What do the critics say about new Bond? Is it time for franchise to die?

(He’s back. Bond, James Bond)

It’s been six years since the previous James Bond film, Spectre, but the 25th film in the James Bond franchise, No Time To Die, is finally here! The release of the film was delayed 19 months due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. No Time to Die release date is October 8, 2021, and is currently exclusively in theaters (with no current VOD).

Daniel Craig returns as everyone’s favorite MI6 agent, 007, for the fifth and final time in this spy action from director Cary Joji Fukunaga. Also returning to their roles in the franchise are Léa Seydoux as Bond’s love interest, Madeleine Swan, Ben Whishaw as Bond’s Quartermaster, Q, Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny, Jeffrey Wright as Bond’s friend Felix, and Christoph Waltz as Bond’s enemy and foster brother, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

As for the newcomers, Academy Award winner, Rami Malek stars as the new villain, Lyutsifer Safin, Lashana Lynch appears as a new “00” agent, while Ana de Armas plays a new CIA agent named Paloma.

According to current reviews, among Craig’s Bond canon, No Time to Die is third-best-reviewed at 84% certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes after Casino Royale‘s 94%, and Skyfall‘s 92%. Quantum of Solace and Spectre are the least favored by critics at 64% and 63%, respectively.

Here’s what top critics are saying:

Justin Chang from NPR wrote, “It’s a poignant pleasure to see Daniel Craig as Bond on the big screen one last time, even if the movie around him is seldom as good as he is.

Daniel Craig is the bookend Bond, giving 007’s story a beginning — and an end

But then that’s always been the case with the Craig Bond movies, with the sole exception of Casino Royale, the first and still the best of the five. Craig put his imprint on the character from the get-go: Like any good 007, he showed he could rock a tuxedo and toss off double-entendres with ease.”

Michael Phillips from Chicago Tribune says, “I appreciate director Fukunaga’s confident, swank handling of the action, and his juggling of tones. Transitional shots such as the enemy agents descending a London skyscraper exterior are pure visual class. Bond coming out of retirement in No Time to Die coincides somewhat awkwardly with Craig stuck on the runway of his own Bond retirement party for nearly two years longer than expected.

But as bittersweet farewells go, this one’s quite good. Also, in a pandemic when many of us are still working at home, isn’t it nice to imagine bumping into Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny or Ralph Fiennes’s M, that old basset hound, in the hallways on the way to lunch?”

K. Austin Collins from Rolling Stone asserts, “We all know by now that this is the end of Craig, and wisely, No Time to Die doesn’t put up any false pretenses. As a movie, Bond-related or otherwise, it’s just fine: sometimes intriguing, sometimes not, sometimes boring, sometimes not. It’s a bit more successful if we think of it instead as a tribute to the Craig era, and to the star himself, whose 21st-century Bond will endure as a complicated man along for the ride in the franchise’s otherwise formulaic schemes.

It’s like the movie has this in mind, reviving old characters and tropes, giving Bond devotees a bit of what makes the franchise a familiar comfort, while adding a dash of melancholy and a grimness — down to its visual palette and the journeyman staging of much of its showpiece scenes — that even gives the action a twinge of heaviness.”

Owen Gleiberman from Variety says, “No Time to Die is a terrific movie: an up-to-the-minute, down-to-the-wire James Bond thriller with a satisfying neoclassical edge. It’s an unabashedly conventional Bond film that’s been made with high finesse and just the right touch of soul, as well as enough sleek surprise to keep you on edge.”

Stephanie Zacharek from TIME Magazine agrees, “No Time to Die, its flaws notwithstanding, is perfectly tailored to the actor who is, to me, the best Bond of all. With his fifth movie as 007, Craig is so extraordinary he leaves only scorched earth behind. There will be other Bonds for those who want them. For everyone else, there’s Craig.”

Philip De Semlyen from Time Out believes, “By whatever metrics you measure a Bond movie – tight plotting, gnarly villains, emotional sincerity – Craig’s final outing is a rip-roaring success. #CraigNotBond feels like a very long time ago now, in every sense.”

Jessica Kiang from Los Angeles Times says, “Craig reveals himself as perhaps the most generous actor to have inhabited the role. And not only toward the rest of the cast, but toward the very idea of Bond itself. Craig sets Bond free from the prison of forgetfulness that has previously trapped him like a caveman in ice, though the price is steep, and it remains to be seen if future installments can continue to pay it.”

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Of course, the movie was NOT worth the wait for some critics, here’s what the naysayers are saying:

Richard Lawson from Vanity Fair shares, “Leave this somber serialization to other franchises and let 007 get back to business—which should, ideally, be a pleasure.”

A.O. Scott from New York Times agrees, “If No Time to Die were 90 minutes long, it might be worth yours.”

Nick Schager from The Daily Beast concurs, “The 25th James Bond film—and last featuring star Daniel Craig as the superspy—is surprisingly long and unexciting, save for an electrifying turn from Ana de Armas.”

Sam Adams from Slate doesn’t mince words and says, “By the end, the movie itself feels worn out, uncertain what it is we’re all doing here.”

After the long wait between 2015’s Spectre, Bond fans have been eagerly awaiting this final performance of Bond by Craig and at 89%, the Rotten Tomatoes audience score is slightly above the critics’ score, leading us to believe that true Bond fans are enjoying the film a little bit more than critics.

It looks like Sony will own another weekend in October with Venom: Let there be Carnage having the second-biggest opening of a pandemic October with $90 million last weekend.

Of course, only a true Bond fan will brave the pandemic in order to see this film exclusively in theaters, beginning October 8. 


Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.