After the disappointment that was Spectre, there was little to no hope regarding Craig’s future as Bond. The actor seemed tired and bored to death with a franchise that didn’t suit him anymore. It was therefore a shock when he announced in 2017 that he would take on the 007 mantle one last time. And when it was announced it would be directed by the amazing Maniac director Cary Joji Fukunaga, the hype came back like never before. So, was No Time to Die a necessary farewell to Craig’s Bond? Let’s find out.
At the start of this 25th instalment, we find Bond where we left him off at the end of Spectre: he’s enjoying life with his new partner Madeleine Swann. I won’t spoil anything here, but things quickly take a turn for the worse and Bond cuts himself from the rest of the world. Five years later, Bond has retired to the sunny beaches of Jamaica when a friend from the past asks for his help for “one last mission”, embarking him on a classic Bond adventure across the globe.
Unsurprisingly, the newest Bond entry is a success in many areas. Both visually stunning and highly entertaining, partly due to Hans Zimmer’s beautiful soundtrack and Fukunaga’s energy-fuelled direction, this is a film that will make audiences remember why they loved cinema before the pandemic. But while No Time to Die offers spectacular action scenes, ranging from a chase in the streets of a small Italian town to a hide and seek game in the cloudy forests of Norway, they never quite have the impact scenes in Skyfall or Casino Royale had. Perhaps the more generic action-style fails to set itself apart from other spy films or perhaps it’s just the movie’s runtime (as it is the longest Bond film ever made) that makes it easier to forget certain elements of the story.
What No Time to Die does better than any other Bond film however is making Bond a genuinely interesting and well-written modern character. From start to finish Craig delivers a wonderful performance that really encompasses the weight of the films that came before it, all leading to a beautiful and touching finale that will make audiences weep. Much to the disapproval of many fans of the hyper-masculine Bond Fleming created, Craig manages to be interesting without showing blatant misogyny or shagging anything that moves. But the extended importance of Bond does come at the expense of other characters, like Academy award-winner Rami Malek’s Safin who comes off as a confusing villain with ridiculous motivations and backstory, especially compared to Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre or Javier Bardem’s Silva. Regarding characters, one cannot but mention the amazing newcomers Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch whose roles often outshine Craig’s, mostly thanks to Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her always-sharp writing.
In the end, Daniel Craig’s final outing as Agent 007 is a flawed but beautiful farewell to the character he has embodied so well for over fifteen years. It feels like a mature conclusion that acknowledges and respects all the films that came before it but also manages to make Bond a modern and fascinating character like Fleming intended. So, knock yourself out, take a mortgage out to buy that sweet Odeon popcorn, and watch No Time to Die on the biggest screen you can find!