A great spy movie and fitting, emotional conclusion to the Daniel Craig era of 007.

No Time to Die is the 25th film in the James Bond series and is Daniel Craig’s fifth and last foray as British MI6 agent, James Bond. After James Bond has left active service, an old friend asks him for help with finding a kidnapped scientist who is working with a dangerous villain who possesses a powerful new technology that is unstoppable once unleashed.

While the movie felt a bit too long and I was hoping for bigger and crazier action than in the previous films, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. With its main focus on giving the character a worthy last hoo-rah that focuses more on humanizing Bond than making him a pure instrument of Her Majesty’s Government, this is a fitting end to the Daniel Craig Era. Don’t worry though, he still kicks plenty of ass.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) are enjoying a romantic, honeymoon-esque road trip now that Bond has left active service. Their happy new life is quickly ruined when Spectre assassins (that’s right, the bad guys from the previous film, Spectre) show up to kill Bond when he visits Vesper Lynd’s tomb (his love interest from Casino Royale).

Believing Swann has betrayed him – she is after all the daughter of the deceased Mr. White who worked for Spectre in the previous film – Bond breaks up with her and retires in Jamaica. His retirement however is interrupted when his old CIA friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) asks Bond to help him locate a kidnapped MI6 scientist called Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik).

The only problem is, Bond’s old colleagues at MI6 also want Obruchev and have sent a new 007 agent, Nomi (Lashana Lynch) – Bond’s replacement – to hunt for Obruchev. With so many pieces on the chess board all vying for this scientist – including our new villain Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), complete with an evil grand plan for the world – it’s clear that something much larger is at play. Bond decides to come out of retirement and once again exercise his license to kill.

The Daniel Craig iterations of James Bond have always gone for a grittier and more serious approach to the franchise than earlier films. That said, they’re still popcorn spy blockbusters and hardly serious dramas. Having said that, No Time to Die does up the emotional stakes with prominent and moving scenes between Bond and those close to him meaning the actors have a bit more to work with in this film and it’s resulted in some great performances.

Craig is everything you’d expect when it comes to the action, the charm and the confidence. After all, this isn’t his first rodeo, though he hasn’t let his prior experience with the role make him too comfortable and he delivers 100% in every scene.

What makes this performance stand out just a bit more than the other films is the family and old friendship element that is woven into the story. This allows Craig to remind us that he’s not just a hunky action star who wowed everyone in Casino Royale as he walked out of the ocean in his swimming trunks and has continued to kick ass for four more additional Bond films. But a strong actor who now gets to build on the history of the character that has developed over the course of the franchise and allows him to show the more human side to Bond.

For example, his interactions with CIA friend Felix Leiter is a very different relationship in Not Time to Die than in Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. In Casino Royale his relationship with Leiter is purely professional as Bond is at the start of his 007 career. Now Bond is retired and Leiter is more like a brother to him after many years of friendship. Their line of business doesn’t allow them to have many lifelong friends and while there aren’t too many scenes with the two of them, they’re more heartfelt with much more depth than before.

Then of course there’s Bond’s relationship with Dr. Madeleine Swann. This is the first time where his relationship with a woman spans across more than one film. This is the woman he settled down with at the end of Spectre and in No Time to Die he is finally trying to be in a meaningful relationship and move on from the death of Vesper Lynd. So when this relationship fails with a chance for reconciliation later in the story, it gives Bond a level of vulnerability and humanity we haven’t seen in the other films which Craig portrays perfectly given the style of the movie.

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, Jane Eyre) who also co-wrote the screenplay with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, has crafted a solid James Bond adventure that ticks all the boxes you expect from the franchise with only a few minor things I felt let the film down.

I thought the runtime was way too long to the point where I was fidgety in the middle where the story lulls for a bit. I wasn’t a fan of Lashana Lynch playing the new 007 as I felt she was trying too hard to be cool and tough and just didn’t have the suave that the role entails. They should have promoted Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) as she fit the bill more. And finally, I just expected action that was a little more creative.

While there’s plenty of action throughout and the intro is very impressive, I just thought they’d do some crazier/bigger stunts – you know, the type of stuff Tom Cruise does when he ups the ante in every Mission Impossible sequel.

No Time to Die is a great popcorn flick that’s worth seeing at the cinema and ties in well with the previous four Craig 007 films. With great performances across the board, gritty action and an evil villain whose terrible plan could destroy the world this is exactly the type of movie James Bond fans will love. While there are a few little things that I felt let it down, it’s nonetheless still a great spy movie and a fitting end to the Daniel Craig era. Bring some tissues.

  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Release Date: September 27, 2021
  • Distributor: United Artists Releasing

Originally published on October 23, 2021 at https://www.popzara.com/movies/movie-reviews/no-time-to-die-2021/