BAXTER — James Bond is back. But star Daniel Craig won’t be next time.
“No Time to Die” was finally released in U.S. theaters Friday, Oct. 8, after the London premiere of the Bond sequel was delayed almost a year-and-a-half because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is Craig’s fifth and final outing as the British MI6 agent 007.
Craig’s swan song is the 25th film in the long-running movie franchise that began with Sean Connery’s career-defining portrayal on the big screen in the feature film adaptation of “Dr. No” in 1962 of author Ian Fleming’s fictional Secret Intelligence Service agent.
Connery was widely heralded as the best Bond in a film franchise that has seen many actors come and go, including Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Craig, with the latter receiving critical acclaim equal to — or surpassing that of — Connery.
“Bond, James Bond” is called out of retirement to help out his friend Felix Leiter of the CIA, played by Jeffrey Wright, and Bond’s boss M, played by Ralph Fiennes, to eliminate Lyutsifer Safin, a villain played by Rami Malek, who, of course, has a plan for global annihilation.
“History isn’t kind to men who play God,” Bond tells Safin.
Bond’s love interest is Madeleine Swann, a psychiatrist played by French actress Léa Seydoux, who in the film is the daughter of an operative of Spectre, a criminal organization led by Bond’s foster brother and nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, played by Austrian-German actor Christopher Waltz.
Swann and Blofeld are recurring characters introduced in “Spectre,” but “No Time To Die” also touches upon thematic elements and plot points of previous sequels making it a fitting tribute to Craig’s tenure as 007. Even casual fans, however, will likely still enjoy “No Time to Die.”
Bond deals with love and loss in “No Time to Die” with a surprisingly introspective and sensitive portrayal by Craig, whose acting chops are on display and make him more than a ruggedly built actor who looks nice in a suit while holding a Walther PPK, Bond’s firearm of choice.
Exotic locales, fast cars, sexy women, gadgets and adventure are all part of the 007 formula that has made Bond a steadfast and profitable franchise for those looking for sleekly produced escapist entertainment and “No Time to Die” doesn’t disappoint in those areas.
“History isn’t kind to men who play God.”
— James Bond
“No Time to Die” is the first Bond feature film since “Spectre,” which received a mixed reception when it was released in 2015 by director Sam Mendes, who also helmed the critically acclaimed Bond sequel “Skyfall” in 2012 that risked killing off a major character in the Bond universe.
“No Time to Die” was the first major motion picture slated to open in 2020 that delayed its release date due to the pandemic. Its producers refused to release the film on streaming platforms, citing the need to profit from the movie that reportedly cost $250 million to make.
Craig is the longest-running Bond in the franchise’s history with “No Time to Die,” which was directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the first American to direct a Bond film in the nearly 60-year history of the franchise. The PG-13 film is nearly three hours long, making it one of the longest.
Craig first donned the iconic tuxedo as Bond in 2006 with “Casino Royale,” with critics and audiences lauding his gritty reinterpretation of the death-defying action hero with a license to kill, so “No Time to Die” will conclude Craig’s 15-year stint as the world-saving spy.
“No Time to Die” currently holds an 84% approval rating among critics and an 88% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.
The RottenTomatoes.com critics consensus reads: “It isn't the sleekest or most daring 007 adventure, but ‘No Time to Die’ concludes Daniel Craig's franchise tenure in satisfying style.”