This review contains spoilers
If you have been excitedly and cautiously awaiting Daniel Craig’s latest and concluding return as James Bond, aka 007, which was delayed multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are in for a treat. “No Time to Die,” directed by Cary Joij Fukunaga, is the fifth and final Bond installment with Craig at the helm, and it doesn’t disappoint.
“No Time to Die” is a direct sequel to “Spectre,” Craig’s fourth film with the franchise. Both films feature complex plotlines and Dr. Madeleine Swann (played by Léa Seydoux) serves as Bond’s love interest once again.
The opening sequence of the film starts out as a flashback to Swann’s childhood, where assassin Lyutsifer Safin (played by Rami Malek) is introduced as Swann’s (and, by default, Bond’s) adversary. The introduction advances our critical understanding of Swann’s complex past and immediately sets the viewer up for a film centered around Bond’s love interest.
Fukunaga cleverly moves between past and present for Swann, and Safin reveals that he was the one who spared Swann from death in her childhood, illustrating a complex power dynamic and intimidating reminder of her amenability. In a chilling dialogue between Safin and Swann, he bitingly marvels at her vulnerability and capitalizes on it to advance his own interest of crippling their mutual enemy.
Contrary to the usual misogynistic pursuits in films in the overall franchise, Bond in “No Time to Die” feels more like a romantic hero willing to sacrifice it all for the woman he loves, and I love it.
The hook of “No Time to Die” was predictable until it wasn’t, and reeled me in through Bond’s prototypical quips, car chases and sex scenes. However, Craig’s Bond, throughout his tenure, deviates from his predecessors in sensitivity and sentimentalism regarding love interests.
The main bioengineered-weapon storyline was nothing overly special. However, as a long-time enthusiast of the franchise with a particular inclination in favorability toward Craig, the end of his reign as Bond merited a certain degree of overlooking lapses in plot for me.
The film attempts to tie up loose ends from the villains of the previous four flicks to defend his future with Swann. Bond continues to wrestle with the villainous organization Spectre in an effort to quell the threats against him and Swann.
This is an excellent time to note that no realistic love story is complete without conflict. Following that logic, a devastating separation between Bond and Swann of course ensued as a product of “Spectre” villain Ernst Blofeld’s (played by Christoph Waltz) calculated manipulation of Swann early on in the film, in which they didn’t see each other for years afterward.
Seydoux continues to deliver emotionally crippling performances throughout her time as Bond’s love interest, locking viewers into a state of perplexity and overall disbelief at the plot twists.
The critical miscarriage of plot is that, beyond Safin sparing Swann’s life as a young girl at the beginning of the film, his motives for pursuing villainy in her adult life are unclear to viewers. This is further complicated by Blofeld, whose return and eventual death in the film overshadows Safin as the central antagonist. Craig’s Bond deserved a sharper adversary.
Bond eventually dies a heroic death after being poisoned by Safin with the biochemical weapon, separating Bond from his greatest love and daughter at once. This ending was both riveting and unprecedented as Bond has never been successfully killed off in the 58-year-old franchise. It was the shocking and impassioned ending that I didn’t expect.
“No Time to Die” bids its farewell to Craig without the conventional sexist antics of the James Bond character, and continues to preserve his integrity as an agent of intelligence and justice. There’s a case to be made for retiring 007 entirely, one that might open the doors for a female protagonist — maybe even the daughter of Swann and Bond.
Criticisms aside, I deeply enjoyed “No TIme to Die” and the crushing ending of the film brought tears to my eyes. The definitive end to Craig’s 15-year era as James Bond leaves behind a death and legacy unmatched by any other Bond. As for who’s next, Craig told the New York Times, “Good luck to them.”
Rebecca Hobart is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @rjhobart