James Bond returns to active duty to stop a genocidal madman
from wiping out mankind with a stolen biological weapon.
No Time to Die (2021)
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade,
Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Starring Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, Rami Malek, Ben Whishaw, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Christoph Waltz, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen, Ana de Armas
Sequel to 2015's Spectre
Based on characters created by Ian Fleming
It’s amazing to think for as long as the James Bond franchise has been around, not a single actor has really been given a complete arc during their time playing the character. They have usually just left with a new actor taking the role and the series moving forward with no care. There has been the occasional moment to give some sense of continuity, but nothing substantial. Until now. Thanks to the smart decision to reboot and start from the beginning with 2006’s Casino Royale, we finally have been given a complete arc with a single actor in the role. The actor in question being Daniel Craig. For the past 15 years, he has not just played this part, but defined the iconic character for an entire generation. Now, with No Time to Die set to be his swan song for the character and franchise, we get a fitting goodbye to the best Bond since Sean Connery.
While Daniel Craig has always been great in the role of Bond, he’s on a completely different level here. Seemingly taking into account this being his final film, he delivers a series best performance and appears to be giving it his all. Not to be outdone, the rest of the cast steps up as well. To the point where I was sad when one character, played by Ana de Armas, disappears after the Cuba sequence. She brought such a good amount of energy that I wanted more of her. It’s not just the actors giving it their all, though. The director, Cary Fukunaga, quickly proves why he was the perfect choice for this final installment. Despite the lengthy runtime, he delivers a film which moves at a brisk pace and features some of the series best action sequences. One in particular, a brilliant long take up a flight of stairs, has to be seen to be believed. The only part this film falters is its villain. While Rami Malek’s performance is fine, his villain is pretty forgettable and not that threatening.
Other than a bland villain, this is an incredibly satisfying and fitting conclusion to the Craig era of Bond films. With an ending which will leave you in tears, it’s so nice to finally see an actor stay in the role long enough to give us an ending. I know this franchise will go on and the hunt for a new actor is currently happening. But it will be incredibly hard to stand next to the legacy Craig has left.
Here we are. End of an era. Daniel Craig has played the character of James Bond for fifteen years, breaking previous Bond Roger Moore's record of twelve years. He's been the face of this franchise for an entire generation, and No Time to Die is his epic swan song. The first film to be pushed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic; I feel like I've been waiting a lifetime to see this one. For the most part, it doesn't disappoint. It delivers an epic conclusion to Craig's Bond run, culminating in the end of a satisfying arc that began with Casino Royale, and continued with Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre, leading to No Time to Die. It's not without its faults, sure, but it's one of Craig's best, and maybe the most ballsy 007 flick to date.
Bond has left active service to live a life with Madeleine Swann (Seydoux). An incident forces them apart, and five years later, Bond is called back to action by MI6 to help them locate a stolen biological weapon that threatens the entire world. At the center of this new threat is Madeleine herself and Bond's arch-nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Waltz). The villain is the enigmatic and psychotic Lyutsifer Safin (Malek), who wants to make the world a better place, in his own way. Malek is the one problem I have with the movie. He's an underwhelming presence, and his performance is so non-threatening. Plus, despite all the constant teases, he is not Doctor No. Not even a little bit. But I digress.
From Billie Eilish's haunting theme song to the heartbreaking finale that ends Craig's tenure as James Bond, No Time to Die is a solid entry in this long-running franchise. The stage for the next 007 has been set, and I'm sure it will be some time until we get a 26th film. But for now, let's say farewell to one of the best to ever play the role. Thanks for a great run, Daniel Craig.