No Time to Die is the final outing for actor Danial Craig’s run as 007. Looking back on Daniel Craig’s tenure, it’s hard to imagine a time in which he did not don the tuxedo. Though he has not appeared in the most films (that distinction goes to the late Roger Moore, who appeared in seven), he is nevertheless the actor who has held the role the longest, with fifteen years having passed since his debut in 2006 and his fifth (and final) film in 2021. So thorough has been his reinvention of the character that Craig’s time as Bond is and will continue to be looked upon as an asterisk in the history of the sixty-year-old film series, a unique thing emerging from a cultural milieu that has witnessed twin towers fall, whistles blow, and women become ascendant.
Director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time to Die (2021) marks the definitive end of Craig’s time as Bond—and what an ending it is. The circle closes, every dangling plot thread is tied off. By the time a weary, heart-broken Bond stands bloodied and dying in the cold light of day, staring death full in the face and embracing it, all of the villains who sought to harm him, his friends, his country, and the world are gone. “There’s no one left to hurt us anymore,” says Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux)—and she’s right. In the end, Bond emerges victorious but at a great cost.
The key to understanding the way No Time to Die chooses to tell its story lies in these mythological underpinnings. In the Greek myth, Heracles’s story ends when he is tricked into wearing the poisonous tunic of Nessus, and he chooses to incinerate himself rather than live alone and only in pain.
No Time to Die, at long last, recaptures to some degree this unique vision of writer Ian Fleming. Bond’s hedonism in the novels is frequently treated as his defense against this uniquely Christian notion of “acedia,” which medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas defined as trisitia de bono spirituali, “sadness in the face of spiritual good.” Ian Fleming’s work can be described as Christ-haunted. Bond, like Fleming, was a man haunted by goodness. In his final moments in No Time to Die, Bond finally surrenders himself to it.
This Postmodern Realities episode is a conversation with Journal author Cole Burgett about his online-exclusive article, “All the Time in the World: No Time to Die and the End of an Era” **Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for the 2021 James Bond film No Time to Die.**
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