First look at ‘No Time to Die’: 7 thoughts on the new James Bond 007 movie

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Daniel Craig in "No Time to Die." - MGM/TNS/TNS

With Tuesday's world premiere of "No Time to Die," here are seven thoughts on Daniel Craig’s promised final go at Sir Ian Fleming’s secret agent and perpetual world-saver:

1. The movie’s good: Serious-ish enough to let us invest in matters of the heart, alongside the copious action, much of which seemingly taking place on planet Earth, as opposed to worst-of-the-Pierce Brosnan-Bond-years cuckooland. It’s swank, retro and nostalgic in its globe-trotting, including sequences in Jamaica — where we met Sean Connery’s 007, some 24 films and 59 years ago.

2. It’s huge but not stupid-huge: Director and co-writer Cary Joji Fukunaga (one of four credited screenwriters, including “Fleabag” phenomenon Phoebe Waller-Bridge) clearly studied what made the best of the Craig-headlined movies work, beginning with “Casino Royale” in 2006. In short: a semblance of familiar characters and archetypes, refreshed. Here, enticed by his CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright, ever valuable) to take care of some SPECTRE business in Cuba, Bond quickly realizes that the dreaded Blofeld (Christoph Waltz) may be locked away in a British cell, but he’s still in the game.

3. Rami Malek plays a pale, Peter Lorre-esque supervillain out for revenge with the use of a deadly, communicable virus that threatens to kill millions. In other words he’s playing COVID-19.

4. It’s the longest Bond yet: Two hours, 47 minutes. Too long, yes. Yet it feels shorter than the shortest Bond on record, “Quantum of Solace,” which was a full hour shorter.

5. The women fully register this time: A certain breed of Bond purist (age is not a factor with these guys) won’t give a rip, but with Lea Seydoux returning as Bond’s true love Madeleine Swann; with Naomie Harris back as Moneypenny; with Lashana Lynch on board as Bond’s MI6 successor; and with a blithely comic turn from Craig’s “Knives Out” co-star Ana de Armas as a nimble operative for the Cuba job, there’s something distinctly different and welcome going on here. Waller-Bridge’s hand in the script couldn’t have hurt. I suspect the joke about “The Book of Mormon” is hers. On the other hand, the lamest kill-shot zingers — “that was an eye-opening experience!” — thud like obligatory throwbacks verging on halfhearted parody, remnants of a time when a female speaking role in a Bond film meant that female was all but guaranteed to die.

6. No time to die, but plenty of time for receding male hairlines: It’s nice to see Craig back with Ralph Fiennes’ M, the intelligence game’s grandmaster when it comes to grave, weight-of-the-world lower lip manipulation. Both actors are in their 50s; Waltz is 64, and at one point he refers to Blofeld and Bond as a couple of “old men” in a world no longer tailored exclusively for their kind.

7. The big finish: You’ll mistakenly hear how it ends soon enough, I’m sure, but the way the storyline takes things, it feels a tiny bit nervy and dramatically quite right. There was, of course, a big delay with “No Time to Die” (I like the Billie Eilish theme song, by the way, though some will detest its mopey romantic agonies), postponed for nearly two years back the COVID-19 pandemic. While I’ll always like “Casino Royale” the best among the Daniel Craig Bonds, director Fukunaga strikes a generally adroit balance of enormity and intimacy here. Also I like it coming out in theaters first, without the self-competing streaming platform option — an old-school premiere for an old-school emblem of the vanished British Empire. He’s different this time and yet the same. Borderline alcoholic, slamming ‘em down like Nick and Nora in the original “Thin Man.” License to kill, of course.

But here, at last, a softie at heart.


Cast member Lashana Lynch attends the "No Time to Die" launch at Ian Fleming's home "GoldenEye" on April 25, 2019, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. - Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images North America/TNS