Review Roundup: Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time to Die

Critics respond to Daniel Craig’s final adventure as 007.
No Time to Die - Cary Joji Fukunaga
Daniel Craig returns as James Bond for one last mission

It could be argued that if any movie exemplified Hollywood’s pandemic woes, it would be No Time to Die. The 25th James Bond movie was originally scheduled for release in April 2020 — just in time for the pandemic to hit the States in earnest. No Time to Die’s release was then pushed back to November 12, 2020, and then April 2, 2021, and finally, to October 8, 2021. (And even before the pandemic, the film was rescheduled several times following the departure of original director Danny Boyle.)

But No Time to Die is finally here, and it features Daniel Craig’s final turn as 007. Let’s be honest for a moment: the Craig films have been uneven. 2006’s Casino Royale was an absolute success, updating Bond for a new era while still hewing to much of what’s made these films so successful over the years. Craig’s subsequent Bond films, however, were a bit patchier, with 2015’s Spectre adding some unnecessary convolutions to the spy’s backstory.

So how does Craig comport himself in his final Bond movie? Critics are divided. While most critics suggest that No Time to Die serves as a fitting send-off for Craig that also adds some surprising layers of emotion to the world’s greatest spy, others find it a portentous rehash (not to mention way too long).

Peter Bradshaw, “Daniel Craig dispatches James Bond with panache, rage — and cuddles”

It is of course a festival of absurdity and complication, a headspinning world of giant plot mechanisms moving like a Ptolemaic universe of menace. Perhaps nothing in it measures up to the drama of Bond’s rage-filled hurt feelings at the very beginning. But it is very enjoyable and gleefully spectacular — Craig and Seydoux and Malek sell it very hard and you can see the pleasure everyone takes in this gigantic piece of ridiculously watchable entertainment which feels like half its actual running time.

Robert Daniels, “Daniel Craig’s final bow as James Bond is worth toasting”

For those who’ve taken Craig’s Bond as their concerns: Their wait is worth it. His final scene is the most heartbreaking sequence in the franchise’s history. That’s not a hard bar to clear in a franchise filled with sexually punned names, fast cars, and overwrought technology, but it means a lot with Craig’s Bond, the most emotionally attuned of these iterations. No Time to Die is so, so long. But I wish it went a little longer if only to see how else Craig could’ve pushed this dinosaur. No Time to Die is his perfect ending, a moment worth toasting as a wistful rejection of a character that’ll never be the same without him.

A.A. Dowd, “A sentimental, unsatisfying end to the Daniel Craig era of James Bond”

“Goodbye” isn’t usually in the spy’s vocabulary — not with a sequel always on the horizon, a return always promised in the credits. Even on the cusp of recasting, it’s rare to get any finality from a Bond movie; producers like to leave the door open, in hopes that they’ll lure their star back for one more round of martinis. No Time To Die is different. It’s been conceived as a proper send-off to Daniel Craig, taking his fifth and final spin in the tuxedo, and as an attempt to wrap up this serialized stretch of a series that’s been running since the early ’60s. Unfortunately, the film is so concerned with valediction that it ends up treating the actual pleasures of Bond — the stuff that’s kept audiences coming back for six decades — like an afterthought.

Bilge Ebiri, “Fun, but only when it dares to be”

To get to the next action sequence, we often have to sit through another interminable speech or exchange with the bad guy about how we’re both really the same, you and me. Craig has neither the ability nor the willingness to dismiss such blather with a raised eyebrow, as, say, Roger Moore could. Craig wants to commit, to emote, to really tackle the substance of the material; he is, after all, a real actor. Except that the material has no substance: It’s still the same tired nonsense, just longer, and all the added elements to give the story and the characters emotional heft mostly fail as a result.

Owen Gleiberman, “Daniel Craig’s Bond gets the send-off he deserves”

No Time to Die, at 2 hours and 43 minutes, is the longest Bond film ever, yet it’s brisk and heady and sharp. The director, Cary Joji Fukunaga (HBO’s True Detective), keeps the elements in balance like an ace juggler. He gets the details right — the split-second leaping-off-the-balcony action scenes, the menace of an assassin with a vagrant mechanical eyeball, the persnickety droll fun of Ben Whishaw’s performance as Q.

Stefan Kyriazis, “Daniel Craig goes out with a whimper not a bang”

[Daniel Craig] has spoken a lot recently about his passionate drive to get to the metaphorical and beating heart of the iconic character. Across almost three hours this film certainly tries to do that, but along with a weak script and underwhelming directing from Cary Fukunaga, it simply sacrifices too much of the viscerally, thrillingly unapologetic anti-hero that has towered across six decades of cinema.

Richard Lawson, “Much of No Time to Die’s thematic argument seems like a rehash”

Yes, Bond has experienced loss in films from long before Craig’s reign. But No Time to Die bends the world of the character into something unrecognizably sodden. It’s too much, and also rather unearned, all this teary emotion trying to conjure up big feelings when a rip-roaring spectacular — looking exactly as colorful and glossy as Fukunaga has made it — was really all that was needed.

Germain Lussier, “The most emotional James Bond film ever”

No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond movie, almost feels like 25 movies in one. So much happens in its complex story — filled with so many sprawling, varied set pieces — that by the time you get to the end, the events of the beginning feel like they happened 18 months ago. Which, if you remember, they were supposed to. Don’t forget, the only reason audiences had to wait six years between James Bond movies was the covid-19 pandemic. Now, though, that extended wait almost works in the movie’s favor. Its 163-minute run time and labyrinthian plot just give us more of what we’ve been waiting for. We’ve waited a long time for No Time and, thankfully, it delivers.

David Rooney, “Even if the two-and-three-quarter hour running time is occasionally a slog, it ultimately delivers”

Regardless of the plotting deficiencies and occasional pacing lags, there’s plenty here for diehard Bond fans to savor, with a frisson of excitement every time Hans Zimmer’s stirring score sneaks in a few bars of Monty Norman’s classic original Bond theme. It may not rank up there with Skyfall, but it’s a moving valedictory salute to the actor who has left arguably the most indelible mark on the character since Connery.

A.O. Scott, “A curious mixture of heaviness and insouciance”

As someone who grew up in the Roger Moore era, when defiance of every kind of gravity was the hallmark of the series, I have trouble adjusting my eyes to the darkness and the possibility of tears. I don’t entirely trust the emotions that the director (Cary Joji Fukunaga) and the screenwriting committee (Fukunaga, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Phoebe Waller-Bridge) put into play, or the weighty themes they reach for.

Brian Tallerico, “It feels like a film with too little at stake”

When Casino Royale burst on the scene in 2006, it really changed the action landscape. The Bond mythology had grown stale — it was your father or even your grandfather’s franchise — and Daniel Craig gave it adrenaline. For something that once felt like it so deftly balanced the old of a timeless character with a new, richer style, perhaps the biggest knock against No Time to Die is that there’s nothing here that’s hasn’t been done better in one of the other Craig movies.

Stephanie Zacharek, “Perfectly tailored to the actor who is… the best Bond of all”

Everyone has a favorite Bond. I’m sure years-long friendships have ended over drunken fights about who’s the best. Most people put their money on Connery, and he was perhaps the most coolly seductive, an elegant freeze-pop who wouldn’t melt under your touch. But as Craig has played him, Bond is a man whose blood runs close to the surface. Principled but also a bit thuggish, witty yet vaguely ornery, taciturn yet capable of being wounded, he became — by stealth, across five pictures — the best version of the character, the one we didn’t know we wanted. The rest were just Bonds.

No Time to Die arrives in theaters on October 8. Watch the trailer below.