“No Time to Die,” which opens in Austin on Oct. 8, is a fitting finale to Daniel Craig’s portrayal of James Bond.
At 2 hours and 43 minutes, it’s the longest in the franchise, but it opens with a huge set piece in Europe and grabs your attention, making it seem shorter than it is.
Craig has always had his own way of playing Bond, making him more vulnerable despite being the most muscular Agent 007.
The movie opens where “Spectre” ended, with Craig and Lea Seydoux as Madeleine taking a vacation in a hilltop city in southern Italy. And yes, Bond is still driving his tricked-out Aston Martin DB5.
Bond is trying to build a new relationship with Madeleine after suffering the loss of Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in “Casino Royale.” So he’s opening up to a potential betrayal — or at least some unwelcome revelations.
It’s also important to note that at the beginning of “No Time to Die,” Bond has severed ties with M and MI6 and is basically retired.
Cary Joji Fukunaga, who directed “Jane Eyre” and “True Detective,” takes the helm with a flair for action and traditional set pieces. “No Time to Die” has a lot of those.
The most enjoyable one might be when Bond goes to Cuba and teams up with a CIA agent, played by Ana de Armas, with whom Craig worked in 2019’s “Knives Out.” De Armas is simply stunning as an enthusiastic, martini-gulping beauty who packs a punch. It’s probably one of the best scenes ever in the Bond franchise.
Another new character is Logan Ash, a CIA agent played with zeal by Billy Magnussen. He’s teaming up with Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) to get Bond to return to duty.
But probably the most important new character, at least for the franchise, is Nomi, a fresh M16 agent who prefers to be called 007, much to Bond’s chagrin. It’s unclear at this point if the new 007, played by Lashana Lynch, will be the center of the franchise’s next film, but it’s possible.
And there always has to be a big villain for Bond to try to vanquish. This time it’s Safin, played by Oscar winner Rami Malek. As it turns out, Safin’s backstory is related to that of Madeleine’s, and it’s a key plot point, but to say more would be a spoiler. Let’s just say it’s a doozie.
Safin, of course, is something of a madman, and he wants to unleash a virus that will wipe out a considerable chunk of human civilization. So it’s up to Bond to literally save the world.
Like Bond, Safin is a loner. But unlike Bond, he’s a psychopath.
It’s fascinating to watch Craig navigate his final performance as Bond. He has been through a lot throughout “Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Skyfall” and “Spectre.” He has lost the love of his life, Vesper, and he has also lost M (Judi Dench).
In press notes, Craig says that his journey as Bond has been about relationships. “Whether it’s with the villain or whether it’s the people he works with, this movie has tackled that head on,” Craig says. “And the biggest themes are love and trust. You can’t really get much bigger than that.”
While those themes are important, it’s the action that Bond fans love. And “No Time to Die” has a blast in delivering them.