It’s too bad Daniel Craig is hanging up his tux as James Bond.
He has never captured 007 as well as he has in “No Time to Die,” his final outing, which opened last weekend.
The movie takes some breaks from the usual Bond franchise’s urge for fast action and takes its time to show the character’s complexity and courage. It does it in a way that hasn’t been done since the era of Sean Connery, who, in the opinion of this writer and many other fans, will always be the best Bond.
There are some plot spoilers ahead, but nothing too major.
This time around, James is retired and living in Jamaica when he’s called back into action to stop some villainy, which ultimately is traced to Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek). Along the way, Bond reunites with former love Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) and meets Nomi (Lashan Lynch), the 007 who replaced him at MI-6.
Back for the action are the talented and coherent team of M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenney (Naomie Harris).
It wouldn’t be a fitting conclusion to Mr. Craig’s run as 007 without Blofeld and CIA agent Felix Leiter, played by Christoph Waltz and Jeffrey Wright respectively. Mr. Waltz also played Blofeld, the head of Spectre, in the 2015 film called — what else? — “Spectre.”
“No Time To Die” throws in a few more Bond gadgets, adds the world’s-in-danger stakes and creates plenty of plot twists and turns. None of the major surprises will be spoiled here, but this is one film James Bond enthusiasts shouldn’t miss.
And Mr. Craig seems more comfortable than ever in the role. The film slows down enough to allow him poignant dialogue and some of the classic 007 puns. It’s not spoiling too much to say — after all, it was in the trailers — there’s an appearance by the classic Aston Martin, complete with all its gadgets.
Ultimately “No Time To Define” succeeds in showing more of Bond’s compassion and his determination to do the right thing and save the world.
This writer felt Mr. Craig’s portrayal of Bond began to improve with “Skyfall,” which excelled in storytelling. “Spectre” was a step down in storytelling, with its best, most exciting scenes strangely being placed at the beginning of the movie.
But “No Time to Die” brings the storytelling quality back to the level of “Skyfall.” And “No Time To Die” succeeds because the writers allowed Bond time to live.
Slowing things down actually can accelerate a character’s development. That’s the case here.
And director Cary Joji Fukunaga and his fellow writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are to be commended for putting the story first. The action is integral to the plot and never a distraction.
While this is Mr. Craig’s final outing as Bond, the franchise will continue with another actor in author Ian Fleming’s iconic role.