Arts, Movies, Review

Daniel Craig Goes Out With a Bang in Final Bond Film


Eighteen months after its initial planned release, Daniel Craig takes his final bow as the iconic MI6 agent James Bond in No Time To Die, an ambitious and exciting final act for the beloved spy franchise. After a series of release date changes, No Time To Die’s intense action sequences, flashy cars, and gorgeous natural landscapes have made the film well worth the wait.

The film continues with many of the characters from the previous Spectre, including Bond’s arch-enemy Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), the MI6 team of M (Ralph Fiennes), Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), and Q (Ben Whishaw), and Bond’s continued love interest Madeline Swan (Léa Seydoux). 

The audience is introduced to Bond and Swan in Italy. They are enjoying their vacation until Bond is ambushed by Spectre assassins. While both characters plan their escape, Bond suspects Swan of being a Spectre spy and accuses her of betraying him. As each goes their separate ways, Bond decides to retire and reside in Jamaica while he has his 007 label assigned to a new hotshot agent—Nomi (Lashana Lynch). 

While writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (who have been working on Bond films since 1998) maintain the classic cheesy Bond dialogue, this film does a terrific job of blending the dramatic with the comedic. The credit belongs to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, made famous from her hilarious Amazon show Fleabag, who was added at Craig’s request to polish the script and add more humor. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga also has a writing credit on the film, and he brings a grittier tone, similar to his HBO show True Detective, that aligns with the darker elements that have existed in the Craig films since Skyfall.

The weakest portion of No Time To Die lies in its chaotic final plot sequences. The final scenes follow the common theme of “world-ending espionage” through which audiences can rest assured knowing that Bond will save the day. But the movie’s confusing plot creates an ending that leaves viewers unsure why Bond is saving the world in the first place. Also, by the film’s end, the audience’s introduction to the villain seems rushed. The villain really adds nothing else to the story—his only character trait is wickedness, an overused and uninteresting trope. 

The nearly three-hour runtime adds no favors to the twisting and turning plot, yet somehow, through all the smoke, it’s a joy ride of a movie. Each of the performances balances out against the macho Bond, giving the movie a heartbeat and putting more than just explosions and flashy cars on the table. No Time To Die is a film with flaws that can easily be understood and ignored for the sheer fun it provides.

Fukunaga and his team deserve high praise for the action sequences in the film. Well choreographed, it’s easy to be mesmerized by the film when following Bond up a staircase, shooting enemy after enemy as if audiences are right there beside him. Some of the stunts Fukunaga expertly depicts, spanning across the entire globe, are both jaw-droppingly daring and gorgeous. 

The Heights had the opportunity to speak with both Fukunaga and Lynch over Zoom, where both spoke on the challenges behind crafting a film with a significant international magnitude and what lessons they could take away from working on a Bond film. 

Lynch described how working on the film reminded her how many important people are involved with a movie of this scale. 

“I wanted to look at everyone from the director to the DP [directors of photography] to the costume designer … to really appreciate what these departments do,” Lynch said. “We actually get to see the credits roll and see just how many key people contribute to making this bit of art.”

Fukunaga also commented on the challenges the films faced while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and shifting release dates. 

“With each successive push, it became this sort of looming anxiety about whether the movie would ever finally reach cinemas,” Fukunaga said. “When you shoot a movie in IMAX, or you shoot any kind of movie, you know, meant for the big screen, the idea that audiences won’t be able to experience it is probably the worst feeling.” 

After pushing the initial release date three times before releasing it in October, Fukunaga said that with the film’s release, he feels both relief and gratitude. 

“I’m sure a lot more words will come to me over the next week or two as it really does open worldwide,” Fukunaga said.

Featured Image Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions

October 19, 2021