Diamonds might be forever, but the license to kill has always come with an expiration date. Daniel Craig can't claim the longest hold on James Bond — that honor is shared by Sean Connery and Roger Moore, with seven installments each — though he has outlasted Pierce Brosnan (four), Timothy Dalton (two), and George Lazenby (an inglorious one and done). Much has been made of the fact that No Time to Die, out this Friday after nearly two years of pandemic delays, will be Craig's fifth and final turn in the eternal tuxedo before the torch is passed to some future unknown. And Die has all the classic hallmarks of the franchise: exotic locales, astonishing set pieces, a maniacal villain with a dastardly and improbably convoluted plan that only one super-agent in the world can undo.
What also lingers in the air, amidst all the shattered martini glasses and gun smoke, is something less familiar: a very un-Bondian whiff of mortality. Imagine a James shaken, not stirred, by the idea of his own impermanence — and even, perish the thought, irrelevance. Could it be that 007's number is finally up? In fact, it's already been reassigned after his voluntary retirement — to a young Black woman no less, played with brisk, brash style by Lashana Lynch — but there wouldn't be much of a movie if something didn't pull James out of his leisurely post-MI6 life of al fresco showers and sport fishing in some remote Jamaican paradise and back to the business of her Majesty's secret service.
That cause, after several bravura opening scenes featuring his lady love du jour Dr. Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) and a swarm of disposable henchmen, has something to do with the return of Spectre villain Ernst Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), and a stolen biological weapon whose potential effect on the human race would be, to say the least, cataclysmic. It comes at the request of James' old friend, CIA field officer Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), but leads back soon enough to the old crew in London: Ralph Fiennes' fussy M, Naomie Harris's ever-capable Moneypenny, and Ben Whishaw's Q, the winsome tech guy with the soul of a poet and the brain of an MIT source code.