Lashana Lynch as the new 007 in “Bond 25?” That’s the latest, wild speculation courtesy of The Daily Mail. But, as gimmicky as it seems at first blush, it’s just the kind of shake-up to be expected from director Cary Fukunaga (“Maniac”) and scribe Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag,” “Killing Eve”), who are doing their best to make Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as topical, inclusionary, and memorable as possible.
We already know that Lynch (“Captain Marvel”) plays MI6 agent Nomi, who shadows a retired Bond in Jamaica while CIA buddy Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) tries to recruit him for one last mission. It’s about Bond rescuing a kidnapped scientist (Ana de Armas or David Dencik?), and rumored to involve a genetic engineering scheme hatched by Rami Malek’s baddie. There’s even the supposed return of Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld in a cameo right out of “Silence of the Lambs,” in which “Spectre” Bond lady Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) visits him in prison to extract valuable intel. The imagination stirs with possible connections between the arch-enemy and latest villain (“Diamonds Are Forever” and “Die Another Day” come to mind).
The radical idea of Nomi assuming Bond’s code number in the same movie is rife with excitement and controversy. It’s never happened before (although Bond was temporarily given the code number 7777 in the “You Only Live Twice” novel). But because Bond is not deceased, perhaps there’s a good reason that MI6 has not retired 007 and given it to Nomi. Who knows? Maybe Bond will even be referred to as 7777.
Aside from speculation that Bond naturally tries to seduce his 007 counterpart (Nomi makes Jamaica hot, hot, hot in the sizzle reel), there’s also talk of the “popcorn-dropping moment” when M (Ralph Fiennes) calls for 007 and in walks Nomi. But just think of the delightful possibilities of having Bond interact with his opposite number — a gorgeous black woman who is smart and capable in ways that fit the world today.
At the same time, she would face many of the same fears and anxieties of being 007 that Bond has already dealt with. As a diamond in the rough, he could help mentor her in the same way that he was mentored by M (Judi Dench) in “Casino Royale,” instructing her how to deal with death and operating as more than “a blunt instrument.” For her part, she could help resurrect the love and compassion Bond first experienced with Vesper (Eva Green).
This is definitely where Waller-Bridge comes in, applying her renowned quirky humor and psychological depth to revealing parallels and irony. “But that kind of tipping edge of psychology is really interesting to me,” she told Deadline. “Someone who can kill, and then also be charming. There’s a front that appeals to me. But the wit of it is the thing that I love the most about that franchise. It’s the wit.”
This give and take is also indicative of how Fukunaga wants to wrap up Craig’s Bond and bringing his arc full circle: fulfilling the promise that M had in him (replacing arrogance with self-awareness) and finding salvation via Vesper’s influence as well.