James Bond is a hero. A flawed hero who womanizes, drinks too much, smoked too much at times, is an emotional dead zone, and treats the world around him as a series of transactions without consequence.
Yet, Bond is an icon. He’s also an adolescent boy’s fantasy. A character who made the loner lifestyle cool as he lived to satisfy his material and carnal impulses while vicariously allowing us to do the same, and take out some bad guys along the way. All without consequences.
Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond is all of these things. The perfectly tailored Tom Ford suits and Omega watches; beautiful women who came and went; a man of action who fell off the grid multiple times feeding the empty allure of ambivalence only to be lured back. But there were consequences.
We know why Craig’s Bond drank too much, retreated from the fight, and cut himself off emotionally. But Craig’s Bond is a good man. He always helped his friends and, most importantly, he allowed himself to love multiple times proving all of those other pursuits were all a facade and a good man’s flawed method to cope with trauma.
But we are all flawed too. Some of us drink too much. We make impulsive decisions. We dull our feelings by buying too many things we don’t need and buying into the fantasy that everything will be okay as we look inward and away from suffering and injustice.
I suspect many of us don’t want to acknowledge that. Some don’t want their James Bond to be self-aware. Just shut up and drive the fast cars, wear the nice clothes, have sex with all of the women, and kill the bad guys with a smile and a joke, some might say. What consequences?
I’m so happy Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond wanted to subvert that. From Casino Royale to No Time to Die, Craig wanted to make us feel something. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but he wanted to tell us something. He wanted us to face the consequences.
More than anything else, Craig’s Bond shows us we can all be heroes again. In other eras, it often felt like Bond did good deeds because what else was was he going to do? It was his job. Not in Craig’s movies. Goodness and redemption were choices he actively made to bring his true self back to the surface.
Craig’s Bond could never be judged by those fancy suits, cars, and transactional relationships. He challenged us to take the time to look deeper in a time we all make snap judgements about people who display qualities we don’t like or have the audacity to be imperfect.
Craig’s Bond reminds us that people are never perfect and that imperfection doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of extraordinary goodness. (Unless you’re evil, of course.) Goodness comes in different packages and you have to take the time to look beyond the facades we all present. Our selfless deeds matter more than our occasional selfish pursuits. That you always have a choice to shake off your ambivalence and re-engage with the world. That you can love again.
No Time to Die gives us a Bond that has never been more thrilling and heroic. It’s a movie that loves its history and celebrates Daniel Craig’s memorable run as the most iconic hero in cinema history. It also gives us the one thing we always want our heroes to impart upon us: hope.
Hope that we too can forgive ourselves and others. We too can be better regardless of consequences.
So what did I think of No Time to Die?
I loved it.