Review: “No Time to Die” – Daniel Craig returns for one final mission as the legendary British spy

Review: No Time to Die – Daniel Craig returns for one final mission as the legendary British spy

Ben Kaiser, News Editor

James Bond is a franchise I grew up loving. With a long string of movies, novels, and video games, the Bond legacy is one of the longest-running franchises out there. Just hearing that theme song gets me excited to see car chases, shootouts, or Bond just walking around looking cool.

“No Time to Die” is the 25th film of the James Bond franchise and is the fifth of the Daniel Craig series. Unlike the rest of the series, Craig’s films are all connected through a long arcing narrative, uncovering a deep-rooted organization intent on controlling the world’s economy. Craig’s Bond series is also a rebooted version of the character, with “Casino Royale” starting with Bond’s first time as a “00 agent.”

“No Time to Die” is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. As a director, he hasn’t been behind a lot of films. He has directed Netflix series and even the first season of “True Detective” on HBO. He has also worked on screenplays, most notably for this film and “IT.”

Returning to the series is Daniel Craig (“Knives Out”) as James Bond aka 007, Léa Seydoux (“Blue Is the Warmest Colour”) as Madeleine, Ralph Fiennes (“Harry Potter” franchise) as M, Naomie Harris (“28 Days Later”) as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw (“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”) as Q, and Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”) as Felix Leiter. New to the series is Lashana Lynch (“Captain Marvel”) as Nomi aka the new 007, Ana de Armas (“Blade Runner 2049”) as Paloma, and Billy Magnussen (“Game Night”) as Logan Ashe.

Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) stars as the new Bond villain Lyutsifer Safin, with Dali Benssalah (“My Brothers and I”) as henchman Primo/Cyclops, David Dencik (HBO’s “Chernobyl”) as Valdo Obruchev, and a returning Christoph Waltz (“Inglorious Basterds”) as the head of SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

James Bond has retired from MI6, the British spy agency. While living in Jamaica, CIA operative Felix Leiter comes to Bond to help him track Valdo Obruchev, a missing scientist who has created a deadly bioweapon. Bond reluctantly agrees after hearing that his former boss, M, and the British government were involved with the creation of this nanobot weapon. Bond soon discovers that MI6’s newest 007, Nomi, has also been sent by the UK to find Obruchev.

Bond teams up with CIA agent Paloma in Cuba to infiltrate a SPECTRE (the worldwide organization bent on world domination) meeting where Obruchev is believed to be held. However, the meeting was a trap sprung by Blofeld, Bond’s arch-enemy from “Spectre.” A deadly mist full of nanobots fills the room, designed to kill only Bond. Bond survives, but every member of SPECTRE is killed by the nanobot mist.

After losing Obruchev, Bond tries to find answers by talking to Blofeld, locked in solitary confinement. However, Blofeld only talks to one person: Madeleine Swann, Bond’s former lover who he believed betrayed him five years after the events of “Spectre.”

Bond discovers that Swann lives in a secluded home in Norway with a five-year-old daughter (coincidence?). Soon, armed men attack Swann’s home, and Lyutsifer Safin, the man behind kidnapping Obruchev and killing all of SPECTRE, takes Swann and her daughter away.

Bond, now reinstated in MI6, partners up with Nomi to infiltrate Safin’s headquarters (every good Bond villain needs one) on an island between Japan and Russia. Discovering that Safin is mass-producing the bioweapon in his missile silo, Bond and Nomi decide to call in a missile strike to destroy the place. Nomi finds Swann and her daughter and gets them off the island, and Bond fights Safin while trying to get the silo doors open for the missiles.

“No Time to Die” has been confirmed as Craig’s final go as James Bond. In 2006, Craig gave us a new, badass James Bond in “Casino Royale.” He was gritty and brutal in his fights, reminding many fans of Sean Connery’s tough-guy performances. I remember watching that insane chase scene Craig’s Bond pulled while jumping over cranes and running through construction sites after that bomber. The stunt work was stunning and unexpected to see in a Bond movie. The dude even ran through a freaking wall at one point!

This new Bond villain is Lyutsifer Safin. His first name even sounds like Lucifer. He has full control of this nanobot bioweapon, which works by programming the weapon to attack certain DNA. But, instead of holding the world for 1 million dollars, he plans on killing millions with the weapon. His character is the psychological type, even able to get under Bond’s skin.

He’s also the first to threaten children, holding Swann’s daughter as hostage. As far back as I can remember, kids were never part of any Bond movie. It was usually one of the many Bond girls that were in peril or held as hostages. So, this is a first.

Speaking of Bond girls (or I guess that term is getting to be anachronistic these days), Seydoux returns from “Spectre” which is rare for a Bond film. Usually, Bond hooks up with a woman, and they’ll disappear in between movies, never to return or be mentioned again. Armas is also a Bond girl for the film and is in it for 15 minutes.

That was unexpected since she’s in a lot of advertisements, posters, stand-ins, and interviews. Maybe Paloma wasn’t meant to be a main character in the film, but she wasn’t even going to be in more than just a couple of scenes? And she kicked ass in the movie; she couldn’t come back for one more fight at the end?

As a Bond fan, I had a great time with the film, but the ending had me mixed. Nothing’s wrong with it, and it’s actually a really solid ending. Yet, it’s not what you’d expect in a Bond movie. The formula usually goes: Bond fights the evil bad guy, saves the world, scores with the lady, roll credits with the never-aging Bond theme!

But if the Craig movies have shown us anything, it’s not afraid to mix up the Bond formula. The ending is a different approach to the Bond series, and the difference has put me in a slight adjustment.

A traditional subtitle that is often accompanied in the credits is “Bond will return in…” and this film continues it. With Craig walking away, the role is up for grabs; but who? There have been rumors with the studios considering big names like Henry Cavill and Idris Elba taking over the legendary spy.

“No Time to Die” is currently only in theaters.