Review: ‘No Time to Die’ is the perfect ending for Daniel Craig’s Bond

After 15 years, Craig ends his tenure as James Bond with action and emotion. 

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Daniel Craig closes out his role as James Bond with “No Time To Die,” his fifth movie in the role. Craig played Bond for 15 years. (Image courtesy of MGM)

By Saige Gipson, Staff Writer

The long wait is over. “No Time to Die” was released in theaters last month after being postponed last year due to COVID-19. The film is the 25th in the James Bond franchise, which began in 1962. 

The new film, Daniel Craig’s last appearance in the franchise, attempts to show Bond’s softer side. Of the many actors who have portrayed 007, Craig has worked the longest, playing the character for 15 years in the last five Bond films. Although Craig’s portrayal of Bond usually keeps in line with traditional British stoicism, Craig’s most recent representation of Bond deepens the character by giving him a life outside of spying. 

The screenplay, written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, delivers pathos, horror and humor. Bond mourns losses, teases spy chief M (Ralph Fiennes) and, of course, has to confront his many enemies. The script also shows a romantic side of the well-known character. Bond’s love interests usually die in a matter of minutes, but in “No Time to Die” he is still in love with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the woman he fell for in “Spectre.” 

Although the film offers a slightly different look at Bond, it follows the formula of the franchise’s previous films. Bond and Swann travel through Europe together before inevitably destroying another Aston Martin in a car chase that leads the spy on a manhunt for the film’s villain, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek).

Played by a disturbingly haunting Malek, Safin is a terrorist whose scars are as emotional as they are physical. Malek is almost too convincing in his portrayal of the Bond-obsessed villain — his facial expressions are bone-chilling even without his slow drawl. Safin threatens to unleash a biowarfare plan called Heracles: a project involving a gas that can be genetically mutated to target and infect specific people.

With a runtime of 163 minutes, “No Time To Die” features fresh takes on trite scenes. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga excels in keeping the film visually interesting when it lacks narrative interest. In one scene, Bond and his partner, Paloma (Ana de Armas), are in the midst of a shootout at a party in Cuba. The duo moves past each other and through other people with impressive agility, as if they were performing a dance sequence. The party in itself is a visual treat, showcasing guests dressed to the nines and waiters carrying trays of extravagant food and drinks.

Although most Bond films can be viewed as stand-alone movies, “No Time to Die” leans into plot points and characters from Craig’s previous films — sometimes to a fault. The inclusion of characters and motifs from other films feels gimmicky at times, such as when Bond visited the grave of Vesper Lynd, the love of his life from “Casino Royale.” Lynd seemed to be forgotten from the franchise until reintroduced out of the blue. Despite the oddity, the addition of Bond’s friends and foes from earlier films aids in wrapping up the franchise and granting closure to Craig’s Bond. 

“No Time To Die” is predictable in its inclusion of big stunts, comical moments and suspense. The story taps into emotion while maintaining the franchise’s dedication to fight scenes and brutal action. After fifteen years as 007, Craig’s final portrayal of the iconic character is equal parts satisfying and sentimental.

Contact Saige Gipson at [email protected]