One Last Kill
The Daniel Craig James Bond films have seen their ups and downs in the past 15 years since he embodied the character, and yet the simple truth is that despite a initial controversy Daniel Craig remains the best Bond we have ever had. Period. He has given us the best two Bond films ever in Casino Royale and Skyfall and undoubtedly brought a new genre and taste to the franchise. No Time To Die is the official final Bond film by Daniel Craig and the film does him adjust in embracing that legacy and delivering him a well-deserved swan song to celebrate his tenure. It’s a film that not only embraces the more personal and grittier elements that Craig introduced to the franchise but also pays homage to the higher stakes missions that came before. It’s a bittersweet finale, but one that was ultimately worth the year and a half wait to see such an iconic actor and character get their due justice and finality on the big screen.
no Time To Die follows Bond approximately 5 years after the events of Spectre, with Bond wanting to move on from his past and live a simple, quiet, and secluded life in retirement. However, in true Bond fashion, a Russian scientist has been kidnapped with a dangerous biological weapon that threatens to dismantle the established world order requiring Bond to come out of retirement and take down the latest threat.
Daniel Craig has played this character perfectly in the past 15 years and his final portrayal is no different. He has the perfect balance for suave, charm, grit, and emotion that made his character so iconic. His character goes through quite a whirlwind of emotions and threats throughout the movie that test his resolve and present new challenges that we haven’t seen him face yet. The way that Bond navigates the presence of a new “oo7” can be hilarious while the interactions with Madeline Swan allow you to feel the emotion and the yearning for a more quieter life. The range that Craig possess in this film is undoubtedly one of the highlights, which gives a Bond film that has good emotional weight without compromising the action and grit that we have come to love from these films.
The new characters are all great additions to the cast and mix in well with the existing characters. Lashana Lynch as Nomi, the new 007, is an excellent addition to the cast and does well to service the story. The rules of espionage have changed since Bond has retired and her character serves as a great foray in both budding rivalry and teamwork to Bond’s more grizzled nature. The film never tries to force the fact that she is supposed to be the future of the 007 films, not is that why the character was included in this story. This is Craig’s film, and Lynch’s character serves more in service of his story as opposed to trying to set up new films with her. She is an equally interesting and compelling character in her own right, making it fun to see her interactions with Bond on screen. Additionally, Ana De Armas has a brief but memorable role in the film as a new CIA agent assisting Bond. I wished to see more of her character and I’d be more interested to see her in the future Bond films if they decide to go that direction.
While the film is roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes, it never feels that length. The film moves along at such a brisk and fast pace that allows for great tense action scenes but also quieter more emotional moments throughout the film. The plot follows a logical order of events with minimal derivations that take your focus away from the main story. The return of characters from previous Bond films fits organically within the scope and stakes of the mission and I appreciated that they weren’t trying to pack in so much just for the sake of it. The stakes in this film are extremely high, arguably the highest we have seen from the Daniel Craig era, which makes the brisk pace feel exciting as opposed to daunting. The plot services some of the more emotional and personal elements that made Casino Royale and Skyfall so successful while also giving a threat that grants a grander sense of urgency. That balance was excellent in the film, and made the journey all the more enjoyable.
The action in this film is still as gritty, tense, and exciting as we have come to expect. The opening action sequence is definitely a highlight of director Cary Joji Fukunaga confidence in helming such masterful set pieces. There were numerous moments in the film where I was clenching my fists, filled with adrenaline by the action presented on screen. You see Bond utilize special gadgets, get up and personal fighting multiple guys on a stairwell, and suavely escaping a city while still making a time for a drink. I’ve missed seeing this type of excitement and experiencing those thrills on the big screen.
Rami Malek portrays the villain in this film, and while he certainly does a great job in his performance, the character left a little more to be desired in terms of development. He certainly doesn’t reach the ranks of Mads Mikelsen or Javier Bardem, but his inclusion is serviceable and appropriate to the story. Given that film focuses more on Bond given this is Craig’s last portrayal as the character, it’s okay that villain’s development takes a bit of a back seat. The threat the villain is imposing and coordinating is certainly high stakes and provides that grand sense of urgency the films needs to be successful.
Watching the credits roll on No Time To Die brought a somber feeling and yet one that was filled with purpose and excitement. Daniel Craig got the tribute and swan song he deserved for this character and I thoroughly loved the journey they took him on in this film. While it doesn’t exceed that thrills and tension of Casino Royale and Skyfall, it does an excellent job of living up to the standard that we have to come expect from action films and more importantly, a Bond film. It properly ties up all loose ends and sends Craig off in spectacular fashion. While it is an end of a great era, I’m glad that we got the conclusion that we all have been anticipating for quite some time. Definitely check this one out in theaters!
Personal Ranking of Craig Films:
- Casino Royale
- No Time To DIe
- Quantum of Solace
(A-) Emotionally Exciting