Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Production: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Universal Pictures, Eon Productions, B25, Cinesite, Danjaq
Distributor: Universal Pictures International (UPI)
Platforms: Theatrical Release (Reviewed)
Release Date: Out Now!
Here it is, the final Daniel Craig James Bond film. Now I’ve seen it twice, I’m ready to give my verdict! No Time to Die is an action-packed, emotional, and – crucially – fulfilling last outing for this incarnation of the iconic character.
Picking up after Spectre, James Bond is starting to settle down with Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux). However, the past catches up in the form of various villainous loose ends, such as new antagonist Safin (Rami Malek). A fast-paced – but rarely rushed – sequence of set pieces and tense meetings follow, gradually folding in major players from the Craig era, including Felix (Jeffrey Wright), M (Ralph Fiennes), Moneypenny (Naomi Harris), and more.
This is nicely balanced with new faces, notably new 007 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch – who’s got a firecracker of an introduction) and young Cuban agent Paloma (Ana de Armas). The former is a smart and progressive choice who strikes a wonderfully competitive back-and-forth with Bond, whilst the latter makes a delightful impression through a mix of youthful exuberance and slick fight scenes.
No Time to Die is a new type of Bond film; we’re seeing the character at an older age, with different goals. Importantly, this is shown, not told, through the way events develop. By the finale, you may well feel emotions you don’t always expect from a Bond film, and I mean that in a positive way. If I was picking out a weak point, it’s that Safin is not as imposing a villain as, say, Mads Mikkelsen or Javier Bardem played in Casino Royale and Skyfall respectively. For me, Royale is still the best Craig film, due to the extra sting in the tail and layer of complexity that brought; No Time to Die – whilst rich with both style and substance – is ultimately a straightforward romp.
Still, there’s no doubt that No Time to Die is a spectacular end to the Craig era. Visually, it globetrots to a range of locations such as Cuba and Norway, and action scenes have that satisfying – and sometimes wince-inducing – heft typical of the Craig films. Meanwhile, Hans Zimmer takes the Bond theme and runs with it in a predictably, but no less brilliant, fashion. Billie Eilish deserves a mention too, for an impactful theme song with appropriate depth. Indeed, the magnificent composition and combination of visual and audio design is responsible for cinematic moments that left me in awe.
No Time to Die is a fantastic closing act. It’s bold, it’s thrilling, and it’s gut-wrenching, packed with incredible set pieces and sharp dialogue. Furthermore, it feels fresh and contemporary, without losing the home comforts of the classic Bond staples. Sure, Safin isn’t the very greatest Bond villain, but another world domination plot is merely the side act. As M even says of Safin roughly halfway in, “Just the usual, then?” The rest of No Time to Die is anything but; instead, you’ll find a heart-racing example of journey and destination – one that may well leave you both shaken and stirred.