Daniel Craig's last James Bond movie prefers it serious, not silly

Daniel Craig stars in “No Time to Die.” It's Craig's fifth and final turn as James Bond.

We all have our own relationship with James Bond. Mine goes back to being high school age, giggling over popcorn as Roger Moore said wisecracky things and drank martinis and drove too fast and … well, I was never quite sure what exactly Bond was doing over there in the British Secret Service, whatever that was, but it all felt terribly grown-up and fun. And though now I’m older and presumably a tad wiser, my Bond-meter seems to have been permanently set long ago. Bond movies are supposed to be fun, and while I’ve found a lot to admire in the Daniel Craig era (my favorite: “Skyfall,” for the Roger Deakins cinematography and for the great Judi Dench), I do miss the silliness.

I share this background because how you respond to “No Time to Die,” Craig’s fifth and final Bond outing (he’s long said this would be his last), might have a lot to do with how your personal Bond-meter is set. There’s a lot of validity to the idea of a grittier Bond, one who’s faced the darkness inherent in getting shot at all the time — one who’s, my goodness, growing and developing as a person — and the Craig movies embraced that. But all that darkness isn’t much fun, particularly when the world has quite enough darkness already. “No Time to Die” has moments of pleasure, lots of them, but ultimately it feels heavy in a way a Bond movie shouldn’t; its pacing is off and it can’t quite sell the earnestness and even sentimentality of much of its storyline.

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