***This blog post contains spoilers about 'No Time To Die.'***
The best way to go out, I’d presume, is by rapid disassembly at a molecular level. An atomic purging of one’s construct into smaller, less visible, non-sentient scatterings. To arrive beyond in an instant that only the most divine engineer could witness. How does one find their way to such a grand exit? A departure of such magnitude it’s backlit by an operatic crescendo? Well, you live long enough.
James Bond is dead at 53. A martyr of sorts.
Two weeks before I screened ‘No Time to Die’ my son was born. We call him Cal. Not short for anything. My father possesses a family timetable that dates back to the Crusades, and all the men of the Janes lineage have bore lengthy, preposterous monikers from said list. My brother’s name is 10-syllables for god’s sake. I wasn’t having it. The world will learn that Cal is his own species despite his historical encircling. Ex Virtute Bonos, much like Bond.
Daniel Craig is 007 to me, although I fear it may be proximity bias. He was assigned the role as I matured into adulthood and he looks like we could be kin. He is Welsh, of course, but Ian Fleming’s original conscript was half-Scottish, half-Swiss. My blood hails from Essex, a mere four hours south from Craig’s manor in Chester, albeit in a different country.
In the 27th installment of our beloved series, Bond falls in the film’s final minutes. Standing atop a disputed stronghold, grinning at the sky above the South Pacific Sea as a flurry of ballistic missiles breeze in from a friendly element. The powers that be, the Broccolis, have never done this before. Given the actor portraying James a sure adieu and the opportunity to bow.
During the film, we as an audience learn that our hero has fathered a child with Dr. Madeleine Swann—who is as dense a magnet for chaotic subterfuge as Bond. Another welcomed wild pitch away from what we mark as tradition in the 007 universe.
My best friend and longtime consigliere Devs turns to me between handfuls of M&Ms and says, “Holy shit, this is your life.” He’s not wrong. At 36, I’ve just had my first child. A radiant waypoint amongst a life peppered with violence, the challenges of love and a brood known for infighting. As much as the timetable exists, upon it may be the sole colocation of my clan.
The new 007 obliterates the imposition of sleuth in favor of force and purpose. At a muscular 5’8” she is an imposing figure. She. A franchise once ripe with predictability has burst through the skylight to participate in the era in which we exist. By unravelling the storytelling tropes they were once reliant upon, this iteration of the superspy aims to nullify what the presence of a woman meant in the preceding accounts.
Nomi is the character’s name. Her introduction assaults Bond with a warning to which he pays little to no heed. The actress Lashana Lynch is an immovable pro among gentlemen with heavier resumes; to include Ralph Fiennes returning as M, and Jeffrey Wright reprising his role as the CIA’s Felix Leiter for what proves to be the final time.
My hope in forward speculation is that she returns—in the very least—as a gravitational interloper, a stern bishop to Bond’s queen, whether we find Tom Hardy or Richard Madden as the next incarnation.
This progressive rendition of an old classic never feels like it’s placating an agenda because it’s not. Our world is diverse, inclusive and burgeoning with variables from every facet of human existence. As fantastical as it is that the villain's henchmen lack any iota of marksmanship, this Bond feels like a legible translation of real life.
Long after I’m gone, my hope is Cal will revisit the Daniel Craig 007 era. A 5-film coursework where we see a combative, aging figure of irrefutable tenure reclaim his seat as the figurehead of masculine protocol with the honorable acceptance of his ill fate.
Our villain this go round is haunting in his methodology, a scorn son of begotten murder, and calm practitioner of mass murder by blood borne pathogen. Rami Malek (Mr. Robot, Bohemian Rhapsody) moves like an apparition throughout his performance and delivers dialogue as if it's being cast in stone. In one such offering he chastises Bond for his shortsightedness saying, “…your skills die with your body. Mine will survive long after I’m gone.”
To evolve in the moment before your demise may seem counterintuitive, yet this cross-pollination of enlightenment and entropy wove its way into the anecdotes of both top-billed characters. If you must live by the sword, you may die by the sword. The least you can do is leave a tradition away from the blade.