James Bond has gone through a myriad of interpretations in his almost 60 year legacy on the big screen. Sean Connery was the first and introduced a suave, debonair Bond. George Lazenby made a decent effort in his one and only shot. Roger Moore was equally as praised as Connery even if his versions did get a little silly at times. Timothy Dalton could be on the same level as Lazenby and Pierce Brosnan brought his own unique spin on the character before it got radically reinvented.
Now we come to Daniel Craig who introduced a much more grittier, somber take on 007 and made him more akin to Jason Bourne than any previous iterations that came before.
Now with this 25th installment in the series, No Time To Die, Craig and the filmmakers give their audience an intriguing paradox: It's a Bond movie that isn't much fun yet retains a lot of the elements established in the franchise and it sends Bond out on a proper farewell. At least as proper as Bond deserves.
As the movie opens, Craig's Bond is retired and living a tranquil life with his love Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) until he's interrupted by agents of Spectre. Bond returns to service five years later and helps MI6 hunt down a global terrorist named Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) who wants to unleash a biological weapon known as Project Heracles and may have a personal vendetta against Madeleine.
Malek is a good actor, but I think he crafts one of the least charismatic villains when he should be one of the most. I think a lot of the plans engineered by Bond villains are expertly flawed as they don't take into account what happens if the planet has little to none left who survive their ordeals. Malek's character is no different in that department.
As for the fo rest of the film, we get the returning regulars such as Ralph Fiennes' M; Naomie Harris' Moneypenny; Ben Whishaw's Q; Jeffrey Wright's Felix and of course, Christoph Waltz returns in a truncated sequence as Blofeld. Each actor does get their fair share of screen time and director Cary Joji Fukunaga makes their scenes sharp and adds gravitas and only a smidgen of humor.
This is really Daniel Craig's hour and on that level he delivers. From the opening action sequence which features some sensational motorcycle stuntwork in Italy to Bond fighting with Safin in the finale, Craig does his best to sell every second he's on screen. That's a feat that's worthy of praise given 163 minute runtime.
Just as Christian Bale did with Batman, Hugh Jackman did with Wolverine and Robert Downey Jr. did with Iron Man, Craig owned this character and from his inception in Casino Royale to his swan song in No Time To Die, his presence in the franchise will be acknowledged.
As for the movie itself, it doesn't reach the perfection of Skyfall and its plot needs more clarity and less confusion. Not to mention the runtime is a bit unnecessary, but as Bond film goes, it's a fitting finale.
(Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, brief strong language and some suggestive material.)