While enjoying the 25th instalment of the iconic James Bond franchise, I was reminded of the critical reception which met the film upon release, regarding its incredibly diverse cast and the absence of so many of the motifs of Bond films which have seen the series become associated with sexism and toxic masculinity. No Time to Die is a movie committed to rewriting dialogues and changing perception, committed to remedying the social missteps of its older siblings.
"Toxic masculinity" is a phrase which is often thrown around in the discussion of Bond films. A Bond movie of the 1970s which neglected to feature big guns, fast cars, heavy drinking, and naked women in the opening credits could hardly be called a Bond movie at all. In what threatens to be the final episode of the 60-year series, No Time to Die’s producers change this narrative entirely, beginning with the opening scenes.
After his car breaks down, Bond accepts a lift home from a Jamaican woman on a moped, who, upon entering his house, promptly shows herself into his bedroom. Just when you thought he was about to win over his first lover of the movie in 15 minutes, she removes a wig and identifies herself as the new 007, Nomi, played excellently by Lashana Lynch.
The writers waste no time in introducing a confident, black, female character as a direct replacement for Bond, an archetypal and outdated white male protagonist, setting the tone for what would prove to be a revolutionary addition to the Bond series.
This change in tone continues in the following scene. On a mission in Cuba, Bond is assigned an attractive female partner. He attempts to put the moves on her but is awkwardly rejected, his new partner proving to be a perfectly capable spy rather than another pushover lover.
The addition of so many influential minority characters brings Bond into the modern age of filmmaking which doesn’t have much room for the womanizing superspy of the past.
The changes have been expertly implemented in such a way that distinctly changes the series’ narrative while maintaining important elements of its character. The film is still distinctly Bond, featuring the car chases, gunfights, mischief, and drama which the film would have been lost without.
Bond the womanizer is replaced by Bond the lover, who would sooner die in the name of love than live without it. His motivations are both fundamentally changed and remain the same, and, while the new Bond has died a hero, No Time to Die opens the door to a world of new possibilities for the franchise.
Whether the series continues to follow Nomi or Madeleine and Mathilde, the future is bright for 007.