No Time to Die (Review): Left Me Shaken AND Stirred

Daniel Craig’s fifth and final James Bond movie (No Time to Die) is out. And it literally made me cry. Tears of joy or frustration? Read on to find out.

Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond is controversial for its interconnected nature. Unlike Bond films of yesteryear, the last 5 movies maintain continuity and build off one another. This is just to warn you that No Time to Die MIGHT be somewhat confusing if you’re behind on the franchise. Ideally you’ll watch all of Craig’s movies to understand the character’s mindset/ background of NTTD, but at least get a recap of Casino Royale and Spectre.

No Time to Die picks up soon after Spectre. James Bond has retired from MI6 and eloped with his lover Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux). But their lives together, though happy, are not without concern. Madeleine’s personal secrets drive a wedge in her and Bond’s relationship, stirring up James’ well-earned trust issues. And the villainous organization Spectre continues to hunt Bond for his role in capturing its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

No Time to Die begins with those iconic and mysterious orchestral notes over the production logos (you know the song, right?). We fade from the Universal Studios globe into a gunbarrel, where Daniel Craig saunters on screen to deliver one last shot to the audience. Here I was struck with melancholy, for I realized I’d never again see Craig as 007 after I left that theatre. I already knew No Time to Die would be his last movie but this introduction made me feel it. The rest of my viewing experience was informed by these feelings: I’d savour the end of an era as best I could before it finished.

Maybe that all sounds melodramatic to you. I don’t know. Keep in mind that I was 8 years old when Casino Royale came out and it was my first ever 007 experience. Craig is the Bond I grew up with these past 15 years and the one whose story I’m most attached to. Nostalgia is a powerful tool for emotional investment, and its bittersweet charms enticed me from scene one.

What James Bond's Producers have to say about Daniel Craig? - CasinosGlitz
Daniel Craig stares intensely, anticipating the action to follow.

The movie’s opening scene, following the credits, was an intriguing start. It offered a brief introduction to the villain and showcased some well-appreciated backstory for Madeleine Swann. The rest of the cold open was surprisingly subdued. Most of it served to highlight Bond’s “retirement” and continuing trust issues with women. Interesting but not super exciting. Then things ramp up just before the action begins and No Time to Die barely lets up from there.

Don’t get me wrong: there’s lots of moments for everyone (audience and characters) to catch their breath. I’m glad the pace was fast though, cause No Time to Die is a long movie! Sometimes I thought “Gee! This movie is going on for a while”. But, when I walked out of the theatre, I checked my watch and thought: “Holy crap! I’ve been in there 3 hours? Didn’t feel that long.” So you do feel the length in certain moments but you’re never bored. And I believe No Time to Die earns its length as the culmination of a 15-year story!

Most of you are probably wondering how the action was, right? ‘Cause that’s the most generally appealing aspect of this movie franchise. I’m pleased to report No Time to Die’s action scenes are exceptional! The practical stunts and choreography are notably beautiful to behold. Dynamic-shooting, immersive-lighting, and fabulous stunt-work additionally combine for enticing spectacle.

Is it appropriate to call technical mass killings (of bad guys) sexy? Probably not. Most certainly not. But Bond movies always have a way of making terrible things look effortlessly cool. Blame our culture’s twisted relationship to violence, not me for calling it out…

No Time to Die ending explained - how Daniel Craig's 007 era ends
007 has always been more of a “blunt instrument” for MI6 than a hero per se.

After 5 movies and 15 years, Craig’s James Bond is no longer in his prime. But No Time to Die is aware of this fact. Though Craig still pulls off amazing stunts and easily handles his own, he fights differently to his earlier 007 entries. He’s more restrained and thoughtful than “rush-head-first-into-danger”. There’s one notable scene where he uses a foggy forest to set traps that’s *chef’s kiss*. And later on there’s a sequence where he fights his way up a stairwell that’d make Daredevil proud.

The other (generally) younger cast aren’t slouches either. Heroes and villains alike make good impressions and are given memorable moments. Many people worried going into this one that new characters would steal Daniel Craig’s spotlight. That’s most certainly not the case! Craig is very much front and centre and his supporting cast is there to… ya know, support him. And they do that quite effectively!

Daniel Craig’s James Bond has gotten something few Bonds have ever received: character development. Many people aren’t fans of his era because all the films build upon one another, but I love it! In No Time to Die, he looks like a relic from a bygone age of espionage. He’s more world-weary and has different priorities in life than he used to. Because he’s older and has more life experience, NTTD dares to give Bond emotional hurdles he’s never faced before. And its execution is handled in a manner which wasn’t entirely satisfying, yet also made sense for the character.

ALSO: This may be Craig’s finest work as an actor out of all his 007 films. A+ effort!

No Time to Die': Rami Malek wasn't afraid of James Bond
Safin: NTTD’s big bad!

Rami Malek played a decent villain (named Lyutsifer Safin). His soft-spoken criminal mastermind was creepy and maintained gravitas. He was barely in the movie though! The build-up to his character was good but we didn’t see enough of him to maintain a long-lasting impression in our minds.

Safin’s villainous plot was more interesting than he was. To be frank, I don’t even know WHY Safin was motivated to do this thing specifically. But since when do badguys always need a good reason for doing bad things? Either way, his plan was scary because it felt plausible enough to happen in real life. I can easily see a scenario where this conflict could become a problem once technology reaches an appropriate development.

Nomi (Lashana Lynch) was a good foil for Bond. She’s a younger MI6 agent who’s still inexperienced. I got the impression she sees Bond as an arrogant old man who’s behind the times, and he sees her as an arrogant young woman who doesn’t know as much as she thinks. Nomi is also a by-the-book secret agent, which would obviously grate on Bond’s roguish personality.

Madeleine Swann was a lot more memorable in No Time to Die than Spectre! I still didn’t come out of the movie as a fan of the character but I enjoyed her role. She challenges James Bond in ways he’s not used to (nor are we, the audience).

No Time to Die review – Daniel Craig dispatches James Bond with panache,  rage – and cuddles | No Time To Die | The Guardian
Nomi and Madeleine prepare for an interrogation.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Ana De Armas’ character, Paloma. Her quirkiness was instantly charming and stand-out in a movie of largely deadpan seriousness/ humour. Paloma was barely in No Time to Die, but she made a real impression!

I don’t wanna break down so many characters as my Many Saints of Newark review, so I’ll just add: the rest of NTTD’s supporting cast was great too!

Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond at least gets a more fitting send-off than most (other Bonds or other characters). I even found it somewhat beautiful in a poetic sense. I certainly didn’t expect myself to be hit so hard because I’m not the type of person who cries at movies. At least not often… I’ve maybe only cried at 5 or 6 in my life (including No Time to Die). And that’s SUPER impressive if you know how many movies I’ve seen in my 23 years. But a 007 movie of all things got me.

I didn’t realize before this movie how much Daniel Craig’s Bond meant to me. As I mentioned up top, his version of the character was my introduction to 007 and the one I grew up with. If he’s well and truly done with the role (which I believe he is) then that’s yet another childhood hero I’ll never get to see on the big screen again. And that’s crushing: both because I enjoyed his work, and because it’s one more departure in a long line of beloved character-actors these past few years. Most of my favourite characters growing up have either retired, died, been rebooted, or stopped being adapted. I’m actually going to write a whole article on this topic in the coming weeks because I’ve been severely impacted by wresting with this fact. So stay tuned for that.

A few other fun notes: I noticed the plot was foreshadowed from shot one of the movie. They did some very clever tricks which I didn’t pick up on until after the fact. No Time to Die also heavily draws from 007 lore. I noticed serious parallels to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in particular, which made me feel less crazy when I realized they were intentional. And, just to put you at ease: No Time to Die neatly ties up all loose ends of Craig’s era. So whoever the next guy is will get a clean slate. By the way: I recommend staying till the very end of the credits. It’s not for much, but still…

My favourite James Bond gets a Pretty Darn Good send-off, which honestly improves the more I think on it.

What will you miss about Craig’s era of 007? What do you want to see in the next one? And what did you think of No Time to Die? Please share your thoughts in the comments (no spoilers please). If you have any ideas for future articles, or any questions, let me know. Also be sure to Like this article on Facebook and share if you enjoyed!

Till next time,

Joe Morin

REVIEW METRIC: Don’t bother; If you’re bored; Worth a watch; Pretty darn good; Must see; Watch it A.S.A.P.

By Joseph Morin

Joe's passion for film and entertainment began at 7 years old when his younger brother demanded to watch Duel of the Fates every day for weeks (on DVD). Joe admired the sequence so much, he decided to dedicate his life to film-making and storytelling. He has a degree in Cinema and Media Studies from York University. Joe loves DC superheroes (especially Superman), the first six Star Wars movies, and arguing about media with anyone who will listen.


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