No Time to Die is Daniel Craig's epic final James Bond performance

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Streamer: Aussie cinemas from November 11

Length: 163 minutes

Score: 3.5/5

No Time to Die has had a tough old time getting to cinemas. Originally slated for release in 2019 (!), the film was first delayed by a change of director (from Danny Boyle to Cary Joji Fukunaga) and then a bunch more times because of COVID and related embuggerances.

Well, it has finally arrived at Australian cinemas, and while Daniel Craig’s swan song as the UK’s sharpest-dressed spy has its issues, overall it’s a pretty damn solid time at the cinema.

Daniel Craig in character as James Bond in No Time To Die
Daniel Craig brings new levels of nuance and pathos to his portrayal of James Bond in his final outing, No Time to Die. Bloke looks good in a suit too, tbh. Picture: Universal

No Time to Die continues on from where we left things back in Spectre (2016). James Bond (Daniel Craig) is still with the beautiful, enigmatic Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), but after an ambush almost kills him, James decides to rejoin the single life and enjoy his retirement alone.

Five years later, James finds himself dragged into action again by ol’ mate Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) who lets our hero know some shenanigans are afoot.

A cartoonishly evil supervillain type, Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), has created a doomsday weapon that could very well kill off all life on the planet and it’s up to James to work out how to end this existential threat.

So, you know, no pressure or anything.

James also has to deal with his '007' number being taken by young upstart Nomi (Lashana Lynch), some potential dodginess from his former boss M (Ralph Fiennes) and salty interactions with his foster brother/arch enemy Blofeld (Christoph Waltz).

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Lashana Lynch in character as Nomi in No Time to Die
Nomi (Lashana Lynch) is the worthy inheritor of the "007" number. Her spicy banter with James Bond (Daniel Craig) is a highlight of No Time to Die. Picture: Universal

The Daniel Craig Bond films differ from earlier incarnations by attempting to create a more consistent dramatic throughline. Bond is still grieving Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), his feelings for Swann are complicated by his paranoia and he bears the scars — both physical and emotional — of previous encounters.

Generally speaking, this makes the drama richer and more meaningful, although it also starts to verge on soap opera territory at times. That said, No Time to Die’s third act and ending are surprising and complex, giving real gravity to the end of the Craig era.

No Time to Die is also, it has to be said, a rather overstuffed film. A chonky boi, if you will. Coming in at a beefy 163 minutes, this is a flick that could have used some judicious editing, as some of the middle section feels bloated.

Craig’s performance as a weary, reflective Bond is very effective and he’s matched well by Lashana Lynch, who develops a grudging respect for the "old wreck". Léa Seydoux does her best, but her role remains a little one-note and suffers because of it.

Rami Malek, who was so superb in both Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody, is little more than a goofy cardboard cutout here. His nefariousness is so extreme he actually feels like a relic from the Roger Moore era, which can be fun but doesn’t really suit the rest of the film.

Rami Malek in character as
Rami Malek plays a character called "Lyutsifer Safin" in No Time to Die. Seriously, why not just bite the bullet and name him "Scarydevil Badman"?! Picture: Universal

Director Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation) does mostly excellent work here, making the globe-trotting feel like a holiday and the action grounded but exciting.

Ultimately, No Time to Die is an appropriate conclusion to the version of Bond that began with Casino Royale in 2006. The wisecracks are rare, the humour mostly subdued and there’s a seriousness here that won’t appeal to those who are just after a bit of action-packed escapism.

This is a film that takes big swings, contains series-altering events, and not everyone will be on board for that. Bond purists in particular may have issues with the ending.

Still, this is a series of movies where once (in Moonraker) a bloody pigeon did a double-take at a hovercraft chase so, you know, maybe calm your tits.

No Time to Die is a Bond movie that contains a surprising amount of emotional heft and ends Daniel Craig’s run on a solid, mostly satisfying note.

Although, for the inevitable next chapter/reboot, maybe we could try to have a little more fun?

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