NO TIME TO DIE (2021) is a satisfyingly thrilling send-off for Daniel Craig’s Bond

After 15 years and 5 films, the era of Daniel Craig’s James Bond has come to a close with No Time To Die – the culmination of a 5-film narrative that marks a notable turning point for the wider Bond franchise. This finale sees ex-agent 007 thrust out of retirement when a mysterious villain threatens the world with a deadly new technology.

Anyone looking for Mr Bond to go out with a bang should get excited because this is an action-packed spy thriller that delivers both an interesting plot-heavy story and a fitting farewell for this version of the character. Despite being possible to jump right into this film without being familiar with all of the previous entries, there are notable connections and through-lines that all work to close out this 5-film character arc. This strikes a pretty nice balance to where both casual and die-hard Bond fans can get a lot out of this. It’s a packed narrative that does a lot within its almost 3-hour runtime, hooking you early on and keeping you engaged through interesting little twists and the presence of genuinely intriguing characters. There may be a slight slow patch or two in the second act, but for the most part it’s a fast-moving adventure that keeps up the pace you’d expect of a spy thriller of this calibre.

Being the final outing for Daniel Craig’s Bond, I’m glad to see the narrative is handled in a way that acts as a great send-off that’s well worth the watch. It all gradually builds to a third act that delivers on large-scale action set-pieces and tense character-centric moments that’ll have you locked in til the credits begin to roll. It’s the end of an era and the end of a Bond generation, which is represented really well in this film.

One thing that can very easily impact the quality of a Bond film is the way the villain is handled. No Time To Die doesn’t have the issue of a bad villain, rather it has the issue of how much the villain is featured. It definitely felt like there was a constant threat throughout the movie, however, the threat felt less tied to one main villain and more tied to a general concept – which takes away from the impact. Rami Malek is brilliant in the moments he’s on-screen, so his mysterious villain should have been featured more heavily in order to make a stronger impact.

No Time To Die brings back the talented cast of the previous Bond films, while adding some a fresh faces or two to bring a new dynamic to the narrative. The likes of Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright and Naomi Harris are all great in their respective scenes, committing to their characters and delivering fine performances that emulate the great work they’ve done in the films prior. Ralph Fiennes especially, for the few scenes he has in here as M, makes a pretty memorable impression – all due to how well he plays that commanding role. Then there’s Léa Seydoux, who shines throughout the film as Madeleine. There’s this delicate balance of subtlety and strength that she brings out in her character to make her quite intriguing to follow. Even when she’s not on screen, her presence is felt due to her character’s importance in this narrative.

Another newcomer is the ever-charming Ana De Armas, who is just spellbinding in anything she appears in. She brings a fun dynamic to the film and is able to kick some ass in the process. Speaking of kicking ass, there’s a new 00 agent in town, in the form of Lashana Lynch’s Nomi. Not only is the involvement of her character in the story quite interesting, but Lashana packs this charisma that has her go back and forth with Daniel Craig in some neat exchanges. All in all, it’s a top cast that’s encapsulated by Daniel Craig’s untouchable performance as James Bond. Good luck to the next actor who takes up the Bond mantle, because these are some enormous shoes to fill.

Of course, it’s not a Bond film without its fair share of action. From chase sequences and gun fights to close-quarters hand to hand combat – No Time To Die has it all. It’s not packed full of back to back action sequences, giving you a chance to catch a breather here and there, and allowing the story to progress before knocking out another fun sequence. It knows exactly when to go big with the action and when to bring it down for some character-centric moments – striking a great balance that results in an engaging film all the way through.

In the end, No Time To Die services both its fans that have followed Daniel Craig’s Bond over the last 15 years as well as anyone looking for a compelling spy thriller. It’s an engaging narrative that moves along at a fast pace and only really slows down for some meaningful character-centric moments. It’s a more than fitting send-off for the character, saying goodby with an action-packed finale guaranteed to spark a bit of an adrenaline rush. The only real negative I’d say would be the handling of Rami Malek’s villain. He wasn’t featured enough to make as much of an impact as I’d have liked to see. Nonetheless, this is a thrilling ride that is certainly worth the watch.

9/10

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