Mr. Craig, you are relieved of duty. After five films, 15 years and a few awkward press statements here and there, Daniel Craig has had his last vodka martini. If there is one thing the man deserves is that he has a memorable send off for a very memorable tenure as Ian Fleming’s 007, so combined with a near two years wait, I can’t even begin to imagine the pressure on everyone involved to deliver a film worthy of all the waiting. Bond and film fans alike though can breathe a sigh of relief and know that they will be in the safe hands of No Time to Die as it closes the book on an era that won’t be forgotten anytime soon in the only way a Bond film can, with suave and heart pounding dilemmas.
Us Brits are used to actors coming and going, having their stint at iconic characters and packing their bags, but each time no matter how brilliant or terrible their time may have been, we at least want them to leave on a high. Daniel Craig has tuned out brilliant performance after brilliant performance and No Time to Die is no different. This character is a more grateful Bond, he’s still as sarcastic as ever but that part of Bond isn’t the dominating part of his personality anymore. Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) at the beginning were to Bond people he worked with, but in No Time to Die, they operate together more like a family, even though Bond won’t admit he is close to them.
What has been a staple of Daniel Craig’s Bond era is how his films have not just been their own single story that stops once the credits roll, Bond’s actions and events from Casino Royale all the way to Spectre is carried over with each film, helping the character of Bond evolve and mature as a 00 agent, the change in how the character has evolved over the films is clear.
One such way is Bond’s attitude towards women. In the early days of Casino Royale, the character of Vesper Lynd was written to challenge the definition of a Bond girl, but the character of Bond was still in that frame of mind of unfairly sexualising women. In No Time to Die however, Bond has found respect for women, the two new female characters of Nomi (Lashana Lynch) and Paloma (Ana de Armas) prove to be not only attractive but able to kick as much ass as Bond does. I think Paloma proves Bond’s change more because when we meet her, she wears a black silk dress and has a bubbly personality. We think Bond will pull off the typical performance of charming her, but when it hits the fan, she is very capable and skilled. She can even best Bond at downing a vodka martini. We have to mention Madelaine Swann (Léa Seydoux) whose is dealing with her own past just as she has helped bond resolve his. In Spectre, I did feel the chemistry between the two needed to be worked on and Cary Joji Fukunaga has at least worked on making their relationship more central, though I’d be lying if I said that it has been completely overhauled.
Onto the action scenes, there is a reason why we single out Bond action as its own category, because there is a slickness to it. It is intense but stylish, there is a coolness in both the character and the creativity. Appearance in everything when it comes to action in a bond film and No Time to Die continues that tradition with scenes where you can feel the “all or nothing” weight that accompanies the story.
I’ve talked Bond girls, I talked Bond himself, now we come to the Bond villain, Safin (Rami Malik), where regrettably, No Time to Die isn’t all that strong in. Firstly, Safin isn’t on screen for long periods of the film and that’s because the film has this world ending threat and the focus is on that rather than the man responsible for it. Therefore, Safin doesn’t really fall into the ranks of villains like Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) or Silva in Skyfall because aside from being this creepy presence on screen, the character isn’t really given much else to do. If there’s one thing he does accomplish however, is that he really does get under your skin quickly.
Over the years, I felt the Craig era Bond films have become more conventional with each one and No Time to Die certainly has the feel of a typical Bond film than others. The big giveaway is the amount of advanced technology and gadgets that are featured. The Aston Martin DB5 with railgun headlights in back, you’ve got a spy plane/submarine and nanobots. In Casino Royale, the only advanced gadget Bond had was a defibrillator. Looks like Q’s stance on no exploding pens has been thrown out the window.
Ultimately, No Time to Die had one job and it performed that job not perfectly but respectfully. Cary Joji Fukunaga has taken some very big risks with this Bond film, probably the biggest risks we’ve seen in any Bond film, which is the biggest compliment you can give to No Time to Die. The action was high energy, the race against time threat was very real and in terms of character relationships, you can witness the effort of change at work. Was the wait worth it? Sure, but I think from now on, the future is one that goes back to the quirky gadgets and extravagant world domination plans and I question whether that is the right step to take.
Nevertheless, it has been a remarkable ride with Daniel Craig as 007, now the mantle must be passed on. It’s been a wild ride for the past 15 years, and in that time, Daniel Craig has quintessentially earned the name Bond. James Bond.
Final Result: 8/10 – Very Good
Have you seen No Time to Die? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: The Addams Family 2