Daniel Craig’s tenure as the renowned British secret operative James Bond (007) came to a long-rumoured end in ‘No Time To Die,’ but without doubt delivered one of the best Bond experiences since Craig joined the franchise.
A delicately balanced knit of all his adventures through Casino Royale to Spectre, the plot that gets ‘No Time To Die’ rolling was set many years ago. Young Madeleine Swann witnesses the murder of her mother by Lyutsifer Safin who intends to avenge his father by murdering Madeleine’s father Mr. White. After Safin kills Madeleine’s mama, Madeleine shoots him, but he survives. She then flees onto a nearby frozen lake and falls through the ice, but Safin surprisingly rescues her.
Craig’s ultimate Bond oeuvre officially began with an action sequence reminiscent of his introduction to the franchise- an intense foot chase of bomb maker Mollaka in Madagascar in the opening scene of Casino Roiyale, only this time he was the hunted. He had once been in love before and was betrayed.
This time, promising to try and let go of the past so to have a future with Madeleine, Bond visits his late lover, Vesper Lynd’s grave to have a few final words, but his life flashes before his eyes when a bomb explodes in front of Lynd’s tomb- only Madeleine could have known he’d be there.
Bond and Madeleine are subsequently ambushed by assassins led by Primo- a mercenary of Spectre but works for Safin- in what was an engrossing car chase in Matera, but they escape. However, he thinks Madeleine betrayed him and leaves her at a train station promising never to see her again.
Five years on and Bond is enjoying a solo, rather uninspired retirement in Jamaica, but his past soon catches up with him when his CIA friend Felix Leiter and his colleague Logan Ash try to recruit him for a mission, following the kidnap of M16’s Russian scientist Valdo Obruchev along with a weapon of mass destruction Heracles.
Obruchev had been recruited by M to design Heracles a DNA targeting weapon used to spread virus-like nanobots from person to person as a form of collateral damage to the double 0’ agent program. Although originally declining Leiter’s proposition, Bond eventually agrees after encountering the new 007, cocky agent Nomi, who warns him to stay out of the case.
Spectre’s reign had ended with the capture of Ernst Stravo Blofeld, Bond’s archenemy, but when Bond learns about Blofeld’s connection with the disappearance of Obruchev and Heracles, and after witnessing the weapon work first-hand in Cuba, he manages to retrieve Obruchev with the help of CIA agent Paloma and goes answer-seeking from Leiter and Logan Ash.
But Ash is a double agent working for Safin. He shoots Leiter and overpowers Bond, locking them below the deck of a ship and planting explosives inside before fleeing with Obruchev and Heracles. The ship explodes and Leiter dies but Bond survives, and his quest for answers lead him to another chapter from his past- M16, Blofeld, and Madeleine Swann.
Bond teams up with old colleagues Moneypenny and Q to try and get information concerning Obruchev from Blofeld who is in prison. Safin visits and coerces Madeleine to infect herself with a dose of a nanobot poison designed to kill Blofeld, as she’s one of the few people with clearance to visit his cell.
When Bond encounters Madeleine at Blofeld’s prison cell, he touches her and unknowingly infects himself with the nanobot before she leaves. Blofeld confesses to Bond that he staged the ambush at Lynd’s tomb to appear as if Madeleine had betrayed him, and Craig being Bond, reacts by attempting to strangle Blofeld, unintentionally causing the nanobots to infect and kill him.
Bond tracks Madeleine to her childhood home in Norway and learns she has a five-year-old daughter, Mathilde, who she claims is not his. Madeleine tells him about her connection with Safin before they are ambushed by Safin, Ash and their entourage. Though Bond kills Ash and his thugs, Safin takes Madeleine and Mathilde away.
Bond and Nomi infiltrate Safin’s headquarters, a nanobot poison factory, on a controversial island between Japan and Russia, where Obruchev is mass-producing the nanobots. They both kill many of Safin’s men including Obruchev.
Meanwhile Madeleine escapes captivity while Safin releases Mathilde. Nomi, Madeleine, and Mathilde sail away from the island but Bond stays behind to open the island’s blast-resistant silo doors, so that missiles can penetrate and destroy the factory.
He wipes out Safin’s remaining mercenaries including Primo, but is ambushed by Safin, who shoots and infects him with a vial containing nanobots programmed to kill Madeleine and Mathilde. Despite his fatal injuries, Bond kills Safin and opens the silo doors.
He shares his last words with Madeleine via radio, and tells her he loves her, encouraging her to move on without him. Madeleine confirms that Mathilde is his daughter as Bond says goodbye. Missiles hit the island, destroying the nanobot factory, killing Bond.
When Craig first started his campaign, he divided opinions among fans and critics who argued whether his casting was appropriate for the legendary role. From David Niven to Timothy Dalton to Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan, no actor arguably managed to bring more heart and soul to the James Bond character as Craig did.
That unorthodox-style-James-Bond is what has come to distinguish him from the rest. “No Time To Die’ may have been his last Bond outing, but was a befitting way to close his chapter, and if any Bond deserved a heroes’ death, it had to be Daniel Craig.
There were many things to like about director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s ‘No Time To Die,’ the camera sequences and positions, the breakneck speed at which the plot unfolded, characters coming back to reprise their roles after several years, strong performances from all the cast including those who were only afforded little screen time, the thrumming score from legendary composer Hans Zimmer, and its Grammy Award winning original song of the same title performed by Billie Eilish.
We’ve seen many Bonds come and gone, but not like this. Craig has left an indelible mark on the hearts of Bond lovers all over the world, and no matter the direction the franchise decides to take after his reign, there is just ‘No Time To Die’ for the actor’s legacy, as arguably the best Bond ever.