Disclaimer: Includes spoilers for No Time to Die and other Craig-era 007 films.
After a two-year absence from movie theatres, entering IMAX on Oct. 17 felt absolutely surreal. The mildly nauseating caramel popcorn, sounds of strangers crunching nachos and loud pre-movie trailers would have usually been less than thrilling. That night, they were magical. Especially after the pandemic induced a delay from April 2020
to October 2021, expectations for the newest 007 film were high. We were two Bond fans who could not wait for the thrilling conclusion to this era of the franchise. However, No Time to Die left us shaken but not stirred.
Casino Royale (2006), the highest-rated post-Brosnan film
, set an extremely high standard for Craig-era Bond. It is made complete with well-constructed one-liners, enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat and a compelling exhibition of the emotional (dare we say, human?) side of Bond. With her portrayal of fan-favorite Vesper Lynd, Eva Green delivered a performance so enchanting that some of us still find ourselves under her spell. Although she features in both Spectre and No Time To Die, Madeleine Swann seems not to have the same impact on us — she lacks that je ne sais quoi
with which Vesper stole our hearts. This is not a question of acting — Léa Seydoux gave a dazzling performance. The way her character was written was the issue.
Another character who didn't quite meet our expectations was Safin, the newly introduced villain. After his family had been killed by Mr. White — Madeleine's father — during his youth, he swore to avenge them. Upon showing up at White's secluded home in the movie's gripping opening sequence, Safin only finds a young Madeleine, whose life he decides to spare. Toward the end of the movie, with Madeleine now an adult, Safin seeks her out again, feeling that their lives are connected since he had shown her mercy all those years back. Although this story arc was interesting and clearly had potential, it could have been resolved in a better way.
Further, the mask Safin wore during the pre-title sequence lost its value as a motif halfway through the movie, even though it was his most memorable feature initially. The idea of a villain having a characteristic facade to highlight their evil intentions is a gripping one, with its effectiveness highlighted by the likes of Heath Ledger’s Joker or Al Pacino's Scarface. However, in this case, the mask made a captivating appearance at the beginning of the movie, but later made only one reappearance. Ironically, along with the mask losing its place halfway through, so did the villain's role in driving the story. The classic Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld had the potential to strike back in No Time To Die. His return was set up perfectly with the use of his bionic eye to surveil the outside world throughout the first part of the film. In our opinion, he would have made for a more convincing villain for Bond to face up against in the final sequences of the movie.
Finally, we have to at least briefly address the humor. The franchise overall has seen some masterfully placed one-liners and genuinely hilarious remarks, but very few of them come from No Time To Die. Although there were a few instances that could have been seen as funny, a lot of the dialogue that was supposedly meant as comic relief didn't provide us with more than a quantum of solace.
Let us make clear, however, that there were many aspects and elements of the movie that we thoroughly enjoyed. First of all, the introduction of a female 007 was refreshing, to say the least. Nomi and Bond made a great team throughout the film and, if we had to choose, we would love to see Nomi be the next 007. Next, the action sequences were masterfully crafted. Impressive forest racing and the car chase in Italy featuring the classic Aston Martin DB5, a nod to Sean Connery’s original Bond, were the cherry on top. The hints of nostalgia, such as visiting Vesper's grave, gave those familiar with Craig’s previous Bond films a sense of continuity. The emotional ending was shocking and, in a way, heartbreaking, which I would count among the positives of the movie as it is not something that fans of the franchise are likely to forget. For the last movie in Craig's Bond career, No Time To Die was a great 007 swansong. Although, as naïve as it sounds, I guess we just wanted to see our favorite James happy again.
We would like to emphasize that our critiques don't come from disdain, but rather from admiration for the franchise and all that this film could have amounted to. Due to the continuity throughout the Craig-era films, which had not been the case with other actors' eras, we perhaps expected too much from the final installment. While it served as a good conclusion for the actor's last Bond performance, we were left unsatisfied by the fact that not all loose ends were tied up.
We wish to acknowledge the brilliant performance that Craig has delivered over the past 15 years. With many having been uncertain about his ability to portray Bond, following the much-beloved Pierce Brosnan, our verdict is that he did a better job than we could have asked for. We wait impatiently to find out who Craig's successor will be. But for now, we're off to re-watch Casino Royale.
Morgane Motlik is Columns Editor. Oscar Sapkota is a contributing writer and alumnus. Email them at email@example.com.