'No Time to Die' Is a Fitting Final Bond Movie for Daniel Craig Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga

Starring Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Christoph Waltz, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes
'No Time to Die' Is a Fitting Final Bond Movie for Daniel Craig Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
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The name's Craig. Daniel Craig. His era as James Bond has been split down the middle in terms of quality, with two excellent instalments that breathed new life into the franchise (2006's Casino Royale and 2012's Skyfall) and two joyless slogs (2008's Quantum of Solace and 2015's Spectre). Thankfully, No Time to Die is much closer to the former than the latter, and while it's not perfect, it's a thoroughly enjoyable send-off for Craig's final turn as 007.

No Time to Die leans heavily into the characteristics of the Craig era: the grimly realistic fight scenes evoke Jason Bourne rather than retro Bond, and the plot is a continuation of past films instead of a fresh start. Bond's love interest is still Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), whose past remains wrapped up in the shadowy SPECTRE organization. SPECTRE leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) is behind bars, while Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) is a newly introduced terrorist with his own sinister agenda.

The trouble is, Spectre came out six years ago, and No Time to Die expects you to remember who these people are. If, like me, you haven't watched Spectre since its original theatrical run, there will be a whole lot of "Wait, she's the daughter of who?" and "Hang on, why do these people hate each other again?"

Thankfully, it doesn't matter all that much. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga knows that wide-shot sequences are way more impressive than close-ups and quick cuts, resulting in some truly impressive fights and chases. An SUV chase followed by a misty forest showdown is particularly gripping. And No Time to Die delivers all the usual Bond-isms with just the right amounts of swagger and self-aware irony. There's a "Bond. James Bond," a "shaken, not stirred," and one devastatingly corny dad joke after killing a bad guy. Q (Ben Whishaw) brings out the cheesy gadgets, and there's a fucking sports car with fucking machine guns in the headlights. It's fun while also capturing the grittiness of being a secret agent who kills people professionally (see: a fairly disgusting arm-breaking scene).

There's been a lot of talk about who will play Bond next. While that debate is sure to heat up in the coming months and years, No Time to Die is a good reminder that Craig did a pretty damn good job. (Universal)