When Daniel Craig took over as James Bond in “Casino Royale” in 2006, he gave the franchise a much-needed hard reboot.
We met Bond on his very first mission and Craig brought a little more grit and guile to a character that had become almost a cartoon caricature of the hard-edged British superspy Ian Fleming depicted in his novels written over half a century ago.
For 15 years and five films of varying degrees of success (“Casino Royale” and “Skyfall” are certainly the best of the bunch), Craig has been the perfect Bond for the digital age.
But sadly, all good things must come to an end and “No Time to Die” is Craig’s final mission as 007. Fortunately for us, he’s decided to go out with a (pause, turn head slightly to the side) bang.
Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (best known for the brutal “Beasts of No Nation” and the exceptional first season of “True Detective), “No Time to Die” checks the most important box of a good Bond film by throwing some impressive action sequences our way (a long-shot stairwell fight is particularly tasty).
One vital improvement during Craig’s tenure as Bond is that while he still finds himself surrounded by fine, foxy females, they now can more than take care of themselves and aren’t just waiting around to be rescued or seduced. (A special shout-out this time around to Ana de Armas who plays a CIA agent who is just as formidable in an evening dress as Bond is in a tux.)
Craig’s Bond is actually a fairly faithful dude with only one woman – the lovely and complicated Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) – being the object of his affection for the past two movies.
Other familiar faces that are back are Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny and Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter. The gang at MI6 are out to stop Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) who wants to cause global destruction from his secret island base. Typical Bond stuff.
If you have to fault “No Time to Die” for anything, it’s giving us too much of a good thing. With a two-hour-43-minute runtime, the movie hits some lulls as it attempts to tie up virtually every loose thread from Craig’s previous Bond movies. I appreciate the effort to give Craig’s Bond a complete story arc, but come on guys, this isn’t “Lord of the Rings” here.
“No Time to Die” is a fitting finale for one of the best Bonds ever and while James Bond will most certainly return, Craig has forever changed what it means to be 007. I’ll raise a shaken martini to that.
“No Time to Die” is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, brief strong language and some suggestive material.