Review: No Time to Die

No Time to Die is the 25th Bond movie and Daniel Craig’s final film as the suave superspy. Craig’s films started in 2006 with Casino Royal and the seeds planted in that film grew over Bond’s next three films and are at the center of his emotional/internal conflict in No Time to Die.

The film opens with Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) on a romantic getaway in Italy. When Bond goes to visit Vesper’s tomb, things blow up (literally) and he realizes he’s in danger. Of course he escapes as only Bond can, but blames Madeleine for the attack.

Five years later, a secret MI6 lab is attacked and a bioweapon known as “Project Heracles” is stolen. The man behind the attack is known as Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). Felix (Jeffrey Wright) finds a retired Bond relaxing in Jamaica. He’s able to convince Bond to help and that brings Bond out of the shadows and back with his old pals at MI6. The crew is back – Moneypenny (Naomi Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw), M (Ralph Fiennes), and Nomi (Lashana Lynch) the new 007.

Bond and his team track down a scientist named Obruchev (David Dencik) in hopes of finding Safin and locating the bioweapon before it can be used.

No Time to Die is a film that wears a lot of hats. It’s tasked with introducing new characters like Nomi, Rafin, and a new CIA agent named Paloma (Ana de Armas). The film also gives us familiar faces and characters from previous films. The most difficult tasks they had was trying to wrap up four films and 15 years worth of story. 

As far as the plot, the first half of the film…or maybe even the first 2/3 feels like close to the character Ian Fleming created. There’s action, beautiful scenery, stunning women, harrowing escapes, and of course a martini. The final act of the film delivers a very non-traditional. Most Bond movies end with the focus on the consequences if [fill in the bad guy] does [some global catastrophe]. No Time to Die ends with the focus on Bond and a very different Bond that we’ve seen over the past four films. His focus and motivations aren’t what fans of the character haven’t seen before.

Leading up to the final act, the action set pieces are great. The opening sequence in Italy is stunning and provides all the heart pounding action that Bond films open with. The most surprising part of the film is how funny it is. Bond films always have witty humor and corny dad jokes. The humor in this film seems a little more intentional.

Even with the plot and action feeling like more of the same, there was something beautiful about seeing Daniel Craig’s farewell. It was like watching Kobe put up 60 in his last game. It wasn’t the same Kobe but he still gave us a classic Kobe performance that would be remembered. And that was Craig in this film. He gave his all in his final performance as Bond. Yet his performance is memorable for all of the non-traditional Bond stuff that happens.

The most frustrating part of the film was Safin. Outside of 007, Bond is best known for its bigger than life villains.  Malek gives a great performance but it feels like there’s so much more about his character that wasn’t explored. Because the story doesn’t explain much about Safin other than what’s onscreen, his motivations feel week and makes him one of Bond’s most uninteresting villains.

No Time to Die isn’t one of Craig’s best Bond films but it does just enough to make it a fantastic sendoff for Craig. It’s a fun story that’s entertaining from start to finish. It’s always hard to end things and ending things is hard. Daniel Craig’s Bond ending on a high note may be he the most impressive thing he’s done with the character.

Grade: B