It’s hard to argue that the most iconic movie spy is Bond. James Bond. Based on the character by novelist Ian Fleming, the 007 MI6 agent has appeared in over 25 films, beginning in 1962 with Sean Connery in Dr. No. After almost 60 years, we have seen the role inhabited by Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, and Pierce Bronson in iconic results, both good and bad. The franchise took a darker and grittier direction with Daniel Craig in the role, starting with 2006’s Casino Royale. But after 15 years, we have reached the end of his era with No Time to Die. Was it worth the wait after an almost two-year delay?

James Bond (Craig) has reached retirement with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) after leaving active service from the events of Spectre. However, his peace is short-lived as his old CIA friend, Felix Leiter (Jeffery Wright), shows up and asks for help. The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected. This leads to Bond and MI6 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch) on the trail of the mysterious villain Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), who’s armed with dangerous new technology.

One of the more interesting aspects of Craig’s Bond has been the focus on giving the agent more humanity and emotional complexity that we rarely got to see with the other actors. While not every movie that Craig starred in was gold, there’s been a gradual buildup of someone who lives a life of danger as a field agent who is seeking peace and prosperity. No Time to Die especially brings in elements that we’ve never seen for Bond, bringing everything together in an intricate and poignant story. But on the other hand, we still get most of the classic tropes we all know and love. He wears the classic tux, drives the beautiful Aston Martin during some thrilling action scenes, orders a vodka martini, and says the quippy one-liners. Craig does a great job bringing in the familiar and the new together, while also bouncing off the amazing cast. It was fun seeing Bond interact with M, Q, and Moneypenny, as well as the new recruits along the way. We also get the classic surrealist opening credits sequence filled with so many references and a powerfully moody song from Billie Eilish.

As with a franchise that’s been around for such a long time, there’s a formula that they’ve often stuck to as it’s what people expect from the series. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And No Time to Die certainly doesn’t stray from the formula, which is both a positive and a slight negative, especially with the 2 hours and 43 minutes long running time. There’s always a villain who has a device that will take over the world and Bond has to stop them. While Rami Malek has a very creepy presence in the film, it still feels like a generic foil that MI6 has to overcome. However, as it stays in the formula, it gives the fans what they want, while also incorporating some surprises into the mix. It’ll certainly be interesting to see where the Bond franchise will go from here.

In conclusion, No Time to Die brings together the Craig era in a very neat bow, incorporating all the classic elements of a Bond movie, while also exploring deeper levels that we don’t often get for the character. While the running time may be a bit jarring for some, there is plenty of well-choreographed action, an intriguing but familiar story, and solid performances along the way. If you’re a fan of the franchise, or you’re in the need of a sleek spy thriller, I can absolutely recommend the movie.

No Time to Die is in Australian cinemas on November 11th.

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