All good things must come to an end, and the same is true of Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond. There were highs — like “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall” — as well as lows — like “Quantum of Solace” and “Spectre”, and despite its bloated budget (some estimate it to be over $300 million, with some outlets estimating that the film will need to earn $900 million to break even), director Cary Joji Fukunaga and company no doubt hoped Craig’s final Bond film would be one last high note.
The film follows the titular James Bond as he pursues a relationship with love interest Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), which gets spoiled when he is tracked down by angry Spectre agents that have it out for him for locking up their leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz). Believing Madeleine betrayed him, he breaks things off with her, and then retires from MI6, opting to live off the grid in Jamaica. The film then fast forwards five years as MI6 scientist Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik) is kidnapped by Spectre agents who want to get ahold of a secret nanobot weapon that can selectively kill anyone it has a DNA sample of (it’s basically the same kind of tech found in 2003’s “Agent Cody Banks”, except with DNA targeting). The nanobots are harmless unless their target come into close contact with their targets, but once they’re on your body, they’re on you forever.
Bond is ushered back into action by old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) of the CIA to help retrieve Obruchev. However, MI6 has tasked the new Agent 007, Nomi (Lashana Lynch), to retrieve Obruchev, and the two trip over each other. Eventually, the true villain of the film is revealed to be Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) a psychopath who thinks he should use Obruchev’s technology to commit genocide to make things interesting for people. His family was killed by Madeleine’s father, Mr. White (a past antagonist in the Craig Bond series), so he has somewhat of a motivation and explanation to his coldness, but the film doesn’t quite fully develop him, and we don’t even meet him properly until late into the film. In fact, for the short time we see him, Blofeld far outshadows him.
Craig is great in this film, as is Seydoux as this film’s Bond girl, and the two form a believable on-screen connection that’s much deeper than many of Bond’s other on-screen companions mostly because of the story the film chose to tell. Bond fell hard for Madeline, and he never gave up loving her even after their five-year hiatus, and her reappearance in his life is a driving force in this film.
“No Time to Die” is a very nice looking film, boasting great action, fantastic locations, and clever uses of technology integrated throughout that we’ve come to expect from a Bond film during Craig’s tenure as 007. And it has fantastic stakes and great performances from its supporting cast of Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory/M, Naomi Harris as Ms. Moneypenny, and Ben Whishaw as Q. It just suffers from too many antagonists who all feel underultized and half-developed.
Still, it does do a decent job of giving Craig a sendoff, and it does do some great exploration of Bond’s character, specifically why he continues on as a 00 agent despite being fully capable of living whatever life he wants if he’s careful enough. Though he does get to go to fantastic locations each film he’s in, regularly saving the world, and is all-around the best at what he does, Bond’s life is lonely, and because of all the enemies he’s made around the world, he’s trapped on the 00 path.
“No Time to Die” does not reach the heights of “Casino Royale” or “Skyfall”, but it’s a worthy entry in the series that will unfortunately be hampered by COVID-19’s continuous impact on cinemas. It’s a critical success no doubt, unless you’ve expected it to reach the lofty heights of Craig’s two better-liked Bond films, but even an $800 million box office haul is a tall order in this theater climate. According to Box Office Mojo, only two films have reached or come close to that milestone: the Chinese film “Hi, Mom”, which has earned $822 million, and “F9: The Fast Saga”, which has hauled in $716 million. It seems like it will be a while until we see $1 billion earners at the box office, but even if the studio takes a loss on this film, Bond’s notoriety and moneymaking potential will ensure that there will be no time for this franchise to die in the near future.
“No Time to Die” gets an 8/10