Review: ‘No Time to Die’ Starring Daniel Craig as Bond, James Bond

No Time to Die
James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Paloma (Ana de Armas) in ‘No Time to Die’ (Photo Credit: Nicola Dove © 2020 DANJAQ, LLC AND MGM)

Finally, after multiple delays due to changes behind the scenes as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, the 25th installment in the 007 film franchise, No Time To Die, is hitting theaters. No Time to Die isn’t just the milestone 25th installment in the blockbuster franchise; it also marks Daniel Craig’s swan song performance as Ian Fleming’s master spy James Bond after tackling the role in five feature films.

The film begins with the iconic gun barrel sequence and segues to a breathtaking, shocking, and action-packed opening that finds Bond in Italy. Bond’s forced into a fight to the death with some of Blofeld’s hired assassins. Cue the opening credits and the new title song by Billie Eilish.

No Time To Die jumps ahead five years and finds Bond in Jamaica still retired from MI6 and living a peaceful life of leisure and relaxation. Bond’s retirement is interrupted when his old friend and CIA operative Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) shows up asking for a favor. It seems Leiter needs Bond to help rescue a kidnapped scientist who’s created a deadly weaponized virus.

Bond’s initially reluctant to get back into the spy game but ultimately decides to help Felix, mostly due to their close friendship.

It’s while Bond is on the trail of the scientist that he’s drawn back to MI6 with the discovery that a new 00 agent (Lashana Lynch) is looking for the scientist on M’s (Ralph Fiennes) orders.

Bond’s search leads him to Cuba where he teams up with a beautiful and fairly inexperienced CIA operative named Paloma (Ana de Armas). Together, in one of the most entertaining action scenes in the film, they take on armed killers while attempting to save the scientist.

Eventually, Bond’s quest leads him onto the trail of a mysterious and extremely dangerous man named Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) who not only has a connection with his nemesis, Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), but also his ex-lover Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux).

Directed by Primetime Emmy Award winner Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective), No Time To Die is a Bond film that has an outstanding action-packed opening sequence but then suffers from pacing issues, too much sentimentality, and taking itself way too seriously. It’s an overly long, at times sluggish, melodrama with only a few impressive action scenes. The film is missing a key ingredient which made earlier 007 films so enjoyable and memorable – fun.

The first 40 to 45 minutes are the film’s best, with Leiter talking Bond back into the world of superspies. Craig and Wright have genuine chemistry as the two aged spies who only trust each other. They’re brothers in arms and always have each other’s backs.

As pointed out earlier in this review, the action sequence in Cuba with Craig and de Armas fighting the killers and guards in what can only be described as a well-choreographed dance is one of the biggest highpoints of the film. It’s a shame de Armas’ character isn’t in the movie longer; she and Craig have solid chemistry and really click on screen.

Once Bond leaves Cuba the film’s tone and pacing becomes stagnant and painfully serious. It’s almost as though the writers and director thought this Bond outing needed to become a spy soap opera. The scenes between Craig and Seydoux come across awkward and forced. Their onscreen chemistry hasn’t improved since their appearance together in 2015’s Spectre. And the buildup to the scene where Bond’s going to interrogate an incarcerated Blofeld is sadly nothing more than a B-grade re-tooling of a scene out of Silence of the Lambs. It falls flat.

Rami Malek delivers a solid and disturbing performance as the Bond villain Safin who wants to use the weaponized virus on the world – even though it’s never made clear why. That’s unfortunate because due to lack of insight into Safin and what drives him, the character’s sure to join the list of forgettable villains. The best Bond villains are not only menacing but have unique personalities; their deadly and insane plots benefit them greatly in some way. For example, Goldfinger’s deadly raid on Fort Knox to increase the value of his own gold in 1964’s Goldfinger. Malek’s Safin seems to be determined to create massive death in the world just for the hell of it.

Overly emotional and heavy-handed, No Time To Die is a disappointing and underwhelming farewell to Craig’s incarnation of the superspy 007 and his world of gadgets, beautiful women, fast cars, and exciting missions.


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence & action, brief strong language, some disturbing images, and some suggestive material

Running Time: 2 hours 43 minutes

Release Date: October 8, 2021