Daniel Craig Takes a Bow as Bond in ‘A Time to Die’ – Opinion

“Essential Viewing” considers the fifth and last James Bond outing for Daniel Craig

 

(Spoiler-free Review)

Unlike some people, I loved “Spectre” (2017). There were more than a few movie goers who described Daniel Craig’s performance in the last film featuring 007 as cold and depressing, but as the first Bond film I’d seen in the theaters in many years, I found it achingly beautiful and profound.

Since hearing that “A Time To Die” would be the fifth and final bow for actor Daniel Craig, I knew I wanted to see it on the big screen, too. It’s hard to fathom that it’s been that long since “Spectre” came out. And even that six-year span includes a pandemic-forced delay (the first of many) to the release date of Warner Brothers’ new entry in the 25-film series — it was originally set to hit theaters last November.

It’s also crazy to realize that Craig has now spent more than 15 years in the role of the master spy. Before anyone even watched a frame of his first film, Casino Royale (2006), Bond fanboy purists were in an uproar about the actor’s blonde hair and blue eyes. But it’s a mistake to fixate on the mold created by years of the “Who’s the better James Bond: Sean Connery or Roger Moore?” argument.

Here’s a better example. A single actor has ever played James Bond. It was 1969. This version of Bond was darker and more dramatic than the usual. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” starred George Lazenby, as Bond going up against evil mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld. I’m going to bet that most people who watch the movies have never heard Lazenby’s name, and that’s part of the problem. I’ll admit I’m one of those people. Growing up, my family watched many Bond movies (on cable and in the theaters), and I don’t remember ever seeing this one. It was actually the first time I saw it. This week

Fittingly, Blofeld is included in “A Time to Die”s plot, as the character (played by Christoph Waltz) wasn’t killed off during his reappearance in “Spectre.” It isn’t just fan service, either. He’s integral to the path that Craig’s Bond takes at the end of this movie. And as much as I loved Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he’s just adequate as the villain here.

The story had moments where Bond spoke out for conservative values that were surprising to me. It is an excellent example.

There’s also an obvious point of view expressed in the film that fathers should take an active role in family life. This is not what you would expect from the swinging bachelor.

Warner Bros, at least for the short term, has announced that it’s releasing its pictures day and date (e.g. The film will be available online the day after its theatrical release. And you’re welcome to do the former, if that’s your thing. But I feel like you’ll be missing out on a few important parts of the experience as the filmmakers intended.

A specific sound effect plays an important role in two scenes of the movie. It would be a spoiler to be more specific, but I’m fairly sure it can’t be recreated at home.

Streaming viewers might also not hear Hans Zimmer’s gorgeous music in the way it is meant to be heard.

In an interview promoting “No Time to Die” with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz, Craig explained when he knew he could pick up the mantle of the James Bond role that had been stamped so heavily by others; As the interviewer put it, Craig wanted to do it “his way: a darker and more sober 007 than the heavyweights who came before him.”

Warning: contains coarse language

“When I got to a line in the script that said — you know, when he ordered a vodka martini, and the guy said, “Shaken, not stirred?”

And it said in the script, ‘Do I look like I give a f***?’ I went, ‘I’m in.’”

Daniel Craig is now done with James Bond.

Essential viewing verdict: “A Time to Die” left me with the same impression “Spectre” did as the closing credits rolled — dark and profound and just right. This is a better movie.

As the trailer for “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” proclaimed, “If you think you know your Bond, think again. This one’s different.” I can’t think of any better way to end this review than that. The same applies to Daniel Craig. Enjoy!

 

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