Saeed Shirkhani

You DON’T have all the time in the world

November 17, 2021 - 18:45

[Spoiler Alert] What makes the last James Bond movie unique? Is that less than ten minutes’ appearance of Ana de Armas as a typical Bond Girl that was fed up in social media by fans – actually not very typical cause Bond couldn’t capture her soul in that short period –? Or the – not so brilliant – characterization by Rami Malek as a Russian-Japanese Mr. Robot that wants to capture the world by an army of nanorobots harvested in a World War II abandoned base – A cliché within another cliché.

Probably you’re thinking of the puzzle of Spectre that finally solved after a series of movies, but the main reason for No Time To Die’s uniqueness can be summarized in one sentence: it’s the MOST “Flemingian” Bond movie, as well as the MOST exaggeratedly progressive.

The 2021 Bond is progressive because of the fast and ridiculous evolution from the womanizer we knew with an immoral “Licence to Kill” to a gnostic, family man who accepted his faith in less than a minute –remember how he escaped death multiple times during the movie with an irrational jump, a Futsurei (Japanese bowing while kneeling) or by touching his high-tech wristwatch. Besides that, after a long line of white male actors in the franchise, the new 00 agent (Nomi) surprisingly is neither man nor white, but a “black woman” – a giant leap for progressiveness.

Though it’s not certain if Lashana Lynch would be the new 007 from now on, the first installment of Bond movies filmed since the 2017 #Metoo movement doesn’t like/dare to take steps in the old style. The characterization of women is still sketchy and superficial – even though they collaborated with Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the screenplay – especially when Bond returns to MI6 and Nomi finds her new title in danger; she acts like an agent recruited from the Mean Girls team.

The movie is the most Flemingian cause it has suffocated itself with ideology. After a harsh barrage in a historical Italian city, former 007 spends his retirement in a resident resembling the famous Ian Fleming’s Goldeneye, a resort in colonial Jamaica where the former intelligence officer of the British Royal Navy, created this fictional character to glorify the golden days of “the Empire on which the sun never sets.” As we expect, Bond gets back soon on the track of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with some hyperbolic dialogue with M about the country, national interests, responsibility and etc.

As many film scholars have pointed out, writing James Bond novels during the humiliating collapse of the British Empire after the World War II was like a bereavement for Fleming. It even followed – almost to the letter – the classic sequence of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance. But unlike the novels, it seems the movies don’t want the viewer to reach the acceptance level. That’s where Bond’s “you have all the time in the world” line comes from. The misinformed audience, at this point, is left with the idea that there is still a chance to save Bond, to save the Empire. Still, the bitter truth is unveiled in the final scenes of No Time to Die: it’s time to die! Sarcastically talking, perhaps Bond – you read Britain – has finally accepted that it’s been decades since the sunset in the Empire.

After four movies with “Daniel Craig” as James Bond, it’s the last setting for Craig and seemingly for Bond character. As Craig mentioned in a 2015 interview, he’d rather “slash his wrists” than return the character and quipped that if he did come back, it would only be for money. He did return, of course, and ironically in No Time To Die’s ending, his character sacrificed his life for the sake of the modern audience and saving the future of the Bond franchise, which leads to one main reason: Money. So don’t fall for the delusion of “progressiveness.” It’s all about the money, and in that realm, the movie stands at the edge of what’s technically possible…