Daniel Craig’s latest movie as 007 is a recapitulation of the saga as well as one of his most daring films to date.
The most challenging aspect to tackling a film myth like Bond is not in failing to preserve its essence, but instead in sustainably maturing the concept. In this sense, Daniel Craig’s epoque has been an exercise as risqué as it has been suggestive, bearing in mind that his initial remit was to relaunch the brand (“Casino Royale” continued on from the exact moment of his first mission as 007) and filmmakers have consigned themselves the storyline reconstruction of the character’s code in an effort to endow him with his own particular identity. This has been achieved mainly through interconnecting plots, stripping 007 of most of those cheesy clichés and, above all, how Daniel Craig’s tremendous artistic talent as a performer has been principally responsible for configuring the character. There are those who would have us believe that he’s an anomaly or even worse, a betrayal to the spirit of Bond. But nothing could be further from the truth. It turns out that Craig more closely resembles the spy created by Sir Ian Fleming, perhaps more than anyone. NTTD is, like every Bond pic, a reflection of its time, warts and all, and its geopolitical and moral conflicts. Subsequently, Craig has not only managed to get inside Bond’s head and figure out how the character needed to evolve, but also how to transform his character into an exponent of an era which, with this being Craig’s final foray into the saga, will finally see the curtains come down.
“No Time To Die” is without question the best James Bond movie ever made. Does this mean it’s flawless? No, and it isn’t, but it does go further out on a limb, it does extrapolate dramatic statements the furthest, and it will leave us all with a more lasting emotional pay-off. Unlike its predecessors, NTTD marks a before and after in the mythology it represents, establishing a turning point in how the Bond persona is perceived while also marking a radical break with previous plot structures. It achieves this by becoming a synthesis of the saga: although it’s a rereading of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (the other sparkling jewel in the Bond crown, undervalued for many years although endowed with a hypnotic modernity), “No Time To Die” is an expedition through a multifarious landscape of ideas, concepts and characters that have contributed to recalibrating Bond and his role in the collective imagination.
It’s also an emotional journey, for our leading man and for audiences alike, which reflects on the impossibility of light in a world of darkness. Bond is, more than ever, a myth, a legend, a name destined (condemned, also) to be pronounced in echo of great deeds, but he’s not an ordinary man who might aspire to earthly contentment. Mischievous and foreboding, dynamic and profound, it’s exactly what the movie is all about, as then some. It experiments with a variety of registers without perishing in the attempt (NTTD is several films in one, and for once this isn’t a bad thing) and gifts us a handful of unforgettable moments. Among them, the Cuban episode (sensational Ana de Armas, by the way), car chases and pursuits that double down when it comes to being wonderfully analogous, and a shocking ending which has already gone down in Cinema history books. All the while elegantly chaperoned by a Hans Zimmer soundtrack and glowing tribute to the legacy of John Barry, on the arm of a devoted Daniel Craig at his very best in what has to be one of the best performances of his career. Alas, your presence shall be sadly missed sir.