This sucks to see the Bond you’ve grown up with ride off into the sunset. It really does. For years, people lament when their favorite Bond or the one they grew up with leaves. Whether that’s Pierce Brosnan, Sean Connery, or any of the other Bond’s throughout history. This was the one that this generation grew up with though. From 2006’s Casino Royale all the way up to 2021’s No Time To Die, Daniel Craig‘s performance has rejuvenated and reinvigorated the franchise with a gravitas and tone it was lacking with the previous couple films. Gone was the jokey, over-the-top action of Brosnan’s final few films, instead replaced by the gritty, dark, and brooding version that Craig played.

He’s been the longest serving Bond, going strong for 15 years at this point. This character is as much his as it is for any other actor to step into it. That’s what makes No Time To Die so bittersweet. It’s a send-off for a character that an entire generation has grown up with, and it’s going off into uncharted waters. The film works on so many levels and gives us glimmers and fleeting moments of every Bond that’s come before him. It’s a long one though, clocking in at 2 hours and 43 minutes. So you’ll need a good amount of popcorn to get through this one.

If you do though, you’ll be left with a conclusion to Daniel Craig’s Bond that’s fitting, shocking, and emotional.

Well-Directed, Well-Acted, And Excellently Shot

This is a beautiful movie. Across the board, every shot here, every vista, every landscape, is absolutely beautiful. Cary Joji Fukunaga directed a hell of a Bond finale and film here. The script by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is definitely weighty. It’s a huge undertaking to finish off an era like this. So while it does creak and the film could collapse under it’s own weight, the script gets the job done. It’s not as tidy or clean of a story as Casino Royale and it continues the plot interweaved throughout Craig’s tenure, it closes the case pretty well.

It stars Daniel Craig as Bond, Rami Malek as Lyutsifer Safin, Lea Seydoux as Madeleine Swann, Lashana Lynch as Nomi, Ralph Fiennes as M, Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Jeffrey Wright as Felix, Ana de Armas as Paloma, and Billy Magnussen as Logan Ash. With a cast like that, you’d expect them all to be magnificent. They are. Fiennes gives a different smoldering and mysterious performance here as M. He makes you question who’s really behind everything and it adds to the intrigue and mystery of the plot. Malek flounders a bit as the villain up until he kidnaps Madeleine and her daughter, he goes full into creepy “step-father” mode and makes up for that floundering.

Other Performances In The Cast

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Paloma (Ana de Armas) in NO TIME TO DIE an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Some might not find Magnussen’s overly-smiley performance here, but it really adds to the character that he’s playing. He’s slimy and can’t be trusted. So that “used-car salesman” smile is perfect for the role. Lashana Lynch’s Nomi/007 could have been a disaster. Thankfully she’s just as badass and strong as Bond is, and in some cases. The film doesn’t hang on the idea of a woman being 007 for very long, and she’s every part an equal to Bond in this film. Quite frankly, the film hinged on her performance and if she didn’t do as good of a job as she did, the film would suffer greatly.

It’s a shame that she’s not in the movie more because Ana de Armas is electric as Paloma. For her short time on screen, she steals the spotlight from Bond. She’s magnetic. It’s a shame that Craig is retiring from the role because these two have immediate chemistry on screen and she would make for a great “Bond girl”. Here’s hoping she makes a return whenever Bond comes back to our screens. Or just give de Armas her own action franchise, she shows off here that she can handle that and then some.

Pacing, Dialogue Volume, And The Issues With No Time To Die

Safin (Rami Malek) in NO TIME TO DIE an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

With a movie that’s 2 hours and 43 minutes long, you’re going to have some pacing issues. That’s just the name of the game. What’re you going to cut from Daniel Craig’s final appearance as Bond? Nothing. The continuing story of Spectre is a bit of a damper on this story because that movie wasn’t as strong as it could have been.

This isn’t as simple and easy as Casino Royale to understand. Safin’s plan for world domination is also convoluted and overly complex for the audience to understand. It involves the Heracles virus engineered by MI6 as a counter-weapon, but is now weaponized. Safin kidnaps Madeleine and her daughter but it’s not entirely justified besides his obsession with her over her father’s murder of his family. It’s not really what’s important here though, because you’re here to see Bond stop him. The rest of the film follows a European-trotting quest to find scientists, double-agents, and Madeleine.

Rami Malek’s dialogue at certain points, in particular the climactic scene near the end of the film, is incredibly difficult to understand. It makes a scene that’s supposed to be emotional instead confusing for the audience. I’m not sure if subtitles or just having him say the lines louder would help. It’s a real issue that clouds the finale of the film.

Action, Joking Bond, And Craig Really Highlight This Finale Though

Nomi (Lashana Lynch) is ready for action in Cuba in NO TIME TO DIE an EON Productions and Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios film Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Those issues don’t take the film down too much. Daniel Craig gives one of his best performances in No Time To Die as Bond. He’s brooding, menacing, sweet, touching, dry, and more in this role. It’s the reason why he’s such a popular James Bond. We get a return to Bond cracking jokes and one-liners, especially near the ending of the film. His banter with Q and Nomi in the final third of the film is just perfect.

The action sequences in the film, especially the ones not shown in the trailers are amazing. This film is a spectacle and you’ll be thrilled the entire time. Some of the set pieces are bigger than others, but one in particular in a forest after a car chase is just vintage Bond. He’s ruthless, he’s calculated, and he’s vengeful. It all adds up to action in the film that’ll leave a definite impression on you.

The story might be a bit overbloated, the villain isn’t super clearly motivated, but this film is a finale worthy of Bond. It’s the last time we’ll see Daniel Craig in the role that we’ve grown with him into. His debut in Casino Royale is still his best story, but over the years, he’s made his mark as James Bond. That ending is sure to tear at the heartstrings of the audience, and it’s the first time that we’ve seen anything like this in a Bond film.

Cues To Bond Past And Present Throughout

Finally, this film feels like a greatest hits of Bond in the past and present. It’s Craig’s most action-filled turn as the character, and it also has plenty of nods to the films of the past. The villain might be disappointing and his motivations might be murky, but this is a film worthy of the tenure of Daniel Craig as Bond. Your expectations for this might be sky-high, but it does the job of meeting them and at some points exceeding them.

No Time To Die releases in theaters on October 8th, 2021.

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