No Time To Die is a very fitting end for a very different James Bond.
Published on October 6, 2021
Rating 3.5 /5
The 25th James Bond film truly does feel like a finale for Daniel Craig’s run as the character. Most eras of James Bond don’t really come to an end with a story. They just sort of stop happening with one actor and pick up with another, ensuring the character will never die. The Daniel Craig movies, however, have been a much different beast. James Bond is now given a deconstruction, an arc, a somberness, and, more importantly, an end with No Time To Die.
Craig’s Bond picks up where we last left him after the events of Spectre. All seems to be well with the world after he helped MI6 capture Spectre’s leader of Blofeld. Madeleine Swann, the daughter of Mr. White from the previous film, is now seeking a romance with Bond, continuing this saga’s trend of not making Bond’s romances a one-shot thing. Even his first love from Casino Royale still weighs heavy on his mind.
It isn’t long before Bond’s vacation is interrupted by Spectre once more attempting to assassinate Bond yet again. The expected and exciting action follows motorcycle chases and cars with miniguns. Madeleine is also placed in danger but Bond finds he can’t trust her. Realizing that James is doomed to this life with a repeating pattern, he gives it up. He gives up the girl, gives up globetrotting, and gives up the title of 007. If only it were that easy.
Despite Bond’s departure from MI6, he can’t avoid trouble when the world is at stake. Eventually, Bond comes into play when he happens upon a biochemical scheme when completing a mission as a favor to a friend. He soon discovers that it’s not just Spectre he has to worry about on this mission but MI6 itself. Even worse, there’s a mysterious third party at play who has it out for both Spectre and MI6. Quite the tangled mystery where you can’t trust anybody.
The mastermind behind all of this is the villain Lyutsifer Safin, played with quiet stuffiness by Rami Malek. While much of the film does its best to subvert a lot of Bond tropes, Safin is a fairly tired villain who brings most of the third act down. With his damaged face and obsession with Japanese culture, his ultimate goal is to cleanse the world with bioweapons. That’s about all there is to him. He has an obsession with plants that can cure anything or kill anyone but this aspect is rarely explored. Safin is mostly reduced to making meandering monologues about how humans have gone too far and need to be controlled from his hidden island base. Bond is most likely thinking during these rants “been there, done that.”
That being said, the rest of the film manages to be more in line with James Bond’s current reworking. Though Bond still gets in some jabs, he’s more somber and concerned than ever when bounding into chases and intense shootouts. The heartbreak and tragedy feel real when he struggles to let go of Madeleine and say goodbye to a dying friend. This film does have a “Bond girl” with Ana de Armas wearing a skimpy dress and looking stunning but she’s not just present for eye candy and to fulfill Bond’s sexual desires. She’s there as a CIA agent to kick just as much butt as Bond during a Spectre event infiltration.
Bond’s romance is more with Madeline and it pays off in a big way. He actually has some stake in wanting to protect her and maybe even start a new life. There’s also the big twist in the finale which, honestly, is kinda expected if you’ve been tracking the subversion. There are, however, nice little touches of new developments. Nomi (Lashana Lynch) is a new agent who steps into the number of 007 and has some neat chemistry with Bond. Q (Ben Whishaw) seems to have a fancy for other men in his brief moment of being ambushed on a date. Even Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) has a bit of introspection for his supporting villain role in this plot.
No Time To Die is a very fitting end for a very different James Bond. While this series has had its hills and valleys, it ends on a solid note of stressing there’s more to the spy character than booze, bullets, suits, women, and gadgets. All that stuff is still present but with an extra dose of modernization and reflection to keep Bond a constant at the cinema.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.