Don't get me wrong -- I've thoroughly enjoyed many James Bond movies, and loved several. I am a fan of the franchise, overall. But James Bond has never been an actual hero for me. His movies deliver adrenaline-fueled fun, and that's all I need from them.
I'm not sure what I think about No Time to Die overall. I think it was a little longer than necessary, and I still haven't figured out a couple things. Which means I just need to watch it over again, that's all. A second viewing will determine whether I quite like it, or just kinda like it.
But I know I loved one thing. I love that James Bond got to be really, truly my hero for the first time that I can really remember. Oh, he always gets to play the hero: stop the bad guys, save the day, put himself into harm's way for queen and country. But that's different than actually being my hero.
The moment that made him my hero is kinda spoilery, so maybe don't read farther if you're caring about spoilage. Go see it, come back and read this after, etc.
You see, James Bond gets to do something in this movie that he often fails to do: he saves the girl. Yes, I know there have been Bond girls who've survived to the end of the movie before. They don't all die. But back in GoldenEye (1995) when Alec Trevelyan taunts Bond about all the dead women he failed to protect... he's onto something. A lot of Bond girls die in a lot of Bond movies. And it's usually somehow Bond's fault -- he's usually just a little too late.
So, it was a big and exciting moment for me when James Bond put the woman he loves, another woman, and a little girl into a raft and sent them away to safety. Because, in that moment, he became the truest, highest, realest kind of man. A real man who will shield and shelter women and children with his every resource, including his own life.
And that woman he loves? She does what real women do: she realizes the gravity of the situation and accepts his protection. She does not pretend she doesn't need his protection or his help. She does not scorn it. She does not protest at all. He offers to send her to safety, and she goes.
Did I then cry? I did. I got tears of pride and joy in my eyes, watching James Bond become, at long last, my hero. That moment was worth the price of admission, the price of my popcorn and Coke, and the slightly overblown runtime. I was so thoroughly happy. Well done.