Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 was originally scheduled for release in November 2019, but was rescheduled for April 2020 after the departure of director Danny Boyle. The coronavirus pandemic then moved the release date a further two times.
But finally, finally, the highly anticipated film has arrived following a star-studded premiere in London, as the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined the film’s cast and crew on the red carpet.
Also in attendance were the world’s press. So what did the critics make of it*?
(*This reviews round-up is spoiler free).
The Guardian (5 stars)
Craig’s final film as the diva of British intelligence is an epic barnstormer, delivering pathos, action, drama, camp comedy (Bond will call M “darling” in moments of tetchiness), heartbreak, macabre horror, and outrageously silly old-fashioned action in a movie which calls to mind the world of Dr No on his island…
No Time To Die is startling, exotically self-aware, funny and confident, and perhaps most of all it is big: big action, big laughs, big stunts and however digitally it may have been contrived, and however wildly far-fetched, No Time To Die looks like it is taking place in the real world, a huge wide open space that we’re all longing for.
The Telegraph (5 stars)
There are numerous ritualistic retracings of ideas and images from Bond adventures past. But there are key differences. For one thing, it’s unfashionably colourful. Thank La La Land cinematographer Linus Sandgren for some gorgeous dawns and dusks, plus the rich, sun-blush colours of an early action sequence...
For another, it’s often very funny indeed. The mood is often closer to the perkier passages of the Connery films, and the humour feels contemporary and British: the Phoebe Waller-Bridge script polish evidently yielded the desired result… We’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond, for quite some time – and what a joy and relief it is to have you back.
The Times (5 stars)
It’s better than good. It’s magnificent. After a stunning opening entry (Casino Royale) and three middling instalments of water-treading inanity, a Daniel Craig Bond has finally delivered on its initial promise. This one is all heart, a moving portrait of an antiquated hero facing his own obsolescence…
Craig has occasionally been a divisive figure during this five movie stint, from his initial casting (too blond, too small) to his dour performance-style to his off-screen rants about the iniquities of the gig. Yet all sins are forgiven here. He’s a towering charismatic presence from opening frame to closing shot, and he bows out in terrific, soulful, style. His, perhaps, is an impossible act to follow.
Empire (4 stars)
This film does things that no Bond film has ever done, and despite relying heavily on tropes that feel not only familiar but comforting, it is the unfamiliar things it does that make this such an exciting entry... A stunning, surprising finale gives Craig the send-off he deserves. When a formula is this hard-and-fast, even the slightest tweaks feel exciting. Raise a martini — it was worth the wait.
Daily Mail (4 stars)
No Time To Die is a triumph: an explosive, tense, daring, and most of all surprising adventure, toying with our preconceptions about the world’s greatest secret agent and exploring his personal life more intimately than ever before. It is superbly spearheaded by Daniel Craig’s Bond, even if he is as scarred emotionally as his supremely creepy adversary Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) is physically.
If this picture doesn’t succeed in its mission, to breathe life back into the Covid-crippled cinema industry, it’s hard to imagine what would.
No Time to Die is a terrific movie: an up-to-the-minute, down-to-the-wire James Bond thriller with a satisfying neo-classical 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.
It delivers all the spectacle you’d expect from a 007 movie, throws a few surprises in along the way and proves to be an entertaining, affecting and bold finale for Daniel Craig. It might have taken its time getting him, but No Time to Die confirms that whoever the next James Bond is, they’ve got some big shoes to fill.
Press Association (8/10)
No Time To Die is the most emotionally satisfying chapter under Craig’s guardianship and the subtle nods to the past 20 years sever some ties to the past and provide exciting opportunities for reinvention in the future. Bond will return and he or she will be a better person for it.
NME (4 stars)
The gobsmacking ending, in fact, may be the biggest in Bond history. Yet when the credits finally roll on Daniel Craig’s last hurrah… if we didn’t know better, we’d say it even looked like he enjoyed himself.
The Independent (3 stars)
Cary Joji Fukunaga has made a smashing piece of action cinema with No Time to Die – it’s just a shame it had to be a Bond film. For all the delays, the rumours, the months spent building up Daniel Craig’s final farewell in the role, what’s most disappointing about the film is how strangely anti-climatic the whole thing feels. That is, minus a third act curtsy that at least allows Craig to leave the franchise with not only a good dollop of dignity, but a reminder to us all that he gave Bond a soul.
Spectacularly well shot, wonderfully dark villains (Rami Malek’s performance is faultless) and perhaps more depth than before, perhaps Bond really can to save the day - for cinema in the short term at least.
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 savour, 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.
No Time To Die arrives in cinemas nationwide on Thursday 30 September.