The words “Bond, James Bond” typically command respect and deference from the world, as Ian Fleming’s super spy is quite a known quantity in the world of espionage. But in No Time To Die, Ana de Armas’ Paloma, much like the rest of the world, doesn’t see 007 as the mythic presence he was before he retired from active service. That’s not an accident either, as Daniel Craig himself was excited to see Bond get brought down a peg, especially for his final outing in the legendary role.
Not only was Daniel Craig interested in seeing this “myth-pricking” treatment of James Bond take root in No Time To Die, but it was something that was encouraged in the most recent round of drafts. Just as Craig was enthusiastic for Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge to jump in and turn the 25th 007 adventure on its head, the soon departing franchise lead was excited with how she could put her own personal spin on the spy whose name is known worldwide. As he spoke with Total Film, Daniel Craig described the balancing act of James Bond’s legacy in the new film as follows:
Phoebe came on, and she injected some brilliance into the situation, and a tone I was really after. What we wanted to do was... not ridicule him. It’s sharing in the fun with the audience. But you’ve got to be respectful of what it is.
Paloma, in particular, seems to have gained from the talents of Phoebe Waller-Bridge, as her No Time To Die hiring built Ana de Armas’ character up with that sort of intent. Rather than just reverting to a world that all of a sudden maintains respect for James Bond after a good several years off duty, Bond has to now earn his title back, so to speak. So while it sounds like there’s definitely humorous deflating of the 007 ego, there’s a measured tone in how it’s done.
It’s easy to pull a Never Say Never Again and throw in a ton of jokes about James Bond being older, and there are definitely gags like that in No Time To Die. We see one such moment between Daniel Craig and series newcomer Lashana Lynch, as she threatens to shoot Bond in the knee “that works.” But at the same time, Nomi respects Bond enough to work with him in the field, while also giving him hell in her own exciting way. Which, in its own way, ties into Lashana Lynch’s feelings on how No Time To Die treats James Bond differently:
Bond is going to be Bond no matter what happens. But it’s about how people react to him. That’s the difference between the earlier films. In this film we are vocal. We are opinionated. We know how to stop [Bond] in his tracks, and to teach him something.
As No Time To Die is supposed to close out the Daniel Craig era of James Bond adventures, the fact that this final film is a bookend to the work that Craig started with Casino Royale is becoming more apparent. Thinking back to how that first film knocked Bond around as a green rookie, as well as let Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd cut him down to size every now and then, there looks to be more of that comedic edge to this 25th installment. And if the world has taught us anything, it’s that when James Bond has that chip on his shoulder, things tend to get reckless and/or dangerous.
Audiences will get to see how Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch represent the future of the Bond woman in No Time To Die, when it opens on September 30 in the UK and October 8 in the US. But that doesn’t mean you should hold your cinematic breath until the day that Daniel Craig’s swan song hits theaters. 2021’s release schedule is chock full of excitement and danger, should you be in the mood for that sort of thing.