Review

‘No Time To Die’ Settles Debate: Daniel Craig Is The Best James Bond

Daniel Craig’s final entry into the Bond cannon has an important message for young men

DailyWire.com

[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information about the plot and ending of No Time to Die.]

Originally set to be released in November 2019, No Time to Die, the 25th installment in the legendary 007 series and actor Daniel Craig’s swan song as the British secret agent, was delayed three times due to production issues and the coronavirus pandemic — and it was worth the wait.

First, let’s dispel some of the concerns that conservative film fans have expressed in response to rumors.

Is James Bond now a woman? No, Craig and the series’ producer, Barbara Broccoli, have dismissed this idea. “We don’t have to turn male characters into women,” she said in a 2018 interview.

Is the movie obnoxiously woke? No, Bond is still a philandering (while single), square-jawed, old-school badass — and the full range of human emotions and virtues that Craig brought out in the character more than compensate for whatever “wokeness” the film contains.

The Gist of the Movie

No Time to Die picks up where 2015’s Spectre left off. Bond is in southern Italy enjoying his retirement from U.K. spy agency MI-6 with his girlfriend, Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). In what is one of the most spectacular opening sequences in the franchise’s history, a team of assassins ambush Bond while visiting the tomb of Vesper Lynd, the woman he fell in love with in Craig’s 2006 Bond debut, Casino Royale. After narrowly escaping death, Bond bids farewell to Swann, whom he suspects has betrayed him, and the two go their separate ways.

Five years pass before Bond’s retreat from spycraft comes to a halt. A group of killers, believed to be connected to the global terrorist network Spectre, has stolen a top-secret British biological weapon and kidnapped its top scientist. Bond initially declines to get involved when he learns of the development from his CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), but reconsiders when he is confronted that same evening by MI-6 agent Nomi (Lashana Lynch).

Bond springs out of retirement in Jamaica to track down the mysterious bioweapon and retrieve the missing Russian scientist in Cuba, where he rendezvous with CIA agent Paloma (Ana de Armas). Bond and Paloma pinpoint the deadly pathogen and the virologist at a “bad guys ” gala in Santiago de Cuba. However, rather than targeting Bond, the microbe takes out the Spectre agents in attendance under the direction of his longtime nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), who Bond personally imprisoned six years ago. If this sounds like a standard Bond flick plot, that’s because it is … up to now.

Easter Eggs and Parallels

No Time to Die excels in cinematographer Linus Sandgren and director Cary Fukunaga’s stunning photography; Daniel Craig’s brilliant performance; and the rich tapestry of twists, turns, recurring motifs, and “Easter eggs” that lead to the film’s emotionally charged (and novel) finale that will, perhaps, be more fully appreciated by the franchise’s most loyal followers.

For instance, as Bond is driving with Swann along the winding roads of Matera in his Aston Martin during the film’s opening scenes, Fukunaga foreshadows the film’s ending by weaving the melody to Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World,” the lead track to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in with composer Hans Zimmer’s exquisite musical score. The often-overlooked 1969 movie’s most notable novelty is that Bond falls in love and marries the daughter of the head of a Corsican crime syndicate only to have his wife assassinated during the film’s poignant closing scenes. The newly widowed Bond murmurs the song title as he holds his wife’s lifeless body in what is the final line in both the film and Ian Fleming’s novel by the same name.

[MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS]

In No Time to Die, Bond delivers the same line to Swan, who is the daughter of a Spectre agent. This time, however, it is not Bond’s love interest who perishes at the end of the movie, but rather Bond himself who sacrifices his life to rescue the world from the plague that Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek) plans to unleash on humanity and to save the life of Swan and their daughter, Mathilde. Yes, Craig’s Bond is a dad and dies at the end of the film.

What Conservatives Should Appreciate

While Bond’s fate will surely be controversial among fans (I was uneasy about it at first), the arc and maturation of the character — from a shirtless eligible bachelor seducing the wife of a foe in 2006 to family man in his final moments — during Craig’s 15 years as the world’s most famous spy is where the movie shines brightest. Unlike those of his predecessors, Craig’s Bond evolves as a man. Plainly stated, he has grown up.

Conservatives should admire Bond’s evolution and its depiction of deeply-held conservative views on manhood and humanity. Radicals, like Safin, who attempt to upend the world order and play God are evil and it takes courageous men and women (yes, Nomi and Swann are key players in this mission) to stop them.

Craig’s Bond is not Nietzsche’s Übermensch. He is a virtuous — but clearly flawed — man who has a profound sense of duty to his country, and with both time and the responsibility of being a father, grew into a better person — not perfect, just better.

The James Bond of Daniel Craig — who himself is a husband and father — exemplifies what many of us who began the Bond series with him in 2006 as young, single men and are now married with an eye toward starting our own families, have come to understand: travel and sports cars are fun, but the responsibilities that come with patriotism, love, and family are ennobling. Fulfilling those duties ultimately makes us better, if not good, men.

The Debate is Settled

This film will surely spur debates over where Daniel Craig ranks among the men who have played the British agent. Craig would certainly rival Sean Connery even if we had left Bond as a bachelor in his 50s, just on the merits of his acting and fidelity to Fleming’s portrayal of a rugged spy with steely blue-grey eyes and a “cruel mouth.” And sure, No Time to Die would have made us all happier if, after his most daring adventure, we bid farewell to 007 at a chic Italian bistro with his new family as we did to Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises.

But that’s not how things have worked out for Craig’s Bond, whose life journey has been characterized by loss and grief. The natural conclusion to Craig’s Bond is his final sacrifice, and what his evolution over five films teaches us (especially men) about life, and the full range of human emotions the actor brought out in the iconic character, should settle the debate: Daniel Craig is the best James Bond. Period. Full stop.

To paraphrase Carly Simon: nobody has done it better.

Giancarlo Sopo is a media strategist with over a decade of experience in corporate communications and international and U.S. political campaigns.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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