“No Time to Die” Review: James Bond Gets the Opportune Redo in Daniel Craig’s Last Spy Portrayal

Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas in “No Time to Die.” Photo Courtesy: MGM

Rating: 7/10

I promised myself not to mention how much of a soft spot I have for director Cary Joji Fukunaga — you need to see his version of Jane Eyre — and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge — Fleabag should be mandatory watching. Yet I’m unable to fulfill my promise because I believe they’re what make the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, No Time to Die, such an up-to-date and quasi-feminist movie.

I’ve never been much of a 007 enthusiast. I like the action-adventure spy genre with international locations and lots of production value but can’t digest very well some of the franchise’s inherent sexism. Yet I’ve been wanting to watch No Time to Die — the movie opens exclusively in theaters on Friday, October 8 — since it was first announced Fukunaga was directing it. He’s also co-writing from a screenplay by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade — they had a hand in penning the previous four Bond movies starring Daniel Craig in the titular role: Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015). But I knew I was completely committed to this new Bond installment once Waller-Bridge was hired to punch up the script.

She’s responsible not only for making sure the movie has well-balanced women representation, but she also contributed to the whole plot and brought the essential Britishness to No Time to Die, according to longtime Bond producer Barbara Broccoli. I’ve also decided to believe she’s responsible for all the jokes in the movie that made me laugh.

Fukunaga on the other hand is quite the complete auteur himself. Even though this is a big-budget studio movie of an aging franchise, his filmmaking idiosyncrasy still shows. He can capture romance and longing on screen in a way not that many directors achieve. He’s talented at continuous takes to fully capitalize on the action elements of the movie — not for nothing, he’s the director behind True Detective’s infamous season one tracking shot. And he even employs some horror tropes — he’s also the screenwriter of It (2017) — in very specific moments of the film to accentuate the thriller aspects of the plot. Every shot in No Time to Die is meticulously framed, lit and dressed for maximum effect and beauty.