One thing is clear by the end of No Time To Die, the 25th film in the James Bond series. Daniel Craig has made his mark on the franchise, creating a complex portrait of Bond that shaves off none of the cool while injecting some emotional baggage into the character. That emotional throughline that started with Casino Royale extends to this final outing for Craig. This film is a goodbye and one that tries very hard to wrap up this stretch of five films. How successful is it? Well, the answer is somewhat. No Time To Die has so much it needs to do to close up shop that it often forgets the things that make Bond films so much fun.
Craig's Bond is a spy who is often looking back, haunted by his history. From Casino Royale to Skyfall to this film, Bond has come of as more human due to the losses in his life. In its early moments, No Time To Die takes Bond back to the grave of Vesper Lynd, the woman he loved and lost in his first outing. Her tombstone explodes, signaling that Bond is not safe and the new relationship with psychiatrist Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) is likely doomed.
The main mission at the center of the film brings Bond out of retirement. A dangerous weapon that uses nanobots to target a specific person based on their DNA has fallen into the wrong hands. This threatens the world's safety. The mechanics of how the weapon works is a bit confusing but all you really need to know is that it should not fall into the hands of Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). Safin is introduced wonderfully in the film's chilling opening scenes. However, as the film goes on he proves to be one of the dullest Bond villains in recent memory. This is largely due to the lackluster performance from Malek who never adds any flare for the dramatics that define the best Bond villains.
With a two-hour and 43-minute runtime, the film rivels Avengers: Endgame in length. This is a long movie that feels long. Yes, it is the final Daniel Craig film and so it deserves to take its time but the film drags often. We already saw Bond try to retire and live off the grid in Skyfall. That film hit many of the same notes that No Time To Die goes for and did it with more grace and flash. The film also attempts to introduce a new 007 with Nomi (Lashana Lynch). She is a fascinating entry into the Bond universe but is rarely given time to shine. It feels like the torch is being passed but from what news stories are reporting, the Fleming estate does not want Bond to be black or a female. It is a shame as Lynch has real potential to carry a film on her own. She is smart, sexy, and different from previous iterations of the agent. The film simply doesn't have time for her. It barely finds ways to send off the supporting players such as M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Wishaw), and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris).
While the film struggles to be a satisfying Bond mission, mostly due to a dull villain, it does do some things right. The send-off of Craig is handled well. Bond is given a reason to care again and the emotional pull he has to save the world is personal and felt. Craig also lets his fatigue show, which gives Bond a kind of sympathetic color that is fresh. He is a spy who clearly is done with being a spy. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga does a great job staging the big action set pieces. There is a fantastic car chase early on that is shot with great clarity.
Overall, No Time To Die will satisfy Bond fans who are eager for some closure. Rarely does an actor who has taken on this role get such a meaningful send-off. However, if you are a casual Bond fan, you may find the whole thing a bit too dense. The arc over these five films is not very clear. The film is forgettable in all the areas that usually define a Bond film. From a dull villain to a lack of cool gadgets, No Time To Die is all about the goodbye.