Multiple actors have played the character of James Bond over the years. The upcoming release of No Time to Die marks the final film in Daniel Craig’s run as the character. He’s been playing Bond since Casino Royale in 2006, across five films in total. But how does Daniel Craig’s Bond swan song play out? Let’s take a closer look in our No Time to Die review.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been around almost as long as Daniel Craig’s Bond, and one thing the two have in common is a complete story narrative that runs through their films. What’s different is that, with a few exceptions, you don’t need to watch every Marvel Studios film to understand what’s going on in the next movie. That’s not the case with No Time to Die. If you aren’t up to date on the last four Bond films, you will miss out on a lot.
At the onset of the film, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is enjoying his retirement. However, as you might expect, that doesn’t last long. He’s quickly pulled right back into the line of fire as he must save the world one last time. While that may sound cliché, that’s essentially what the movie is, one big cliché. There are some explosive action sequences, and it’s a great payoff for fans of Craig’s take on the character, but remove all of that and it’s a generic plot from a tired genre.
While there’s no time to die, apparently there’s no time to provide backstory either. Characters that haven’t appeared since Quantum of Solace back in 2008 will have emotional scenes in No Time to Die. If you don’t remember the finer details of a film that was released 13 years ago, you will miss out on that emotional beat. While that’s the extreme side of things, it’s a running trend throughout the film. You need to know Daniel Craig’s history as Bond if you want to get the most out of this movie.
Rami Malek gives his all to breathe life into the lackluster Bond villain, Lyutsifer Safin. His motivations are questionable, he has no depth, and other than an indirect connection to Bond, he’s easily one of the weakest villains of the franchise. Even the limited appearances by Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) offer more motivated villainy than anything Safin has to offer.
Very little is done to spice things up in No Time to Die, as the writers relied heavily on the Bond brand and emotional ties to characters from the last four films. The action set pieces are some of the best during Craig’s run, but it’s not enough to elevate the movie above some of the more modern action films. You’ve got the very grounded action of The Raid series, the mystical action of superhero films, and the sci-fi action of movies like Tenet. All of those offer more unique and entertaining takes on action set pieces compared to the tried and true formula of a super spy who never misses and almost never takes a hit.
When the film does try to break new ground, we get Nomi (Lashana Lynch), the first female 007. Unfortunately, the writers one-upped themselves in No Time to Die. While Nomi has a few solid quips toward Bond, most of the film she’s relegated to a secondary asset. She’s either one step behind Bond or serves as nothing more than his sidekick. She never feels like an equal to Bond, or even someone worthy of the 007 moniker.
How much you enjoy No Time to Die boils down to how much you’ve paid attention to Craig’s Bond. If you’re not intimately familiar with the last four Bond films, there’s enough action to keep you entertained, but many of the plot points and emotional cues will be lost. However, if you have studied Bond films for the past decade, this is a very emotional conclusion to Craig’s run as the character. The creative team has made sure that many of the important events that have occurred throughout the last decade offer emotional payoffs in No Time to Die.
Nomi not only takes a backseat to Bond, but she also takes a backseat to the other kickass female in the film, Paloma (Ana de Armas). Early in the film, Paloma helps Bond complete a mission, and is far more useful and impressive during the action than anything Nomi has to offer. This isn’t an issue with the actors, this is a script issue that tries to make Paloma seem a bit ditsy, yet still manages to show off her more than capable abilities in the field, far more than Nomi’s limited action sequences.
Daniel Craig’s final run as Bond is an emotional, action-packed ride that doesn’t take any real risks. It plays very well to fans familiar with the last four Bond films but becomes just another action movie to anyone who hasn’t been taking notes. There are a few callbacks to the gadgets of classic Bond movies, but for the most part, this is a lengthy, straightforward action film with an over-reliance on the Bond name and the audience’s knowledge of the recent films.
About No Time to Die
Synopsis: James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Cary Joji Fukunaga
Stars: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Rami Malek
Runtime: 2 Hours, 43 Minutes
Releases: October 8th, 2021 (USA)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.