A James Bond movie is like a warm security blanket. No, really, hear me out.
There’s just something about this most enduring of franchises that is both comforting in its overwhelming familiarity and yet feels fresh every single time you watch one.
Daniel Craig’s fifth and final Bond film (the 25th overall in the franchise) was like that. It was the perfect escapist experience, a welcome return to a semblance of normalcy after a difficult couple of years when the entire world had been thrown into uncertainty and was crying out for a hero to save us all. If James Bond can’t do it, who can?
Following the events of the last film, 2015’s Spectre, Bond has left active service with MI6, choosing to retire into a quiet life together with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). But of course, nothing is ever quiet when it comes to Bond, and he is soon thrust right back into the thick of things when a powerful new enemy named Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) emerges and threatens the world with a deadly new bioweapon.
There is a reason I’ve kept the synopsis of the film this short. There is a lot more going on in No Time To Die, of course, but it is best to go into the cinema with minimal knowledge about the plot and just go with the flow. Trust me, it works best this way, as one of the best parts about this particular film is the actual development of Bond as a character as opposed to being just another caricature of a superspy.
Craig’s run as Bond will be remembered as arguably the most introspective look at the British superspy, having put him through the wringer, tearing his life apart over and over again, killing off his closest allies (we still miss you, Judi Dench) and breaking his heart along the way.
No Time to Die continues this exploration of Bond’s psyche, with arguably Craig’s best performance in the role. Compared to his previous films, the actor seems to be having more fun this time around, almost like he was determined to enjoy it as much as he can before he leaves the role.
This Bond is a hark back to his maiden Bond flick, Casino Royale, when he was still unburdened by the tragedies and heartbreaking relationships that he would have to go through in Skyfall and Spectre (we don't speak of Quantum of Solace, ever).
But at the same time, those experiences have also tempered the superspy to such an extent that we see a weary yet battle-hardened version of Bond this time around, one who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring down his enemies.
But even so, there’s no danger of this being anything but a James Bond film. The gadgets, the suits, the cars, the exotic locations, the Bond girls, the outlandish action sequences and stunts... they’re all there, wrapped lovingly like a warm security blanket around us, comforting us to accept this bittersweet feeling of Craig leaving his most famous role.
Not even the criminal underuse of Rami Malek can stop us from enjoying this fond farewell, though Lashana Lynch's much talked about role as a new 007 is good enough to make me hope for a spin-off for her.
007 has stood firm against the ravages of time, gone through multiple actors, killed off numerous cheesy villains, endured terrible opening songs and groan-inducing double entendres, and still manages to shake AND stir the emotions and excitement with each movie.
The question now is, where does the franchise go from here? With the exit of Craig, a new Bond is imminent. But will the franchise continue in the Craig-led psychoanalysis of Bond or return to the villain of the day format that was more prevalent in the Brosnan years? One thing is for sure - Craig’s time may be up, but this certainly is no time for the Bond franchise to die.
A fitting farewell for one of the best Bonds yet