Never mind the explosions – how sexist is No Time to Die? | James bond

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In No time to die, James Bond is “retired” and a new agent has therefore taken on his 007 title. “The world has changed, Commander Bond,” purrs Nomi of Lashana Lynch. 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 interventions, designed to refresh the franchise for a contemporary audience.

It’s a bit tedious to ask yourself “What was the sexism like?” instead of “How was the movie? Still, that may be a valid question, given the film’s two-year advertising campaign, which also focused on the film’s modcons (the addition of Lynch and Fleabag creator Phoebe Waller -Bridge as a co-writer) than on the departure of Daniel Craig. . In fact, the same is not true of the film, which is a faded retro romance and lavish farewell party for Craig. It was designed to be crowd-pleasing, with more dumb jokes and gimmicks, and less meanness than the viewers viewers were used to in Craig’s day. Waller-Bridge, written for script polish and, presumably, her feminist credentials, lightened the mood with her signature deadpan one-liners. In a mischievous ploy to restore the balance of the show’s distinctly masculine gaze, there are now chances for audience members to ogle Bond in various states of undress (women mostly remain clothed). It’s the Equal Opportunity Leap, and Craig seems more than a game.

In the 15 years since Craig’s Bond arrived and later emerged from the ocean, the world has changed. Craig himself admitted it in a meeting in 2015. “I hope my Bond isn’t so sexist and misogynistic. I am certainly not that person. But it is, ”he told Esquire magazine. Even director Cary Joji Fukanaga admitted that the creepy returns from previous Bonds are no longer welcome. “Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where Sean Connery’s character rapes a woman?” It wouldn’t fly today, ”he told The Hollywood Reporter.

In No Time to Die, the perpetual playboy traded in his bed-hopping habit for respectable monogamy. Léa Seydoux’s psychiatrist Madeline Swann, who first appeared in Specter in 2015, is the first of Bond’s love interests to return – if anything, a conservative adjustment. I guess it’s worth noting that unlike most of her previous conquests, Madeline isn’t that throwaway. This damsel in distress is handy with a gun, but most of all, she drives the intrigue and raises the stakes. She is, at least, allowed to wear a pair of jeans, their functionality nullified by the fact that they are white and the fact that she wears them with stiletto heels. I understand – stripping a Bond girl of all her glamor would be too complicated. Bond is, after all, still a fantasy.

It is then interesting to see what elements of the fantasy the new film got rid of. One example is the women who can’t help but fall at Bond’s feet. Amusingly, the Daily Mail reported Bond’s ‘friendly relationship with his female colleagues’ as if it were news. Any flirtation on duty is suddenly nipped in the bud. Ana De Armas’ trainee agent Paloma pushes Bond into a wine cellar before unbuttoning his shirt, then hands him his tuxedo and turns around. She’s dressed like a Bond girl, in a plunging silk dress and open back, but with her wacky sense of humor and athletic gunslinger, she certainly doesn’t act like one. “You were excellent,” says Bond, a line played straight instead of seducing. Elsewhere, Nomi lures Bond to his room for a private meeting, making it clear that she is serious. Literally.

Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch at the World Premiere of No Time to Die. Photograph: Lia Toby / Getty Images

Lynch is a zesty addition, bringing charisma and wit to a committed role. Nomi looks like a symbolic achievement, not a character. We are shown and told about her competence and the respect she commands, but we do not learn anything about her inner life or her story. Naturally, the film wants to celebrate the fact that a black woman has infiltrated and rose through the ranks of such an institution, but is uncomfortable drawing attention to her race. Indeed, the only attempt to acknowledge Nomi’s ethnicity is a flippant, nailed-down moment that sees her cathartically dealing with a racist remark.

The film’s relentless efforts to carve out a more progressive form fell short of its success. This, I think, is due to Craig, who managed to give Bond’s macho swagger his own twist. Throughout his tenure, the actor immersed himself in Bond’s inner turmoil, in turn revealing his humanity. In No Time to Die in particular, Craig opens up, exposing a vulnerable beating heart beneath the distant, weather-beaten exterior.

Lynch is more of the old-fashioned Bond mold; a sweet, charming and impenetrable figure. Yet the film itself is reluctant to view her as truly Bond’s successor. It is pointed out that although it is the new 007, the title is only a number. There will only ever be one James Bond.


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