Daniel Craig‘s final outing as MI6 agent James Bond was, quite literally, long overdue. With its original director Danny Boyle‘s exit in 2018 followed by a number of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020 and into 2021, Cary Fukunaga‘s No Time to Die finally concluded Craig’s journey as 007 that began in 2005’s Casino Royale. But before its release, many speculated as to exactly how Craig would retire the mantle.
Though the returning cast was full of familiar faces – such as Léa Seydoux‘s Madeleine Swan, Ben Whishaw‘s Q, Naomie HarrisEve Moneypenny, and Ralph Fiennes‘M – there were also a number of surprises, such as the inclusion of Jeffrey Wright‘s Felix Leiter and Christoph Waltz‘s Blofeld. And fresh off his Academy Award-winning performance as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, Rami Malek would go on to play the main villain, Safin. Yet two newcomers to the cast posed some interesting yet exciting possibilities, Craig’s costar from Knives Out, Ana de Armasand Captain Marvel‘s Lashana Lynch. Early reports hinted at Lynch’s character as taking up the 007 moniker, and those reports proved to be true. In No Time to DieLynch’s Nomi inherits the title after Bond’s years in retirement following Specter. She’s young, confident, skilled, and beautiful – not quite a femme fatale yet far from the traditional damsel-in-distress Bond girl. She’s the logical candidate to take on Bond’s codename, and in many ways, she surpasses him.
We’ve already seen Craig’s Bond come back from retirement and bent out of shape in Skyfall when Monneypenny shoots Bond off a train in a mission gone wrong, but pitting him against Lynch’s Nomi in No Time to Die emphasizes just how far Bond has come from his earlier adventures. Bond is in love and, after years of his service to British intelligence, can finally settle down with Madeleine Swan, or so he thinks. This also puts him in a vulnerable position, as Spectre’s attack on him and Vesper’s grave in Matera, Italy shows. He quickly escapes with Madeleine only to separate from her to protect her. But Bond isn’t just emotionally vulnerable – the job has taken its toll on his body, too.
Five years later, when Nomi seemingly seduces Bond in Jamaica, Bond meets the latest 007, and she’s not holding back. Nomi facetiously flirts with him, “I’m a diver… I have a thing for old wrecks.” When she leads Bond into his bedroom, she reveals herself to be an agent, one whose confidence shows it. Anticipating that Bond would also go after a high-profile target, Dr. Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik), Nomi threatens the former 007: “You get in my way, I’ll put a bullet in your knee… The one that works.” Nomi is the perfect age to make a mockery of Bond’s years of brutal injuries. Nomi’s confidence is a clever tool to put his ego in check, humbling Craig’s Bond even in his final film.
When they get to Cuba, Nomi arrives in style – deboarding her own plane, showing off her shiny shades, and giving Bond a bold smile. Bond, on the other hand, had to make the trek from Jamaica to Cuba on a boat. And when Bond, with the help of de Armas’ Paloma, seemingly gets to Dr. Obruchev first, Nomi smashes through the ceiling with a bungee chord and snatches him up: “May I cut in?” she taunts. She not only demonstrates her confidence but also her skills as a sharpshooter, fatally hitting each of Spectre’s henchmen with an accurate shot. If she wasn’t by herself going up against both Bond and Paloma, there’s no doubt Nomi would have successfully completed her mission rather than losing Obruchev. When the authorities seemingly have her cornered, Nomi shoots at a transformer that draws out sparks that help her escape. Even when she retreats, Nomi does so in style.
Throughout No Time to Die, Nomi’s brash and cool demeanor never falter. Even though she lost Obruchev in Cuba, she gets to give the final words to him before his death. Standing over Safin’s virus farm, Nomi jokingly asks the doctor a question, “Do you know what time it is?” “What?” the doctor answers, puzzled. And, with probably the best one-liner in the entire film and franchise, Nomi says, “Time to die,” then pushes Orbuchev into a vat of toxic chemicals. Her delivery isn’t cliched at all. As a testament to Lashana Lynch’s performance, the line comes off smoother than what Bond had to say before escaping Blofeld’s torture device in Specter (“Doesn’t time fly?”).
With Craig’s final entry, there was no better time to change things up with the introduction of Nomi, who not only takes up his codename but manages to surpass him in confidence and skill. James Bond has always been known for his smooth talk and cool demeanor; it’s a part of his legacy with every iteration. Yet, especially with Daniel Craig, the contemporary Bond evokes a more subdued charm rather than a flamboyant swagger. In No Time to Die, Bond is more than a seasoned veteran who’s been through the wringer, leaving room for Nomi’s sexy bravado. “She’s a disarming young woman,” Bond calls her.
But even in their rivalry, Nomi recognizes Bond with respect. Before Bond’s final mission, Nomi asks M, “Permission for Commander Bond to be redesignated as 007.” It was a fitting gesture, as Bond meets a heroic death after defeating Safin and his plan of mass genocide. One would assume Nomi would reclaim the 007 title at the end of the film as M, Q, Moneypenny, and the rest of MI6 carry on without him. And if there’s anyone who could take up the mantle in this iteration of James Bond, Lashana Lynch’s Nomi is the perfect candidate.