Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond comes to a close in spectacular fashion in the 25th 007 film, No Time to Die, which hits our screens a year and half after its initial promised release.

With three speed bump delays along the way and the weight of expectations on its shoulders, the film delivers a bang-for-buck movie-going experience that ought to have fevered fan’s squealing with delight.

We find James Bond in the tropical oasis of Jamaica, retired from the secret service and living far off the grid. When his old CIA pal Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) tracks him down, Bond is dragged back into action to find a kidnapped scientist and prevent a global catastrophe at the hands of a maniacal villain.

If this brief synopsis sounds familiar, it should, because No Time To Die is textbook James Bond and perhaps the most “classic” of the Daniel Craig entries. In fact many of the tropes that had been missing from the last few instalments have been reinstated, giving this film not only a sense of nostalgia but also reinvigoration, resulting in renewed fun for the audience.

Craig reprises his role with the confidence of a man taking his final bow, and his debt to the audience is paid in full. This particular outing is by far his boldest, and he embraces every moment on screen with absolute assurance.

Also serving as a producer on the film, he commits to the character and revisits some of the traits from yesteryear. He remains a ladies man, prone to seduction, while the women he tangles with play a smarter game. The misogyny of old is rightfully abandoned, however his iconic cheeky flirtations remain, and credit must be given to the four writers who have negotiated their way through today’s more politically correct landscape.

The supporting cast is wonderful, with Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049) delivering a knockout performance as Paloma, a CIA agent who chews up her screen time alongside Craig with relish and gives him a long overdue run for his money. Lea Seydoux offers a sincere turn as Bond’s love interest, Madeleine Swann – who first appeared in Spectre (2015) – and brings gravitas to his character arc. Other return players include Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Wishaw as Q and Naomi Harris as Miss Moneypenny.

Lashana Lynch plays Nomi, a MI6 agent who has assumed Bond’s 007 number and intends to retain it. She is a welcome counter-balance to the story and helps to bring the Bond mythology in line with contemporary expectations. She’s a strong and formidable character and should have been utilised a lot more than she was, entering the story boldly but finding herself relegated to the sideline all too quickly. This may be a point of contention for many in light of the prospect of introducing a “female Bond”, but she proves to be a brilliant character with a lot of potential.

The latest villain to enter the 007 arena is Lyutsifer Safin (Rami Malek), a character whose role and purpose in the film gives credence to the speculation surrounding the reasons behind the film’s staggered release. Although the global pandemic has been an obvious delay, it could be argued that the film’s villainous plot bore such similarities to Covid-19 that a measure of rewrites and narrative adjustments were required.

This may be evident in traces of a seemingly abandoned Asian theme, with Safin’s hideout and personal attributes bearing a distinct Asian influence. Furthermore, his remote island missile silo lair is taken straight out of the first James Bond film, Dr. No (1962), with that titular villain being of Asian descent and making a very similar bid for world domination. While neither confirmed nor denied, it’s a theory that will definitely enhance the film’s appeal and fuel some robust discussion afterwards.

In cinemas: November 11
Starring: Michael Craig, Rami Malek, Ana de Armas
Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga

James Bond at JB Hi-Fi