Daniel Craig’s James Bond will go down in history as the most human of the lot. Before the actor took up the moniker of 007, Pierce Brosnan’s “GoldenEye” was the closest we had felt to the character. In lieu of previous incarnations being live-action avatars of male-empowerment fantasies. There was history. There was loss and betrayal. There were personal and world-altering stakes. Craig’s era of 007 takes the best of “GoldenEye”, and makes it more grounded and realistic. Our Bond is a man as well acquainted with warfare and suffering as he is with slick gadgets and gorgeous women.
This same complexity is also afforded to the supporting characters that make up Craig’s Bond saga. Whether they be tortured villainous souls like Le Chiffre or Raoul Silva, or compromised loved ones like Vesper and M. So many memorable moments and so many fantastic characters but alas, this is the swan song. The final mission for Daniel Craig’s Bond. Will “No Time to Die” be the quiet death of one of the great relics of Hollywood? Or will this be the grand finale that calls for an encore? We’re happy to tell you all that while Craig’s tenure as 007 has come to an end, “No Time to Die” leaves a legacy that will lasts long after the credits roll.
The film picks up right after the events of 2015’s “Spectre”, the titular organisation is still at large, Bond has hung up his hat for domestic bliss alongside his lover, Madeleine Swann. We came in expecting a long drawn-out war with the criminal organisation with a new evil head after Blofeld. None of that, though. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga, while displaying a deep, intuitive knowledge to the world of Bond, has completely wiped the board clean. The plot follows Bond chasing after a bio-terrorist named Lyutsifer Safin as he seeks to weaponise a deadly plague that kills only the intended target. Yes, yes we’re slightly rolling our eyes at the heavy-handed COVID-19 allergory but this plot-doomsday-device serves as more than just a topical checkbox. It also functions as a fitting contemplation on Bond’s role in the world.
For all his debonair charm, Bond is indeed a violent man. A single cog in an endless cycle of violence perpetuated by him and those around him. Much like the deadly bioweapon, he infects everyone who has ever dared to love him with heartbreak and loss. This feels less like a quiet ride into the sunset and more like the franchise’s version of Fox’s “Logan”. Sure there are plenty of fun callbacks, homages and cameos but they only serve to compound on the emotional weight of this tragedy. A story that feels like something Cary Joji Fukunaga was made to tell as he had both written and directed “No Time to Die”. No Bond has ever suffered quite like this iteration, so it’s only fitting that Fukunaga and company see Craig’s saga to its organic conclusion.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, there’s still lots of old-school 007 fun to be had here. In a post-“Mission Impossible: Fallout” world, “No Time to Die” still manages to absolutely thrill with its exciting car chase sequences. Motorheads drooling over the Aston Martin DB5 will definitely get a kick from seeing the car tear through narrow corridors and wide lanes with thunder and fury. One particular chase sequence within a gorgeous Norway forest had us rivetted from start to finish. That being said, some of the shootouts and gunplay do show the fracnhise’s wear and tear over the years. Sorry guys but “John Wick” and “Atomic Blonde” has spoiled us with their relentless attention to brutal detail.
Where “No Time to Die” excels without a question is in its large-scale VFX action setpieces. An elevator scene involving a daring escape remains one of the most innovative moments in the entire Bond franchise. It doesn’t quite outshine the hallway scene in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” (because, what can?) but it was still bloody brilliant!
Daniel Craig once again proves irreproachable as the man and myth, James Bond. We’ve seen his character grow over the years from rookie agent to grizzled veteran and now we see him at his most vulnerable. While Craig carries the character’s signature swagger, he also manages to inject a weariness and melancholic sincerity to him as well. Craig makes good on his reputation and ends his time as the character on a tear-jerking high note. Playing partner to Craig’s Bond is the electrifying Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann. Finally, a worthy successor to Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. Her on-screen chemistry with Craig is incredible as we see her wrestle with her conflicted feelings with the spy. She is no Bond Girl, she is a Bond wife!
Rami Malek’s Lyutsifer Safin has some big shoes to fill next to powerhouses like Mads Mikkelsen’s Le Chiffre and Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva. How does he do? While Malek can’t quite carry the same gravitas and presence as previous Bond villains, he nonetheless makes an impression with Safin. A character who has more in common with a very rich and scary school-shooter than he does with evil geniuses. You do not want to be in the same room with him.
Right, much has been made about Lashana Lynch’s role as the new 007, and we’re happy to report that our fears were unfounded. Fukunaga’s brilliant direction doesn’t paint Lynch as a smug pretender. Rather she’s depicted as a fun rival to Craig’s Bond. She’s badass, whipsmart and has a great sense of humour. We like her almost as much as we adore Ana de Armas from “Knives Out” as Paloma. She steals every damn scene she’s in!
Cary Joji Fukunaga delivers a stunning finale to Daniel Craig’s era as 007. He takes the best aspects of the saga while incorporating bold new ideas to create a worthy send-off to the character. Brought to life by a mature story, fantastic performances and plenty of heart-pounding action. Those coming in blind will no doubt leave with a new appreciation for the franchise. As for fans, there won’t be a single dry eye in the theater. This is one swanswong that will leave you calling for an encore.
Be sure to check out “No Time to Die” when it hits theaters on 25th November!
"No Time to Die" Review
Cary Joji Fukunaga delivers a stunning finale to Daniel Craig's era as 007. We takes the best aspects of the saga while incorporating bold new ideas to create a worthy send-off to the character. Brought to life by a mature story, fantastic performances and plenty of heart-pounding action. Those coming in blind will no doubt leave with a new appreciation for the franchise. As for fans, there won't be a single dry eye in the theater.
- "No Time to Die" Review