Read Our ‘No Time To Die’ Review: Daniel Craig Delivers As James Bond In Most Emotional Film In The Franchise

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There was Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, and now there’s No Time To Die, Daniel Craig’s latest turn as James Bond. And let’s be clear- he’s back with a vengeance.

No Time to Die not only marks a milestone as the 25th film in the series but it’s also is one James Bond film that will make a mark in the franchise because of the twists, turns, and yes, risks in a long-delayed film.

It has been six long years since we saw Agent 007 on the big screen. In 2015’s Spectre, Bond was last seen driving away in his Aston Martin DB5 in Italy with new love Madeleine Swann.

No Time to Die marks Craig’s fifth and final turn as Ian Fleming’s suave and never-stirred secret agent. In a highly successful 15-year run, Craig has taken the series on its most serious and humane ride, an especially emotional roller coaster for the usually unflappable spy we first encountered in 1962, when Sean Connery starred in Dr. NoThis edition expands on all that and leaves us wanting more, but if you wait — as all Bond fans know you should — until the very last image on the screen, four special words give us the promise that there is more to come.

No Time to Die brings us back to Bond’s relationship with Madeleine, played again by Lea Seydoux. Her reappearance marks the first time a Bond love interest has actually returned, believe it or not. I know I was very shocked to see a Bond girl return.

Interestingly, this is the first 007 film to be directed by an American, Cary Joji Fukunaga (of True Detective fame), and let’s just say he does a terrific job managing the action, a compelling love story, as well as a tip of the hat to tradition and the time honored moments we love in Bond movies.

Story-wise, Fukunaga has collaborated with Bond film veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have written all of the Craig Bonds — they have had seven times at bat overall in the series. And with her recent successes, the team invited Phoebe Waller-Bridge of Fleabag and Killing Eve fame to add her own unique touches, a welcome female voice in the proceedings that has an impact onscreen.

As I said, this film starts just about where the last one ended as we reunite with Bond and Madeleine in the hilltop city of Matera in southern Italy. Just before we get there, we see a terrifying flashback sequence involving Madeleine as a young girl, the meaning of which becomes clear later.

As is customary, the idyllic moments Bond and his love are sharing soon take a turn and devilish forces put 007 in danger as a thrilling motorcycle chase morphs into an Aston Martin chase and questions of trust come into play. Soon Bond puts Madeleine on a train, never to see her again. Roll opening credits, which come at the 25-minute point.

Cut to five years later, and there is some sort of kidnapping in a London lab involving a Russian scientist who has some material others clearly want.

Bond finally has retired, left the service and is living la vida loca in his beloved Jamaica. But as you might imagine, his bliss is short-lived.

CIA agent and longtime buddy Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) shows up and drags Bond back into action. The superspy heads to Cuba to rescue the scientist, but the mission turns out to be a bit more complicated than he first thought. And obviously, there is a new villain to stir the pot.

Safin, played to the brutal hilt by Rami Malek, intriguingly has his own past experiences with Madeleine, a plot device that adds a layer or two to the normal relationship Bond has with his villains. It also gives Seydoux more to play with than many leading ladies in the series ever got, though no one is about to forget the late Vesper Lynde from Casino Royale, especially Bond. And don’t fear, his seemingly immortal nemesis Blofeld is back, with Christopher Waltz (last seen behind bars) using his wits and eye-catching talents to make trouble from inside prison.

Among the familiar faces, Ralph Fiennes gets a bit more to do as M and Naomie Harris continues to capably play his right hand, Moneypenny, with a little more urgency than normal and importance, as women in No Time to Die serve as much more than eye candy. You can put new cast member Lashana Lynch’s Nomi in that category as well.

Lynch plays the scrappy and much-younger M16 agent Bond first meets in Jamaica. And she is very fun-and sexy- to have around, especially when she reveals that she has taken on the 007 moniker since Bond retired.

Ben Whishaw’s gadget guy, Q, is back and we get to know him — and his hairless cat — on his home turf for a change.

Back as Tanner in his fourth Bond film is Rory Kinnear, who provides needed support in his mostly-brief onscreen moments.

Among other new cast members, Dali Benssalah’s lethal Primo, henchman to Safin, is the Oddjob of the bunch. Ana De Armas gets to reunite with her Knives Out co-star Craig as Paloma, a feisty CIA agent he encounters in Cuba. Billy Magnussen turns up accompanying Leiter to Jamaica as Logan Ash, a guy who plays it by the book, or so it seems. David Dencik is the Russian scientist Valdo. And of course among the stars of any Bond film are the far-flung locations, this time including the aforementioned Jamaica, Norway, Italy and London.

Fukunaga stages some fine chases, explosions, stunts and a big, hourlong finale on Safin’s isolated island fortress, but there is as much emphasis on the human beings here, their conflicts and complications and complexities, as there is on the fast-moving thrills.

Hans Zimmer gets his first go-round at composing a Bondian music score, and John Barry must be smiling from beyond at the nifty homage to his work from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Its memorable song, sung by Louis Armstrong, figures in this story nicely.

The title song here, another must-have “star” of any Bond film, is “No Time to Die,” sung by Billie Eilish, but you knew that since she and brother and co-writer Finneas promoted it well over a year ago with a music video when they thought the film was coming out then. It is properly haunting, and Eilish has the perfect kind of voice for a Bond film vocal.

The film’s release is on Friday on October 8th (at last!) in the U.S. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson produced.

To this Bond fan, No Time to Die holds a special place in my heart, and at the end of the film, you will know what I mean. All I ask is that you see it in the theater like I did.

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