MOVIE REVIEWS

REVIEW: Daniel Craig’s James Bond Faces His Endgame in ‘No Time To Die’

Oct 7, 2021, 10:48 AM

SALT LAKE CITY — He’s the super-spy who needs no introduction, because we know his name:  Bond. James Bond.

After 15 years with Daniel Craig in the lead role, the fifth and final chapter of his amazing run, “No Time To Die” is finally in theaters.  Fans have been waiting almost two years for this as its original release date was Thanksgiving of 2019, but production delays during filming got it pushed into early 2020. Then the pandemic hit just a few weeks before it was supposed to come to theaters in April 2020, which caused MGM to delay it twice more before finally locking on and staying with an October 2021 release.

I actually think this delay may have worked to the fans’ advantage, because what a final chapter it is for Daniel Craig’s version of Bond!

THE STORY

Five years after the capture of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), James Bond has left active service as a secret agent and is living the retired life in a beach house in Jamaica. However, his peace doesn’t last long before he’s approached by his old friend from the CIA, Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), who tells him they need help finding a missing eastern European scientist.

When it becomes apparent that the scientist has been abducted, and that he may be involved with a project being run by Bond’s old MI-6 boss M (Ralph Fiennes), Bond must decide if he’s willing to return to active service and put his life on the line once again to help save the world.

If he does, he’ll have to cross paths with allies and enemies, both old and new, as well as confronting a villain whose schemes, if successful, could mean the death of millions.

LIKES

Craig hasn’t lost a step in his action scenes, which include a motorcycle chase, multiple car chases, and hand-to-hand battles with a variety of people.  Nor has ability to switch from a naturally suave demeanor at one moment, to blazing intensity the next.  It still feels like he’s Her Majesty’s sledgehammer as he charges, often recklessly, into deadly scenarios, rather than a precise surgical scalpel–which is what set him apart from past versions of Bond.

His surrounding cast is excellent.  In addition to those already mentioned, Léa Seydoux returns as Dr. Madeleine Swann, as well as Ben Whishaw as Q and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny.  Joining them are newcomers Lashana Lynch, as Bond’s tough-as-nails replacement in the Double-0 program, Ana de Armas as Paloma, a CIA operative in Cuba (that we’ll hopefully get to see more in the future), and Billy Magnussen as Logan, a straight-arrow CIA agent who gets a nickname from Bond that will be hilarious to many Utahans.

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.

And then there’s the villain. Oscar-winner Rami Malek joins up as the bad guy, Safin, who has a connection to someone from Bond’s past (but honestly, at this point in Daniel Craig’s run, pretty much EVERYONE seems to have a connection to Bond’s past.)

Rami Malek (Safin) on the set of
NO TIME TO DIE,
an EON Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios film
Credit: Nicola Dove
© 2021 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Malek does a good job of portraying someone psychotic and unpredictable, but also with a detached numbness to reality that adds an extra-creepy layer.  I actually thought, up until the final sequence of the movie where he kind of went sideways, that he was very a well-written character and one of the better Bond villains in all of the 25 movies.

Speaking of the 25 movies, “No Time To Die” spends a lot of time trying to connect many story threads from at least the past five movies, as well as paying homage to Bond films even further in the past, including a song that goes all the way back to one of the first (and least-remembered) movies in the series.

But writers , , Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Cary Joji Fukunaga (who also directed the movie) seemed to be intent on picking up and finishing off every single story thread from “Casino Royale” on—hence the reason I thought it felt like “Avengers: Endgame” in that regard (in addition to the similarly crazy-long run time of 2 hours and 45 minutes).

The plus side of the long run-time is that we get extra time to enjoy a story that I found in general to be exciting and epic, with many emotional moments—not just for Bond, but for other characters as well, and for those of us viewers who may also be James Bond fans.  We had to wait a long time to watch this denouement to this Craig’s run in the series, which many consider their favorite version of Bond, so not being in a rush to end the movie too quickly may actually be appreciated.

WARNINGS

“No Time To Die” is rated PG-13 for scenes of violence and action, some brief strong language, suggestive materials and suggestive images.  Honestly, there wasn’t any content more worrisome than the usual Bond movie contains, so if parents are OK letting their kids watch the others, they’re probably good here too.

On that subject, it really helps to have seen most, if not all, the previous four Bond movies (“Casino Royale“, “Quantum of Solace“, “Skyfall” and “Spectre“) to fully appreciate this final chapter.  If you don’t have time for all that, at least watch 2015’s “Spectre” to give yourself a refresh and proper lead-in to this movie.

But the biggest warning is that 2 hour and 45 minute run time.  Make sure you don’t drink too much before or during the movie or the ending could be very physically uncomfortable for you, if you catch my drift.  And that’s only because you don’t want to have to run to the restroom and miss what’s happening, especially on your first time watching it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Potential bladder issues aside, I think most every James Bond fan will enjoy “No Time To Die”.  Whether it’s because of the long wait, finally getting to see the final chapter of the long-game story that we’ve been following for 15 years, or just knowing it’s Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, it felt pretty satisfying to me.

It’s not perfect, but it’s exciting, suspenseful, nostalgic and even a bit emotional.  It’s a definitive and emphatic end of an era and a heck of a way to go out for Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond.

WHERE IT’S PLAYING

If you want to see “No Time To Die”, there’s only one way to do it and that’s in theaters.  There’s even a little message to viewers at the beginning of the movie from Daniel Craig, thanking you for your patience with all the release delays so you could see the movie as it was meant to be seen…on the big screen.

Interested in this movie?  Watch the video at the top of the page for my full, in-depth review & final rating.


Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth is the movie and pop culture guy for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out some of his other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on KSLTV.com.

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REVIEW: Daniel Craig’s James Bond Faces His Endgame in ‘No Time To Die’