No Time to Die: Daniel Craig’s Swan Song as James Bond

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All 6 James Bond actors from 1963 to 2021, from left: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig Source: Getty

By Eileen Wang and Pen Fang

With the release of No Time to Die, Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond is officially over. After 15 years and 5 films, he finally parts ways with the character. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, No Time to Die draws Bond back from retirement after a new weapon threatens to unravel everything. 

After nearly a year of delay, the film was finally released, becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of 2021 with 774 million USD at the box office. It currently holds a critics’ score of 84% and an audience score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Other cast members include Ralph Fiennes, who reprises his role as M, and Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, who return as Moneypenny and Q, respectively. Léa Seydoux also returns as Madeleine Swann, Bond’s love interest in both Spectre and No Time to Die.  New faces are added as well: Lashana Lynch stars as Nomi, the agent who gains the 007 title after Bond’s retirement, and Ana de Armas plays Paloma, another agent. Last but not least, Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role winner, Rami Malek, portrays Lyutsifer Safin, Bond’s new adversary. 

No Time to Die is a fitting ending for Craig’s saga as James Bond. Overall, the film does a good job of continuing where the story left off, a trademark of his portrayal of the character. No Time to Die certainly delivers on its visuals. The cinematography is filled with gorgeous shots, featuring callbacks to previous films. Linus Sandgren, who also worked on La La Land, uses colors and lighting to create life in each setting. The soundtrack adds an element to the film, with Hans Zimmer as the composer. Additionally, Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell’s “No Time to Die” was both haunting and unsettling, perfectly capturing the mood and overall plot of the film. 

Craig’s performance as Bond captures the emotional essence of the character. It allows us to see the raw and emotionally-driven character, presenting a stripped-back and human version of him, rather than establishing him as just a larger-than-life agent. He uses his emotions like he would anything else: he weaponizes them, using them to drive what he does. Furthermore, No Time to Die has an air of vulnerability to the storyline. Bond, like all others, must decide what to do with the rest of his time. 

Craig debuted as James Bond in 2006 with Casino Royale. The film immediately establishes a different sort of Bond: we see an origin story, his transformation into the agent while also establishing the human side of the character. Continuing where Casino Royale left off was Quantum of Solace. It is a darker, edgier entry in the saga, focusing on the raw emotion and grief left behind by its predecessor.  Skyfall takes a different approach, proposing questions about Bond and MI6’s declining relevance in the modern world. Spectre focuses on Bond and MI6’s rebuilding phase after the events of Skyfall, as they attempt to uncover the dark truth of the sinister organization, Spectre. 

No Time to Die properly concludes this saga, bidding Craig farewell and tying the series closed. There are references from other movies — as per usual for a Bond film — but there are also direct links in the plot, a defining characteristic of this era of Bond. In fact, No Time to Die is a distinctly Daniel Craig Bond film, with its vulnerable and human portrayal of the character. 

Craig’s run as Bond has been far from a walk in the park, as many doubted him to be the right fit for Bond at first, and additionally, injuries constantly plagued him, resulting in prolonged intervals between films. However, such struggles did not, by any means, prevent him from creating such a lasting, significant impact on the Bond saga. With his new take on Bond’s portrayal as a tragic hero with flaws and vulnerabilities, this proved to be a successful move and earned him much credibility in the eyes of viewers and critics. Through his tremendous contributions to the Bond series, Craig’s legacy will continue to thrive, even as the search for the next Bond takes place. As Craig advised to whoever the next Bond may be, “Don’t be s***.”

All 6 James Bond actors from 1963 to 2021, from left: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig

Source: Getty

From Sean Connery’s portrayal of the 007 agent in the very first Bond movie, Dr. No, in 1963 to Daniel Craig’s portrayal of this British secret agent in No Time to Die in 2021, there have been a total of twenty-five films produced in this beloved saga over the course of fifty-eight years. The James Bond series shows no signs of stopping soon, as the search for the next actor to take on this perhaps life-changing role is well underway. 

Through these years, many different generations have grown up watching James Bond in action, whether it be Sean Connery in From Russia With Love, Pierce Brosnan in Tomorrow Never Dies, or Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. However, although each generation may have had their own defining James Bond, there’s one thing that all can agree on- The legacy of James Bond has always and will continue to live on through the hearts and minds of viewers, young and old alike.