Daniel Craig stars No Time to Die, his fifth movie as British superspy 007.
If you are an actor who happens to be British, then odds are you will probably play one of two characters sometime in your career: The Doctor (of Doctor Who fame; call him “Doctor Who” around a Whovian and you will probably be drawn and quartered) or James Bond.
Okay, this is an exaggeration (duh), but both characters do have a surprising amount of longevity for a nation that regularly cancels successful television shows after six episodes. This being said, I was, naturally, a bit skeptical when I saw that No Time to Die was being advertised as the grand finale of everyone’s favorite chauvinistic superspy. One thing was for certain, however: After five movies and 15 years in the role, it would at very least be Daniel Craig’s last outing as the character, and No Time to Die turned out to be the perfect swan song to his modern-Bond era.
If I had to describe Craig’s tenure as 007 in two words they would be “gritty” (sometimes to a fault) and “deeper.” No, the movies are not epic character dramas full of Shakespearean acting and thoughtful dissections of the human psyche, but they at least gave Bond some character other than “suave spy who spouts one-liners between shags and martinis,” and nowhere is this more apparent than in No Time to Die, which, like Skyfall before it, actually allows Craig to give a fairly moving performance. And while it is still “gritty” and fairly “realistic,” No Time to Die finally allows the series to be fun again as well. The gadgets are back (including the beloved souped-up Aston Martin), his allies are all in on the game (including Ralph Fiennes as M, Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, Naomi Harris as Monepenny, and Ben Whishaw as Q) and the script may surprise you with a post-kill pun here and there as well as Bond battles against Rami Malek’s sinister Lyutsifer Safin and Christoph Waltz’s iconic Blofeld. It seems as if finally, at the end, Craig’s series has struck a perfect balance between serious and silly.
But all is not perfect in No Time to Die. For one thing, it lacks the giant action set pieces that have been a trademark of the series for decades, opting instead for isolated spurts of violence that are separated by a whole lot of exposition. Good exposition, mind you, but those going into the movie expecting non-stop action for the entire two hour and forty-three minute runtime will be a bit disappointed. The plot is also pretty straightforward, which I appreciated and liked, but others might see it as undaring or even underwhelming. All I know is that I enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to tie my brain in knots just to understand why some guy was punching another guy.
Daniel Craig may have taken his bow, but No Time to Die proves that James Bond himself still has plenty of places to go. If you have a British accent (or can at least fake one well enough), then who knows. Maybe you can be the one to take him there someday. Time is certainly on your side.
No Time to Die is now playing exclusively in theaters.