'No Time to Die' raises a few more questions about the spy's past.
Warning: This article reveals a few spoilers.
Last weekend I finally got to see the new James Bond film, No Time to Die. As a fervent fan of 007, I’d been dying to see the film and was absolutely delighted that it was a lengthy 2 hours 45 minutes. So with popcorn, drinks and older kids at the ready, we prepared to be taken into the world of adventure, espionage, and the odd corny joke.
But first and foremost in my head was the burning question: “Will we discover more about James Bond’s religion?” I’d been wondering that for a while.
In the second to last Bond film, Skyfall, viewers were taken to Bond’s family mansion in Scotland, where, amongst the fighting and occasional explosion, we caught sight of a priest hideout that was used during the Protestant Reformation under Elizabeth I by recusant Catholics trying to practice their faith in secret.
This led some viewers to wonder: If Bond’s family were Catholics, where did this leave the spy himself?
This curiosity was piqued once more in the last Bond film, Spectre, in which 007’s response to his love-interest, Madeleine Swann, about what he would have become had he not joined the intelligent services was, “Well, it was either that or the priesthood.”
Of course, this was said in the typical glib Bond style, but still, it was an interesting alternative career choice for 007 — far removed from his profession as a spy.
In the initial scenes of the latest Bond blockbuster, we are taken on a trip to Italy’s coastal city of Matera. While the audience is quickly embroiled in an impressive car chase, behind the screeching tires we witness a tradition similar to that of “The Burning of Judas.”
In keeping with the local tradition, people write the names of those that have caused them pain, and then burn the paper, a symbolic fire that burns away any grudges, and allows the person to forgive.
In the short time Bond is in Matera, between escaping death multiple times, he writes down the name of his past love, Vespa, who betrayed him, and he burns the paper. Was this the beginning of 007, a man with a license to kill, discovering the virtue of showing mercy?
Interestingly, as the film progresses, we see less of the misogynist Bond, and more of a man embracing love, with a desire to protect those he cares about, rather than just save the world from a “regular” devastating terrorist attack.
This change in 007 hasn’t gone unnoticed — in fact many critics have felt he’d become too far removed from Fleming’s initial character. But maybe this was a reflection on the actor who has incarnated Bond for the last five films — Daniel Craig.
Craig hasn’t hidden the fact he wasn’t overly comfortable taking part in gratuitous sex scenes, common in the past Bond films. In fact, over his 15 years as Bond, the British actor has developed his character to focus more on the job in hand, and the scantily-clad Bond girls of yesteryear have been replaced by women of greater virtue, skills, and talent.
While I’m dying to discuss the final scenes in the movie, with Bond dodging bullets, trying to prevent the spread of a genetically-engineered virus, and setting things straight with his colleague — the other 007 — and his love interest, Madeleine Swann, I think it’s interesting to note that while this Bond film is a goodbye to Daniel Craig’s tenure as 007, perhaps it’s also a beginning to a new Bond era.
A spy who seems a little less merciless, who’s capable of love and sacrifice, and one who might even respect women … maybe Commander Bond is slowly returning to his Catholic heritage? In the end, perhaps 007 is on the road to becoming the hero we’ve always wanted him to be — with the usual impressive gadgets that don’t disappoint.