagree with the idea that James Bond can’t have a happy ending. I think he can, be it the glimpse of one we saw at the finale of Spectre or even the little teases of what could have been here. I think he, as a character, could have had a well-earned ending, that remained true to the ethos and character of who James is.
Certainly it’s what I would have preferred. In the first time the series gives us a proper and planned ending for a Bond, they don’t go that route. And that’s fine. The finale is emotionally powerful and touching and the film’s excellent usage of Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All The Time in the World” throughout the film pays off wonderfully with it being used as the film’s coda. I can’t give enough credit to how things are handled at the end.
Yet, I still don’t think I like the ending. And that’s ok. This ending both was for me and wasn’t. Things and stories can be messy and complicated. That’s life. Lord knows that’s the Bond series.
Do I wish James got to lumber into the DB5 and drive off into the sunset with the Swann clan? Yeah, I do. But I also understand the behind the scenes aspects of Daniel Craig probably only coming back if they killed the character off. Ultimately, I don’t like the decision but I can’t fault the execution of it at all. That might change over time, but that’s how I feel right now. What a journey for Craig though.
As good as Ana de Armas and the Cuban section is, nothing comes close to the entire sequence of James just destroying Safin’s gang at the final lair with the crown jewel being the stairwell scene which genuinely is now in my top 10 favorite Bond scenes ever. Just incredible, incredible stuff.
Yeah, I mean I think Safin is so fine and whatever and while it’s cool that he’s a throwback to classic Bond evil plan villains, I think the Craig era has always struggled with making many of those classic Bond ideas and characters work as well in the modern era. Would be curious to see how the next Bond approaches it. 7/10
God bless Jeffery Wright. The best Felix Leiter the series has ever seen gives his best performance at the end here. Funny, sad, emotional, and tragic; Wright’s Felix has been a constant perfect foil to Craig’s Bond and is one of the things I am most thankful for from this era. Two of the most emotional beats of the entire film involve Felix and his final scene with Craig is goosebumps-inducing. What a brotherhood the two have formed. Easily a 10/10.
Nanoblood! That’s all that matters here. Is it dumb? Yes. Is it a story point? Yes. Does it enable a gut punch finale? Also yes.
I don’t know if it is earned but it’s there for the ending, and while I don’t like it, it does it’s job very well.
No Time to Die is a giant, at times lumbering, at others high energy, coda to the Daniel Craig era of Bond. An era of highs and lows, of smashing through virtually all of the sacred cows of the James Bond mythos including arguably the biggest with the death of James here. Daniel Craig was a bull in a china shop as James and his movies reflect that. At their end you are left with a remarkable, divisive, bad, and utterly brilliant collection of films. And at the end of that journey lays the most emotional Bond film since Casino Royale. 7/10