No Time to Die is the latest James Bond film and the last one to star Daniel Craig as James Bond. While far from a perfect film, it is still a worthy addition to the Bond mythos and a fitting sendoff for Craig.
James Bond is, as with many of the modern icons of pop culture such as Batman and Sherlock Holmes, a character that has gone through many interpretations. From the character’s literary origins to the modern films, the character has most often been portrayed as something of an escapist fantasy, a suave superspy saving the world with a gun in his hand and a quip on his tongue before retiring to a lavishly appointed bedroom with a beautiful woman. In contrast to this, the Craig films have stripped away much of the glamour to show Bond as a human being, allowing the character to age with the actor and showing the mental and physical wear and tear that would come with such a life, something that this final film displays thoroughly. The Bond of No Time to Die is tired and ready to cast aside his mantle, traits shared by Craig himself if one is to believe his comments in interviews. Indeed, Craig has often cited the physical and mental strain of playing Bond as reasons for his desire to leave the role.
Craig, and the conclusion of his arc, provide the backbone of the film. Without spoiling anything, the film does more than one thing with the character that we have never seen before. Other highlights include Lea Seydoux returning in her role as Madeleine Swann, managing some serious chemistry with Craig as Bond’s love interest, and Lashana Lynch puts in a fantastic performance while bringing some much needed Black and LGBTQIA+ representation to the Bond mythos as Nomi, the new 007 in the film. While no path has been established for the series moving forward, Lynch would certainly be an intriguing candidate to lead future Bond films. Ana de Armas plays a brief but eminently memorable role as a CIA operative, though lacking in screen time she leaves the audience wanting a great deal more and will hopefully return to reprise the role in future Bond films.
What prevents this from being a truly great film can be reduced to two points. The first is Rami Malek. Malek does his best as the villain, and he does not do a bad job, he simply isn’t on par with the rest of the film. Whether this is the actor or the writing, Malek comes off as a fairly standard Bond villain in a film that needed one that was truly great. The second is the rushed manner in which certain narrative threads are cut off rather than actually tied up. It is understandable to a degree – this is a film that is almost 3 hours long and it is not excessively padded. There was a lot that the final Daniel Craig outing as Bond had to cover, but while that offers explanation and excuse, the problem remains.
All in all, 4 out of 5
Good, but not great.