After two years of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 idling in the driveway thanks to the global pandemic, Hollywood finally got its hands on “No Time to Die.”
While stars like Daniel Craig and Naomie Harris lit up the world premiere of the Cary Fukunaga project in London on Tuesday, press and industry in New York and Los Angeles were treated to simultaneous screenings – bringing a long-awaited look at Craig’s final turn as 007.
Here were our biggest takeaways from the film, as spoiler-free as possible, but please do not read further if you’re hoping to avoid plot details and other observations.
Daniel Craig Is Still Man Candy
There has always been sex symbol status attached to the role of Bond, the cinematic legend found first in the novels of Sir Ian Fleming. Earlier screen iterations of the character starring Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan were furry-chested, martini-swilling, bed-hopping men that exuded a buttoned-up kind of sensuality. Craig changed that, or significantly upped the ante, from the moment he stepped out of the ocean in a square-cut bikini in “Casino Royale.”
In “No Time to Die,” Craig gets to flex one last time. He’s seen in his signature swimsuit in a sequence before opening credits, and once more in a revealing shower scene on a tropical island. Usually suited in Tom Ford and sporting some combat injuries, Fukunaga seemed to convince the 53-year-old Craig that going out with a bang means occasionally ditching your tuxedo shirt.
You Need to See “Spectre” Before “No Time to Die”
Clues were there that “No Time to Die” would rely on the narrative of 2015’s “Spectre,” like returning cast members Lea Seydoux and Chirstoph Waltz. All we can say, having not even thought of “Spectre” in six years, is that a rewatch might save you some heavy lifting on figuring out the plot mechanics.
Ana de Armas Is Dazzling – and Short-Lived
We’ve never seen a “Bond girl” quite like Ana de Armas, who turns up in a glorious sequence to help Craig secure custody of a Machiavellian scientist. Up front she’s billed as a new recruit to the spy game (“This is going to go great, I’ve had three weeks of training,” de Armas tells Bond in one of her best line readings). After dressing Bond in a stowed-away tuxedo and dispensing some surveillance gadgets, de Armas vacillates beautifully between fumbling newbie taking down her enemies and sexy savant sliding in at just the right minute to save her partner. With the scientist in his grasp, Bond bids adieu to de Armas’ character and they express hopes they will team up again. We certainly hope the filmmakers behind the franchise invite her back.
Q’s Dinner Date
Out gay actor Ben Whishaw has remained an exciting addition to the Bond universe for three films now as “Q,” the agent’s eye-in-the-sky earpiece sidekick. There have always been lingering questions about Q’s sexual orientation, and “No Time to Die” seems to tell us definitively. Bond and Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) interrupt Whishaw at home as he’s meticulously setting up an intimate dinner for two. The harried hacker says he’s waiting for a male guest to arrive, but defers to help his colleagues.
Lashana Lynch Sticks the Landing
We’ve known for some time that, following James Bond’s effective retirement in “Spectre,” the codename of 007 was up for grabs – and that actor Lashana Lynch’s character Nomi would be receiving the prestigious title. She more than compensates as a hard-edged operative, though perhaps one too deferential to MI6 leader Ralph Fiennes. Some of the biggest laughs in “No Time to Die” come as Craig must accept he’s no longer carrying the code name. Lynch proves that no one, not even Craig, is irreplaceable.
Little Tributes Everywhere
Who wouldn’t forgive director Fukunaga for fawning over Craig in his final performance as Bond? But the helmer behind “True Detective” went much deeper into the iconography of the franchise. Dame Judi Dench and the late Sean Connery get sweet visual tributes hidden in numerous shots throughout the film. Inevitably, Craig orders a martini shaken not stirred. There’s even a warped tunnel shot where Craig, center of frame, fires a gun — directly evoking the iconic gunbarrel animation that has opened every Bond film. It was sweet to see Fukunaga, known as a dense and original auteur, fan out a bit.
We’ll give no specifics about the ending of “No Time to Die,” but reference again Craig’s years-long assertion that this film will be his last contribution to the franchise. While producers have been tightlipped about where James Bond is headed next, a title card after end credits promised one thing: “JAMES BOND WILL RETURN.”
“No Time to Die” opens in North America on Oct. 8.