starring Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Christoph Waltz
screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Cary Joji Fukunaga and Phoebe Waller-Bridge
directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. Cary Fukunaga's No Time to Die, the twenty-fifth canonical James Bond film, is the best one since Peter Hunt's On Her Majesty's Secret Service and for many of the same reasons. One could hazard that the similarities, a vulnerable Bond chief among them, comprise the guiding principle behind this picture, with its multiple call-outs to Fleming's books--On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in particular, along with its downbeat, mortal sequel You Only Live Twice, the last Bond Fleming completed himself. In the latter, 007's boss, M, uses the same Jack London quote to eulogize the presumed-dead superspy ("The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time") that his screen counterpart (Ralph Fiennes) uses to eulogize Bond in No Time to Die. It ends with Bond, initially dumbstruck by grief over the death of his wife in the previous novel (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), now stricken by amnesia and about to abandon his impregnated wife--the child a development Fleming never got to bring to term, but who finds her fruition in Fukunaga's film. At a late point in No Time to Die, two combatants reaching the end of their struggles agree that the only reason to live is to leave a legacy. I find it touching that this film brings a small and precious note of Fleming's to life, so many years after his death.