October 6, 2021

CINEMA | 007 Spectacle – Daniel Craig Leaves 'No Time to Die'

"We have all the time in the world."
Daniel Craig Cary Joji Fukunaga | No Time to Die | James Bond 007
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Universal Pictures
Daniel Craig triumphantly returns for his final James Bond outing in director Cary Joji Fukunaga's long-awaited, much-delayed action jam-packed spy melodrama blockbuster spectacle, No Time to Die. This 007 entry is a sprawling but surprisingly emotional chapter aiming to rewrite and definitely finish off Craig's five-film legacy starting out with Casino Royale.

It's unexpected but mostly welcome how central Léa Seydoux's returning Swann is to tying up Bond's last mission as much more than a typical "Bond girl". Her past and link to the SPECTRE terrorist organization unlock the film's twisty story and his return to MI-6 out of self-imposed retirement in Jamaica while leading them to Rami Malek's forgettably bland villain Safin, a disfigured poison merchant villain haunted by tragedy, set up to come between our characters.

In an interesting twist, Lashana Lynch's Nomi replaces 007 in rank and codename. This allows for her and Craig to have a buddy cop-type chemistry for the climax. Aided by the ensemble cast of now Bond veterans in Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Ben Whishaw, Ralph Fiennes, and Christoph Waltz, it seems as if the producer, Eon Productions, really wanted to end Craig's tenure with the highest stakes possible in addition to thematically remixing elements from Bond's storied cinematic history.

Daniel Craig Cary Joji Fukunaga | No Time to Die | James Bond 007

Written by regular 007 stewards Neal Purvis and Robert Wade alongside Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the 163-minute film packs so much into it with long stretches that feel like their own film or episode within a much larger framework. Fukunaga sets a slow, deliberate pace to unpack Bond's journey and inner turmoil throughout the previous four entries.

There's so much thrilling action to the film in between extended moments of high drama, it becomes sort of dizzying yet still exhilarating. A stunning Ana de Armas shows up briefly as a Cuban CIA agent for a single party sequence before declaring her appearance over with such plenty stylish verve and whit. In so many ways, it feels like Craig and the producers tried to do include every single Bond trademark here before he gave up his tuxedo for good.

No Time to Die does justice to Craig's portrayal and storyline. It cements him as the definitive Bond in a cinematic sense despite the inconsistency of his filmography. This outing touches on all the hallmarks of the franchise from the gritty and serious to the silly and absurd with shades of Roger Moore. Bond finally looks backward for Craig's final mission for equal parts drama and fun.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / ScreenCrush

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