LONDON - James Bond film No Time To Die may be debuting 18 months later due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but most critics said it was worth the wait.
Reviews lavished praise on Daniel Craig's fifth and last outing after a 15-year tenure as the suave British secret agent, which began with 2006's Casino Royale.
Originally due for release in April 2020 and delayed three times since, No Time To Die held its world premiere in London on Tuesday, with its stars and British royals in attendance.
"It’s #DanielCraig’s most grounded and — dare I say it? — most intimate take on #JamesBond with a powerful, unexpected & very emotional payoff. Def worth the wait!," film critic Scott Mantz tweeted.
Giving the movie five stars, Kevin Maher of Britain's The Times newspaper said it was "better than good. It’s magnificent."
"Craig has occasionally been a divisive figure during this five movie stint, from his initial casting ... to his dour performance-style to his off-screen rants about the iniquities of the gig," he wrote.
"Yet all sins are forgiven here. He’s a towering charismatic presence from opening frame to closing shot, and he bows out in terrific, soulful, style."
Costing an estimated $200 million (S$272 million) to produce, No Time To Die sees Bond come out of retirement to help track down new villain Safin (Rami Malek), who is armed with lethal technology.
"Craig’s final film as the diva of British intelligence is an epic barnstormer ... delivering pathos, action, drama, camp comedy ... heartbreak, macabre horror, and outrageously silly old-fashioned action," The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw wrote.
He also gave it five stars.
However some criticised the storyline and length.
"... The path to Craig’s momentous departure is drowning in plot; it’s so convoluted and protracted you might find yourself zoning out through much of the villainy," David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote.
"Even so, it’s doubtful that this will be a deal-breaker for many Bond completists ... Even if the two-and-three-quarter hour running time is occasionally a slog, it ultimately delivers."
The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey gave it three stars.
"(Director) Cary Joji Fukunaga has made a smashing piece of action cinema ... it’s just a shame it had to be a Bond film," she wrote, adding it felt "strangely anti-climatic" given the hype.
The movie introduces 00 agent Nomi, played by Lashana Lynch.
"Malek is not the only newcomer to make his mark though as Lashana Lynch impresses as Nomi," Digital Spy's Ian Sandwell wrote. "Quick with the one-liners and adept at the stunts, she's instantly likeable and develops a fun friction with Bond."