‘No Time to Die’: Double 007s and Adieu to Daniel Craig ⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎

The opening of “No Time to Die” makes it clear that someone is going to die, and that we’re still in a man’s fantasy world. This film is sexist, beautifully shot, well-paced and filled with Bondian brutality and Bondian babes, as Daniel Craig’s wounded creature of a secret agent has his last adventure. There is some humor although the scenes where I wanted to laugh out loud (but restrained myself as I was amidst some true fans) and director Cary Joji Fukunaga provides some real pensive emotional atmosphere for this Craig Bond wake. “No Time to Die” elevates Craig’s Bond to the level of mythical Greek tragedy with the finale taking place on the distant shore, an island in the disputed area between Russia and Japan. 

It’s no spoiler to say that “James Bond will return” because people are already guessing or suggesting who the next Bond should be. You might want a quick review of where the Craigian Bond has been.

Casino Royale (2006)

This is the third adaptation of Ian Flemings 1953 novel (and 21st James Bond in the Eon Productions series). Bond is just beginning to earn his license to kill and his assignment it to bankrupt terrorist financier Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game at the Casino Royale in the Southeastern European country of Montenegro. A treasury employee assigned to bankroll bond, Vesper Land , and a fellow player, CIA agent Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright ), also helps out with the finances when Bond Vesper refuses to continue funding him.

Important points here: Le Chiffre’s lover Valenka (Ivana Miličević ) poisons Bond’s martini with digitalis. Vesper saves him. Vesper will betray Bond during the transfer of the winnings, Important points here: Le Chiffre’s lover Valenka (Ivana Miličević ) poisons Bond’s martini with digitalis. Vesper saves him. Vesper will betray Bond during the transfer of the winnings, but Vesper chooses to die and Bond learns that Vesper made a deal with Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) to save Bond’s life, just as she did before with Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) to save her previous lover, Yusef Kabira,.

Judi Dench continues as M, the only actor carried over from the Pierce Brosan films. As the head of MI6, she is a maternal figure for Bond and feels that she might have promoted him too soon.

Directed by Martin Campbell and written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis. 

Locations: Prague, Uganda, Madagascar, Greece, Miami, Bahamas, Montenegro, Venice and Lake Como. 

Quantum of Solace (2008)

At the end of “Casino Royale,” Bond had pursued White, knowing that his lover Vesper traded money for Bond’s life and chose to commit suicide, but Vesper also left her phone to help him locate White. Bond had shot White in the leg at an estate in Lake Como (Lombardy, Italy). Now Bond is driving his Aston Martin DBS V12 with White in his trunk and he’s not alone, but in “Quantum of Solace,” he manages to evade his pursuers and delivers White to M. M questions White about Quantum, but M’s bodyguard attacks M; Bond kills the bodyguard, but White escapes. The main focus of the film is Bond rescuing Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko ) who wants to avenge the murder of her family by an exiled Bolivian General (Joaquín Cosío ) as well as punishing Montes’ former lover Dominic Greene Mathieu Amalric who wanted her killed. Both are motivated by Greene’s desire for some desert real estate and he also happens to be one of the leading members of Quantum. Quantum plans to take over Bolivia by controlling their water supply. 

Bond works again with René Mathis (an agent suspected of treachery in the last film, but proven innocent) and with CIA agent Felix Leiter. Mathis dies in Bond’s arms, but Leiter lives. In the end, Bond and his cohorts prevent Quantum’s plans to take over Bolivia. Yet Bond is haunted by the past: Bond meets Vesper Lynd’s lover, Yusef Kabira (Yusef Kabira), whose job in Quantum is seducing women to use for Quantum. Kabira is arrested by MI6 and Bond speaks with M. He drops Vesper’s Algerian love knot necklace in the snow as he leaves M. 

Marc Forster directs and Paul Haggis and Neal Purvis and Robert Wade wrote the script. 

Locations: Lake Garda, Italy; Siena, Italy, London, Bolivia; Bregenz, Austria; Talamone, Tuscany;  Atacama Desert, South America; and Kazan, Russia. 

Happy and Glorious (2012)

James Bond (Daniel Craig) did meet Queen Elizabeth II (as herself) in a short film directed by Danny Boyle for the BBC as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, “Isles of Wonder” (27 July 2012). Bond and the queen supposedly parachute in.

Skyfall (2012)

James Bond is teamed with Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) as they pursue Patrice (Ola Rapace) because he has a hard drive that puts undercover agents at risk. M orders Moneypenny to shoot Patrice while Bond and Patrice are fighting on top of a moving train. Moneypenny hits Bond who falls into the river. Bond is presumed dead and Patrice escapes with the hard drive. 

M’s ability to lead MI6 comes into question. Three months after the opening action, the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament and a former SAS officer Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) pressures M should retire. New attacks on MI6 weaken M’s position. The MI6 building is bombed. Only after learning about the attack does Bond contact M. He had been using his “death” to retire, but that will have its drawbacks. His apartment and his family estate, Skyfall, have been packed up. He is also out of shape in every way possible: He fails the required physical, medical and psychological examinations. Still M reinstates him. 

Gadget guy quartermaster Q (Ben Whishaw) meets Bond at a museum and gives him some gadgets, including a tracking device. Bond goes to Shanghai to find Patrice and kills him, but Patrice gives Bond a clue to find his employer which leads him to a casino in Macau and former sex slave Sévérine. Through Sévérine, he meets Patrice and Sévérine’s employer, Raoul Silva (a very blond in a Bond bad way Javier Bardem). Silva is a former MI6 agent with a vendetta against M. M betrayed Silva to the Chinese government. Cyberterrorism is his current gig. Silva taken into MI6 custody with his laptop. 

M’s position is not helped by when Q attempts to unlock Silva’s laptop. Q inadvertently helps Silva to infiltrate the MI6 computers and escape. Bond takes M to Skyfall where Silva follows. Silva and M both die. Skyfall is destroyed and Mallory becomes the new M. Moneypenny becomes M’s secretary. 

Locations: Istanbul, London, Shanghai, Macau and Scotland. 

Spectre (2015)

The previous (Judi Dench) M left a message that sends Bond to Mexico City for an unauthorized mission on the Day of the Dead. He stops a terrorist bombing and kills the leader of the terrorists, Marco Sciarra, and takes his signet ring which has a stylized octopus. This is a symbol of Spectre, an evil secret organization of which Quantum was only a subsidiary. As he tries to identify the leader of SPECTRE, Bond has a brief reunion with Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) in Austria, who appeared in “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.” White has been fatally poisoned (thallium poisoning) and wants Bond to protect his daughter, a psychiatrist named Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux.) The head of Spectre, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), is the son of the man who briefly adopted the orphaned James Bond, but later killed his father and staged his own death, changing his name from Franz Oberhauser. Blofeld/Oberhauser  felt his father preferred Bond to him.

Q has already linked Blofeld with major events in Bond’s life, including the death of the previous M and Vesper. Blofeld/Oberhauser  felt his father preferred Bond to him. Bond learns that Blofeld/Oberhauser is behind the Nine Eyes global surveillance initiative being pushed by Max Denbigh who is the Director-General of the new Joint Intelligence Service. Denbigh and Mallory (the new M) are locked in a power struggle on the surface, but if Nine Eyes goes online, Spectre will be the new world power. Swann and Bond escape from Blofeld/Oberhauser by setting off a wristwatch to explode and disfigure his face. Eventually, Blofeld/Oberhauser is taken into custody by MI6 and Bond gets his special Astin-Martin from Q and takes off with Swann. 

Directed by Sam Mendes. Script written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth. 

Locations: Mexico City, London, Altaussee (Austria), Sahara, Tangier and Gara Medouar (Morocco).

No Time to Die

A masked man arrives, after trekking on foot through the woods and he uses an automatic weapon to kill the defenseless stinking drunk wife. The daughter desperately tries to enter the safe room and then is forced to deal with the stranger. Her father, she knows, is a doctor. Her mother called him a killer. We’ll find out that he’s both once we discover how this family is linked to James Bond.

Fast forward to the end of the last film, “Spectre,” and we see the happy and lustful couple, James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) driving around in Italy. They end up in Matera, Italy where everyone is celebrating by burning pieces of paper. People write their wishes down on a piece of paper and burn them. Bond visits the grave of Vesper Lund ( 1983-2006). He writes: “Forgive me” and burns the piece of paper. There’s a fresh bouquet on the grave with a small card. On the card is the symbol of Spectre. It’s a trap and the gravesite explodes. Bond runs as he’s pursued by presumed Spectre assassins. Retrieving Swann, and his silver gadget-rigged Astin-Martin Bond seems determined to die a spectacular Spectre death, but this is too early in the movie and “No Time to Die. He eventually rouses himself to launch the gadgets, escape the assassins and, finally, parts ways with Swann because of her perceived betrayal. 

Five years later, an MI6 scientist, Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik ), has betrayed his fellow scientists and is kidnapped by a new group of bioterrorists. Obruchev has been working on Project Heracles, a bioweapon that can be programmed to attacked individuals based on their DNA and thus eliminating collateral damage. 

The CIA gets word of this and Bond’s old friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright who previously appeared in “Casino Royale” in 2006 and in “Quantum of Solace in 2008) with a new agent Logan Ash (Billy Magnussen)  tracks down Bond who has retired to Port Antonio, Jamaica. Bond knows something is up because of the presence of a cigar, but once confronted, he turns down Leiter and Ash. Later, Bond’s car is sabotaged, forcing him to hitch a ride with Nomi (Lashana Lynch) who turns out to be an MI6 agent and the new 007. I guess this isn’t like the NBA where they retire numbers. Project Heracles is M’s (Ralph Fiennes) initiative so Bond elects to join Leiter and Ash.

The threesome end up in Cuba and team up with the young and giddy Paloma (Ana de Armas). Paloma is the eye candy of the film in her plunging neckline backless dress and high heels. She brings Bond his tux and they enter a special Spectre party. Blofeld is able to monitor things through a bionic eye which is in attendance on a pillow. This is also a trap, but not to kill Bond as expected–to kill the assembled leaders of Spectre. While suspicion turns toward Blofeld, Blofeld is then killed. Who’s at the center of this murderous plot? 

The trailer already reveals that the new adversary/terrorist is played by Rami Malek. Malek is Lyutsifer Safin, supposedly Russian. Lyutsifer is the Russian form of the name Lucifer. He is the devil but one who believes himself to be heroic. 

Blofeld is family and this James Bond adventure is, as the opening sequence suggestions all about family in blood and by association. The whole Daniel Craig era of Bond gives us a hero who is deeply wounded, searching for family and failing to find love, not once, but twice. He is a battered, wounded beast feeling his mortality and almost within reach of happiness. What this Bond does is not for country and some sort of pleasing alpha male dominating ego. This Craigian Bond plays out as a Greek tragedy with his own hubris, his happiness  endangered by the jealousy of another until his last moment when he steps into immortality. 

The casting of the women tries to have it both ways. We have the no-nonsense Nomi (Lashana Lynch) who is in charge of her own sexuality, and is willing to use it, but she isn’t dressed up for the male eye. That task is given to Ana de Armas’ Paloma, doing the impossible in a dress meant for little more activity than tottering about in high heels. Naomie Harris’ Eve Moneypenny was a past possibility, but she has her own agency now.

The problem here is the fascination with Japan. Sure, one could credit that as a nod to the director, Oakland-born Japanese hapa Cary Joji Fukunaga, but one of the reasons I listed the locations above is because I want to be conscious of how places are used and not people. The film “Skyfall” used Shanghai and Macau as locations; this film uses somewhere near Japan as a location, but neither film uses an East Asian face as a named character of note. The same can be said for West Asia (Istanbul) and North Africa (Sahara, Tangier, Morocco) or MENA (Middle East and North Africa).  That’s a point of representation because I know there’s a sizable Asian population in the UK (Pakistani and Indian) who could play West Asian and the UK was formerly involved in Hong Kong. Black or African Americans are represented by Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). Black British are represented by Naomie Harris (of Jamaica, Grenadian, Guyanese and British descent) as Eve Moneypenny and British actress of Jamaican descent Lashana Lynch as Nomi. 

The villain Safin is played by an Egyptian American, Rami Malek, but the character is represented as being Russian.  Wikipedia lists four Russian athletes with that surname, Safin. 

Overall, the addition of a young girl within the Bondian world takes the paternalism of misogyny toward the gentler fatherly paternal spirit and does up the emotional stakes. Fukunaga handles these issues deftly enough while giving good pacing, driven smoothly by the soundtrack. 

Fukunaga recently stated that the original Bond from the 1960s was not a good man. According to the Guardian, Fukunaga said, “Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where basically Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman?”  In the 1965 “Thunderball,” a woman who has turned down Bond’s advances, is essentially blackmailed into having sex with him. 

The Guardian continues on to explain how that was essentially part of Bond’s character as written by Ian Fleming because Fleming in a letter about the character Pussy Galore “explains that this ‘laying on of hands’ from the ‘right man’ was all which was required to ‘cure’ the lesbian character of ‘her psycho-pathological malady.'” 

Locations: Matera (Italy), Port Antonio (Jamaica), Cuba, Norway, island between Japan and Russia (like the Kuril Islands).

In the end, this Daniel Craig Bond is dead. As M (Ralph Fiennes) (with Moneypenny, Q and Nomi) toasts Bond and his heroic death, M says, “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

The full quote is: 

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

–Jack London, “Jack London’s Tales of Adventure, ed. Irving Shepard (1956). 

“No Time to Die” made its world premiere on 28 September 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall. It was released on 30 September 2021 in the US and opens in the US on 8 October 2021. See below for more analysis. 

Spoilers, Myths and Science 

First, any rural or semi-rural dweller would see the initial set up as foolhardy at best and my canine companion would ask: Where are the dogs? Yes. Someone who is dealing with death, whose wife is a nearly comatose alcoholic left alone to care for their precocious young teen, would live hundreds of miles away from civilization without a bodyguard, a housekeeper to keep the wife tidy and the teen in line or even a guard dog or two to snap at intruders–two-legged or four-legged. This isn’t a rustic cabin in the woods, but a high tech roomy hideaway that is a death trap, even if it were just wolves knocking at your door in winter. Norway is suitably worried about its wolves that in 2016, it wanted to kill two-thirds of them. In any case, if you’ve had the problem once, you’d think you’d work to resolve it. 

In “Spectre” the concept of a nanotech tracking device in blood, “smart blood,” was introduced. Blood is also a key issue and recurring theme in “No Time to Die.” 

To understand, “No Time to Die” and how it draws on Greek/Roman mythology, you have to know about the myth and legends of Hercules (Roman) or Heracles (Greek). Heracles was the son of Jupiter/Zeus and Alcmene. Jupiter/Zeus effectively raped Alcmene by deception: He disguised himself as her husband, Amphitryon. Throughout his life, Hercules/Heracles was tormented by Juno/Hera, the wife of Jupiter/Zeus, who was angered by her husband’s infidelity and its product. Juno/Hera drove Hercules/Heracles mad on several occasions which resulted in the death of his music tutor Linus, the death of his first wife Megaras and their children, and his best friend Iphitus, brother of his second wife Iole. 

Hercules/Heracles death, however, came as a matter of jealousy.  His wife Deinira was being attacked by the centaur Nessus, who had offered to take her across a river while Hercules/Heracles swam. Hercules/Heracles saves his wife by killing Nessus with poisoned arrows (dipped in the blood of the Hydra). Nessus spitefully tells Deianira that if Deianira gives Hercules/Heracles this blood-soaked tunic, it will make her husband desire her. Years later, when Deianira fears Hercules/Heracles is straying, she sends Hercules/Heracles the shirt via a messenger boy, Lichas. The Hydra blood on the shirt poisons Hercules/Heracles, but because he is half-god, he cannot die. He eventually builds himself a funeral pyre, and his human side is burned away and he becomes immortal, leaving earth and entering Hades.

In “No Time to Die,” Heracles is the name of a DNA-based technology which links nanobots to specific DNA and, once introduced into the blood, cannot be irradicated except through fire and complete destruction of the human body it inhabits.   Bond becomes infected with the nanobots programmed to kill Swann (Madeleine) and her daughter Mathilde. The only way the world will be safe for them is with his death and he chooses to die in the funeral pyre of the nanobot factory that is being bombed per his request as he waits instead of attempting to escape. 

To understand, “No Time to Die” and how it draws on Greek/Roman mythology, you have to know about the myth and legends of Hercules (Roman) or Heracles (Greek). Heracles was the son of Jupiter/Zeus and Alcmene. Jupiter/Zeus effectively raped Alcmene by deception: He disguised himself as her husband, Amphitryon. Throughout his life, Hercules/Heracles was tormented by Juno/Hera, the wife of Jupiter/Zeus, who was angered by her husband’s infidelity and its product. Juno/Hera drove Hercules/Heracles mad on several occasions which resulted in the death of his music tutor Linus, the death of his first wife Megaras and their children, and his best friend Iphitus, brother of his second wife Iole. 

Hercules/Heracles death, however, came as a matter of jealousy.  His wife Deinira was being attacked by the centaur Nessus, who had offered to take her across a river while Hercules/Heracles swam. Hercules/Heracles saves his wife by killing Nessus with poisoned arrows (dipped in the blood of the Hydra). Nessus spitefully tells Deianira that if Deianira gives Hercules/Heracles this blood-soaked tunic, it will make her husband desire her. Years later, when Deianira fears Hercules/Heracles is straying, she sends Hercules/Heracles the shirt via a messenger boy, Lichas. The Hydra blood on the shirt poisons Hercules/Heracles, but because he is half-god, he cannot die. He eventually builds himself a funeral pyre, and his human side is burned away and he becomes immortal, leaving earth and entering Hades.

In “No Time to Die,” Heracles is the name of a DNA-based technology which links nanobots to specific DNA and, once introduced into the blood, cannot be irradicated except through fire and complete destruction of the human body it inhabits.   Bond becomes infected with the nanobots programmed to kill Swann (Madeleine) and her daughter Mathilde. The only way the world will be safe for them is with his death and he chooses to die in the funeral pyre of the nanobot factory that is being bombed per his request as he waits instead of attempting to escape. 

It is likely that this Heracles Project along with the smart blood (introduced in “Spectre”) will only fuel conspiracy theorists who oppose COVID-19 vaccinations on the notion that it is a means for tracking implants. 

There are things I find mystifying, beyond why anyone feels that fighting in a dress with a deep plunging neckline and no back would be a good idea or in anyway a way out of the Bond misogyny. There’s also a mother deciding to wear heels when she’s escaping with her daughter. The Japanese Noh masked used by the villain Lyutsifer Safin is associated with women and that was my initial impression. Yet the Safin’s mother is never mentioned and why there’s a specific interest in Japan. Safin does say, “My father had a garden; he taught me…but my interest remained.”  It was Safin who decided to save and not kill the girl from the initial scenes and that girl was Madelaine Swann. Safin reminds her, “I save a life once. Saving someone’s life connects you…”  The garden we do see is a take on Zen style gardens and Zen was the religion of the Shogunate and its samurai.

With the introduction of Japanese culture, it is curious that the new 007 is named Nomi. Nomi in Japanese means “flea” (蚤) but in Hebrew, it means “my delight.” 


There is another quote in the film that is actually from a famous author, American Jack London. As M (Ralph Fiennes) toasts Bond and his heroic death, he says, “The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

The full quote is: 

I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.

–Jack London, “Jack London’s Tales of Adventure, ed. Irving Shepard (1956). 

“No Time to Die” made its world premiere on 28 September 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall. It was released on 30 September 2021 in the US and opens in the US on 8 October 2021.

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