‘No Time to Die’: How Does the Movie Stack Up to Craig’s Other Films?


MGM / Eon Productions

Daniel Craig as James Bond in ‘No Time to Die’ at the end of the film, about to complete his mission

Micah Green, Writer

The best emblem of Daniel Craig’s final James Bond movie, No Time To Die, is the first 30 minutes. The opener includes Bond staples like a super-powered henchman, a chase, James Bond falling off a bridge and explosions, as well as a Bond first: a flashback to Spectre Bond girl Madeleine Swann’s childhood. One highlight is when Bond, surrounded by enemy vehicles, is seemingly trapped. In classic Bond fashion, he escapes by activating his car’s headlight guns and spinning the car, clearing a path for him and Swann to escape. This scene is thrilling, action packed, and best of all, has no precedent in any of the Bond movies I’ve seen, which is most of them.

The previously mentioned flashback sequence isn’t handled as well. It allows director Cary Joji Fukunaga to flex his skills in the horror genre that he showed in the 2017 hit It. However, it includes many story beats that don’t make a lot of sense. Within that flashback, supposedly set thirty years prior, Rami Malek’s Lyutsifer Safin looks the exact same age as he does throughout the rest of the movie. Overall it’s a decent start to the movie, but not without its flaws. It doesn’t stack up with the Bond franchise, or even Daniel Craig’s best pre-credits scene, which is Spectre’s

At this point, the movie is 25 minutes in, which foreshadows the total length of the film. At 2 hours and 45 minutes, No Time To Die is the longest Bond film yet. The final five minutes of the first half-hour is devoted to the famous opening credits placed in every James Bond movie. The song, “No Time to Die” by Billie Eilish, certainly isn’t bad. In fact, it won a Grammy and was a number one single in the United Kingdom. That being said, no critics have claimed it as one of the best Bond songs, like the near universal acclaim for Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger.” “No Time to Die” is low-energy, much like the rest of Billie Eilish’s discography. It doesn’t really feel like it should be an action movie’s main theme, but rather a neo-noir thriller. That being said, it’s still a pretty good song on it’s own. Notice a trend?

No Time To Die, in most everything it does, is good. It’s not an all-time great Bond film, but it certainly isn’t The Man with the Golden Gun, which is regarded as one of the worst Bond movies ever made. It’s the most consistent Bond movie when it comes to quality. It doesn’t have any high highs, but it also doesn’t have any low lows. When it comes to a blockbuster action thriller in a time when theaters may be dying out, that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the grand scale of the film is great to lure audiences back to theaters after the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s definitely worth seeing in IMAX. This was my first James Bond movie in a theater and it was a lot better than seeing it on a television. Especially because if you want to wait to see it on the small screen, it’s likely that the movie will get spoiled due to its twist ending.

Obviously, a lot of focus has been placed on the star of the film, Daniel Craig. Despite post-casting criticism, Craig silenced critics with Casino Royale, my personal favorite Bond film, which was met with great reviews and commercial success. He also was in Skyfall, which many consider one of the best James Bond movies. Quantum of Solace and Spectre, despite being less acclaimed than the other films, were both financial successes. So, with No Time to Die being Craig’s last Bond film, it didn’t surprise me that Craig gave one of his best performances as James Bond to date. This movie mixed his brash rookie agent from his first two movies with the grizzled, getting-too-old-for-this Bond that has been present in the past two films. Craig particularly shines in the penultimate scenes of the movie, which I will not detail here as to not spoil.

The Shaken: Ana De Armas gives an amazing performance as CIA agent Paloma. If Ana De Armas hadn’t already delivered an incredible performance in another Daniel Craig film where he has a distinct accent (Knives Out), I would call this a star-making turn. If the Broccoli family, who have produced the Bond films since Dr. No, chooses to continue this universe rather than reboot for the new Bond actor, I would love to see her character come back, hopefully in a larger capacity. Another standout is Christoph Waltz, who returns as Blofeld from the previous movie. The two-time Oscar winner is as creepy as he needs to be to increase the tension, but he too is underutilized, only being in one scene.

The Stirred: The Bond movies have often struggled with making Bond girls more than means for the titular character to seduce and ultimately fornicate with. No Time To Die attempts to make Madeleine Swann, played by Lea Seydoux, one of the first Bond women for the audience to care about. Unfortunately the movie fails to do this. Because of Seydoux’s bland performance, Swann feels stilted and one-note, despite having some interesting plot twists centered around her character. Unfortunately, as part of Swann’s larger role, many famed characters get pushed to the sidelines. M and Moneypenny, who were integral factors in the previous two James Bond films, have much smaller roles. The movie is too often focused on giving Daniel Craig’s James Bond a proper ending, rather than the universe it’s created around him.

Verdict: No Time to Die, while not being in the top tier of Bond movies, is an enjoyable thrill ride and a great return to theaters.

Rating: 007/10