Daniel Craig has described the final cinematic journey of his James Bond as "spectacular", with critics agreeing the pandemic-delayed film was well worth the wait.
The blockbuster’s stars including Craig, Lea Seydoux and Lashana Lynch joined with a quartet of leading royals, celebrities and young US Open champion Emma Raducanu at No Time To Die’s world premiere in London on Tuesday night.
"Bond movies are to be seen in the cinema and this one especially. It’s spectacular," Craig, who is stepping back from the role of 007 after five films since 2006, told the PA news agency from the rain-swept red carpet at the Royal Albert Hall premiere.
The sentiment was shared by reviewers from The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and The Times who all gave the movie five stars.
Robbie Collin, The Telegraph’s Film Critic, said director Cary Joji Fukunaga’s "extravagantly satisfying, bulgingly proportioned last chapter to the Craig era … throws almost everything there is left to throw at 007 the series can come up with".
They aced it. https://t.co/iYrMW0I429 #NoTimeToDie
— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) September 28, 2021
The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the world premiere, in a rare joint royal engagement on the red carpet.
The Royal family met the stars, including Craig, who complimented the Duchess of Cambridge in her dazzling gold gown.
"You look jolly lovely," he told her.
Daniel Craig was full of praise for the Duchess of Cambridge's outfit
Credit: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images
Actors tipped to replace Craig include Venom star Tom Hardy and Bridgerton’s Rege-Jean Page.
On his advice for his successor, Craig said at the premiere: "Just make it your own, be brilliant. Take it somewhere wonderful."
The best-dressed stars at the James Bond premiere, from Emma Raducanu to the Duchess of Cambridge
The movie was due for release in April 2020 but was postponed as the first wave of Covid-19 broke and repeatedly pushed back as the pandemic took hold.
With the cinema industry in the doldrums, the keenly anticipated film, which will be released in UK cinemas on Thursday, is expected to herald a major return of filmgoers.
Fukunaga told PA he was delighted audiences would be able to enjoy the movie on the big screen.
"I was so happy people are getting to see it in a cinema," the American said.
"We made this, especially shooting on Imax and all the work we did on sound, all the sequences were meant to be seen larger than life on the big screen and shared with audiences for that contagious feeling of emotions when you’re in a cinema."
Daniel Craig and Clara Amfo at the world premiere
Credit: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
What other reviewers had to say about the latest Bond film
The Times’ Kevin Maher described the Fukunaga effort as "magnificent" and delivered on the potential Craig’s first Bond film Casino Royale teased in 2006. Swedish cinematographer Linus Sandgren was praised for making the movie "visually astonishing" while Craig’s performance was also celebrated.
Maher said: "He’s a towering charismatic presence from opening frame to closing shot, and he bows out in terrific, soulful, style. His, perhaps, is an impossible act to follow."
Damon Smith gave No Time To Die an 8/10 rating in his review for PA: "No Time To Die is the most emotionally satisfying chapter under Craig’s guardianship and the subtle nods to the past 20 years sever some ties to the past and provide exciting opportunities for reinvention in the future.
"Bond will return and he or she will be a better person for it."
The Sun’s Dulcie Pearce gave No Time to Die four stars out of five. She said Craig "exits the franchise with a bang", reserving special praise for the "simply spectacular" stunts.
However, Pearce found fault with the film’s run time of two hours and 43 minutes, writing "there are times you want to get a defibrillator out and give it a much quicker pulse".
She added: "The storyline feels like there were too many cooks, but it still tastes familiar enough to be craved."
Empire magazine also gave it four stars, with reviewer John Nugent writing: "This is a Bond film that dutifully ticks all the boxes – but brilliantly, often doesn’t feel like a Bond film at all. For a 007 who strived to bring humanity to larger-than-life hero, it’s a fitting end to the Craig era."
Writing in The Independent, Clarisse Loughrey gave the film three stars out of five: "What’s most disappointing about the film is how uneventful the whole thing feels." Remi Malek’s performance was underwhelming, according to the review, which states the Oscar-winner "gives almost nothing to the role beyond his accent and stereotyped disfigurement makeup".
But Craig’s performance was a fitting end, Loughrey wrote.
She said: "He is brilliant in No Time to Die, in a way that outshines everything around him. His granite-carved features crumple in just such a way, always at the right moment – his Bond contains an ocean of battered emotions trying to reach the surface."
Daniel Craig attends the world premiere of No Time to Die at Royal Albert Hall
Credit: Tristan Fewings
How stars reacted to No Time to Die
In 1969, George Lazenby’s brief fling with agent 007 in the swooningly romantic On Her Majesty’s Secret Service delivered the most heartbreaking denouement of any mission – "It’s alright … she’s having a rest" – perfectly underscored by composer John Barry’s melancholic strings.
Los Angeles-based Lazenby was unable to attend the world premier of the latest Bond film and tweeted his reaction below:
Since it wasn’t feasible for me to be in London for the World premiere I got to see the new Bond here in LA. Interesting choices of music I must say 😊 @007 pic.twitter.com/JVx2z5ST4G
— George Lazenby (@lazenbyofficial) September 28, 2021
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said it was wonderful to see the return of 007 on the big screen:
Wonderful to see @007 back on our big screens! 🎬
No Time To Die is the 25th Bond film and Daniel Craig’s last after 15 years in the role.
It showcases the inspirational work of actors, musicians, directors, cinematographers and all those involved in making the film so special. pic.twitter.com/vZJ4s0NMId
— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) September 28, 2021
Daniel Craig said the James Bond movies were made for fans and he could not wait for them to watch No Time to Die, especially after the Covid pandemic:
Daniel Craig on making #NoTimeToDie for the fans. pic.twitter.com/dbCRytXF74
— James Bond (@007) September 28, 2021