In No Time to Die, James Bond is “retired,” so a new agent has taken his 007 title. “The world goes on, Commander Bond,” Lashana Lynch’s Nomi purrs. She … yes, she is a young black woman. Lynch’s casting as a member of M16 is just one of No Time to Die’s performances, designed to refresh the franchise for a contemporary audience.
It’s a bit tedious being asked “How was sexism?” instead of “How was the movie?” It’s perhaps a valid question though, given the film’s two-year ad campaign, which has focused both on the movie’s modcons (the addition of Lynch and Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge as co-writer) and in the departure of Daniel Craig. . Not really the same with the movie, which is a dazzling retro romance and a lavish going-away party for Craig. It’s been designed to please the crowd, with more goofy pranks and gimmicks and less wickedness than viewers were used to in the Craig era. Written to polish the script and probably her feminist credentials, Waller-Bridge has lightened the mood with her simple lines. In a mischievous ploy to restore balance to the show’s distinctly masculine gaze, there are now chances for audience members to ogle Bond in various states of undress (the women mostly remain clothed). It’s Bond’s equal opportunity, and Craig seems like more than a game.
In the 15 years since Craig’s Bond arrived and later left the ocean, the world has changed. Craig himself admitted it in an interview in 2015. “Hopefully my Bond is not that sexist and misogynistic. I’m certainly not that person. But it is, ”he told Esquire magazine. Even director Cary Joji Fukanaga has acknowledged that previous Bonds’ creepy comments are no longer welcome. “Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where basically Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman? That wouldn’t work today, ”he told the Hollywood Reporter.
In No Time to Die, the perpetual playboy has traded his bedtime habit for respectable monogamy. Léa Seydoux’s psychiatrist Madeline Swann, who first appeared in 2015’s Specter, is the first of Bond’s love interests to return, if anything, a conservative shift. I suppose it is noteworthy that, unlike most of her previous conquests, Madeline is not all that disposable. This damsel in distress is skilled with a weapon, but more importantly, she directs the plot and raises the stakes. At the very least, you are allowed to wear one pair of jeans, their practicality canceled out by the fact that they are white and the fact that you wear them with stilettos. I get it: stripping a Bond girl of all her glamor would be too tricky. Bond is still, after all, a fantasy.
It is interesting then to see what elements of fantasy the new film has dispensed with. One example is women who cannot avoid falling at Bond’s feet. Amusingly, the Daily Mail reported Bond’s “friendly relationship with his female colleagues” as news. Any flirting at work is energetically nipped in the bud. Paloma, Ana De Armas’ trainee agent, shoves Bond into a cellar before unbuttoning his shirt, then hands him his tux and turns around. She’s dressed like a Bond girl, in a plunging, backless silk dress, but with her goofy sense of humor and athletic athleticism, she sure isn’t acting like one. “You were excellent,” declares Bond, a straight played line rather than a seduction. Elsewhere, Nomi lures Bond into her room for a private meeting, making it clear that she is serious. Literally.
Lynch is an enthusiastic addition, bringing charisma and wit to a secured role. Nomi feels like a symbolic achievement, not a character. He shows us and talks about his competence and the respect he imposes, but we learn nothing about his inner life or his backstory. Understandably, the film wants to celebrate the fact that a black woman has infiltrated and risen through the ranks of such an institution, but is not comfortable drawing attention to her race. In fact, the only attempt to acknowledge Nomi’s ethnicity is a simplistic, aggregated moment where you see her cathartically grapple with a racist comment.
The film’s meticulous efforts to adapt to a more progressive form are not the measure of its success. That, I think, is due to Craig, who has managed to put his own spin on Bond’s macho arrogance. Throughout his tenure, the actor has delved into Bond’s inner turmoil and, in turn, revealed his humanity. Especially in No Time to Die, Craig opens wide, exposing a vulnerable heart beating beneath the distant, weather-beaten exterior.
Lynch is more of the old-school Bond mold; a soft, charming and inscrutable figure. Still, the movie itself is tentative in genuinely considering it to be Bond’s successor. It is emphasized that although she could be the new 007, the title is just a number. There will only be one James Bond.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism