No Time to Die (2021): It’s a Good Time to Watch Daniel Craig’s Bond Swan Song

“No Time to Die,” a film that was literally scheduled to come out a year and a half ago mind you, so there really was still some time to die between then and now, is directed by Cary Joji Fukanaga (Maniac, Beasts of No Nation) and stars Daniel Craig (Knives Out, Logan Lucky) in his fifth and final portrayal of James Bond. Joining him this time around is Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, Night at the Museum), Léa Seydoux (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Midnight in Paris), Lashana Lynch (Still Star-Crossed, Captain Marvel), Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal, Fargo), Naomie Harris (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) Jeffrey Wright (What If…?, Westworld), Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained), and Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The LEGO Batman Movie). This film is once again, Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond, the suave 007 spy who this time around, is retired, he’s done with his life as a spy, but when an old colleague asks for help, Bond takes on the job and finds himself down a path toward a villain who will unleash hell to the world with weapons of mass destruction.

Bond. James Bond. These are words that probably come to everyone’s mind when they think of the iconic 007 intellectual property. This is the last time we can associate them with Daniel Craig, who has not only done a great job at portraying the spy since “Casino Royale,” but as of recently, has also been the symbol of letting you know when the work week is over.

Exquisite.

I will admit, as excited as I was to see Daniel Craig give a goodbye to the character we’ve come to know for so many years, I was also a little nervous. The front of my head, all excited and ready to go, was doing cartwheels. Meanwhile, the back of my head, all nervous and timid, was shivering. Part of me wondered if Daniel Craig genuinely wanted to make a fifth Bond title or if he was just showing up for the paycheck. Thankfully, the trailers for this film put those worries away as each one is as action packed as the next. Each time this film got pushed back, it made me slightly more eager to see it to witness whether the thing I was bound to see was actually worth the wait. The film had more that intrigued me on the surface aside from Daniel Craig. Ana de Armas, one of the most objectively attractive and talented actresses working in Hollywood right now, plays a role in the film as well, and this is not even her first outing with Daniel Craig as they both played key roles in 2019’s “Knives Out,” which is one of the most fun films I have watched in recent years. The film was also shot in IMAX 70mm, which kind of didn’t matter in the end as it didn’t play anywhere in the format in which it was shot, but I saw the film in IMAX and those scenes are well put together, even if audiences will not usually be able to fully realize them. This is just speculation and pregame, so how was the film?

Everyone is going to have their personal rankings of the Daniel Craig Bond films. If it were me, I would put “No Time To Die” somewhere in the middle, which is not a bad thing, because based on the decent track record these films have, “No Time To Die” is a fun film to watch and just so happens to be a lovely tribute to the Daniel Craig era by the time it is over. For the most part, the film does not necessarily feel like a finale through the first act, I’d say you get more of that feel through the second and third act. I don’t mind that. Even though the film ends in one of the most climactic ways it could possibly go out, the feeling of this being the end never came off as forced.

We’ll skip Daniel Craig’s performance for a second, we’ll get to it. But going back to Ana De Armas, I think of all the film’s supporting characters, she was the most fun to watch. I may say this with a predisposed bias as I love the actress. I have been excited to see almost anything she’s in since “Blade Runner 2049,” but her character may be the most fun in the movie. I say that because she is genuinely HAVING THE MOST FUN in the movie. There is a scene that takes place in Cuba where she and Bond meet, they get dressed, get ready, and she’s just spewing out the fact, smilingly, that she’s had “three weeks training.” She’s just excited to see whatever comes up in her path. I would love to in some way, see more of this character. Or, based on what I just saw in this film, I would love to see Ana de Armas lead her own Bond-esque spy film. De Armas has one of my favorite performances in the film and her chemistry with Daniel Craig is untouchable.

And this also leads me with my one deterrent with Daniel Craig in this film. As much fun as I imagine Craig could be having on set, his character never feels like he’s having fun anywhere he goes, even for a drink. I dunno. I get it, he just retired and wants to relax, but it feels weird to say that I’m having fun when the main character is not. I get it. He’s out killing left and right, interrogating people, and after a while that can get boring, but I feel like the way Bond was written in this film made him feel less “fun” then he did in other iterations. I get that characters develop and change, and that’s good for story purposes, but I feel that one constant Bond has experienced is that he was genuinely happy to do what he does. It may just be a personal thing. If anything, the best way I can describe Bond in this film, is that he has a lot of the traces that the character had in every film from “Casino Royale” to “Spectre.” He’s badass, he’s kind of stern, and he’ll let out his emotions only when he means to. These are traits I keep in mind every time when I think of this character. But the way Bond is written in this film sort of reminds me of the way Luke Skywalker was written in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” which currently stands as one of my least favorite “Star Wars” films to date. The reason why I bring that up is because Luke Skywalker has a broken personality to him to the point where he almost refuses to associate himself with what made him who he is. If you break down the two characters, Bond is obviously more in tune with his profession than Luke, but still.

One of the big lines of press this movie got before it came out was the fact that there was a brand new 007. Of course, Craig’s character left the service, so it’s only fitting that he got replaced. The replacement, Lashana Lynch’s character of Nomi. I don’t mind Lashana Lynch as an actress. I thought she did an okay job in “Captain Marvel” as much as I think it is one of the inferior MCU installments. Lynch brings her character to life here and there are some fun scenes with her. But there is one part of the film that the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. It’s this recurring gag between Craig and Lynch where the two are throwing these little jabs at each other. On the surface, it’s kind of fun to watch, but as it keeps going, it only feels forced. It sort of rubbed me the wrong way.

As for Rami Malek, who I personally awarded a Jackoff during my first ceremony, he sort of plays the typical Bond villain that has a distinguished look to him. He’s got a suit. He’s got this attitude that you would probably only find in the Bond franchise. The way he’s written in some ways feels cliché, but Malek is convincing enough to play the part to perfection. I like the way he’s handled toward the end of the film. The conflict between him, Bond, and other people whose names I won’t mention, added up to make an entertaining, intense, fast-paced finale. When it comes to the finales in the Daniel Craig Bond saga, this might be my favorite. It’s explosive, it’s brutal, and the choices the characters have to make feel like they have some real stakes.

I will admit, I have rarely exposed myself to anything Bond aside from Daniel Craig, so I have nothing much else to compare this movie to. Although I would love to have a big marathon one day where I catch up on all the other flicks in the franchise. But I would say that collectively, the Daniel Craig Bond saga was a success. I had fun watching this conclusion to said saga. I am glad they ended it where they did. If you like the Craig era of James Bond movies, this may be a fun watch for you. I don’t know if you will put it in the same caliber as some of the other installments, but you will probably have a good time with it. I can say I did.

In the end, “No Time To Die” was worth the fifty thousand year wait we had to sit through to see it. I am glad we got a proper goodbye to the Daniel Craig character. The film looks beautiful. The villain, while cliché in certain ways, is effective. This film blends fun and emotion together to positive results, and I would probably watch it again one day. What’s next in Daniel Craig’s career? Well aside from “Knives Out 2,” which I hope Netflix gives a wide theatrical release (PLEASE. That first one was one of the greatest theatrical outings of my life.), we’ll have to see what the future holds. Either way, his Bond run is complete, and it ended in a satisfying way. I’m going to give “No Time to Die” a 7/10.

“No Time to Die” is now playing in theaters everywhere. Tickets are available now.

Thanks for reading this review! Just a reminder that this Halloween, Sunday, October 31st, I will be debuting my review for “Ghostbusters,” the classic 1984 film featuring creepy libraries, ghost traps, proton packs, and giant marshmallows. What could be better? Well, let me just remind you, this is all part of my upcoming mini review series titled “Ghostbusters: Before Afterlife,” where I not only review the first “Ghostbusters,” but I will also be talking about “Ghostbusters II” on November 7th. I cannot wait to talk about both films, and not long after, I will be sharing my thoughts on the all new “Ghostbusters” installment, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which hits theaters the weekend before Thanksgiving! Which if you’re not from the United States, that’s where turkeys make a plan of attack against humanity to dominate the world.

Also, couple more housekeeping updates… My next review, as far as new releases go, is going to be for “Dune,” my most anticipated film of the year. I have no idea what day that will drop, but I guarantee you will see it by the end of next week. After that, I also have reviews coming for “The French Dispatch” and “Last Night in Soho.” If you want to see this and more on Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “No Time to Die?” What did you think about it? Or, who do you think should be the next James Bond? In no particular order, I would to throw these names into the ring: Henry Cavill, Tom Hiddleston, and Orlando Bloom. Feel free to use em. Or don’t. Your call. Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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