Hailed as Daniel Craig’s final appearance as James Bond and marking the 25th film in the 007 franchise, No Time to Die had a lot to live up to. When the film finally released after countless pandemic pushbacks, No Time to Die delivered on its promise and brought a lot to the table. A new 007 in Nomi (Lashana Lynch), a terrifying villain, Safin (Rami Malek), and to Bond’s surprise, a daughter that shares his unmistakable striking blue eyes. But among the new plotlines, bloodlines, and characters, one key player stood above the rest: CIA agent Paloma, played by Ana de Armas.
First alluded to by Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright), as his CIA contact in Cuba, Bond gets the chance to meet her in person when he arrives to crash a Spectre gathering. After only seeing brief footage of Paloma throughout the numerous trailers for the film, it’d be easy to assume Ana de Armas would portray the spy as a no-nonsense badass with no time for fun and games. But from the moment we meet her in Cuba, her bubbly persona is a pleasant surprise. She is overflowing with excitement as she eagerly tells Bond it is her “first big mission.” Her enthusiastic energy playing off Bond’s usual cool and reserved demeanor only enhances her personality.
It might appear from de Armas’ glamorous appearance that she is just the new Bond girl for No Time to Die, but Paloma quickly puts such thoughts to rest as she rejects Bond’s advances and hands him a tux instead. Despite her limited screen time, de Armas does monumental work to defy the Bond girl trope through her performance. After reiterating that she is new to the trade, having only three weeks training, Paloma proceeds to mop the floor with a swarm of Spectre agents, looking not even a little shaken or stirred afterward. It’s a note to both viewers and Bond himself that, effervescent personality aside, Paloma is more than capable of holding her own.
A Unique Chemistry
Honing their unique chemistry from Knives Out, Ana de Armas and Daniel Craig prove once again to be the perfect dynamic duo for any genre. While Craig again finds himself in the more experienced, quasi-mentor role in No Time to Die, it becomes apparent that de Armas doesn’t need much help, consistently surprising him with her capabilities and resourcefulness.
In Knives Out, Marta (de Armas) is trying to cover her tracks from Detective Benoit Blanc (Craig) even though she knows she is innocent. This makes for quite the intriguing dynamic as Blanc wants Marta to be his Watson during the investigation. As a result, Marta winds up trying to bury the lede of the very mystery she is helping Blanc to solve. During this investigation we see the same flare of resourcefulness and quick-thinking that Paloma demonstrates when she captures Valdo Obruchev (David Dencik) by ramming a car into the wooden platform he is on, collapsing it and securing Obruchev in the aftermath. Both Bond and Blanc are surprised by de Armas’ character’s actions but impressed nonetheless. This leads to the reclusive, private mentor figure (Bond/Blanc) opening up, little by little, to Paloma/Marta and forming a “bond” if you will.
Different Perspectives of the Same Story
What makes their dynamic so compelling is that we get to see two perspectives of the same story. Through Craig’s eyes, we see the facts and the information as they’re given. Cold and calculating. An older and more experienced viewpoint. From de Armas’ perspective, we see the situation through brighter eyes. An optimistic viewpoint without naïveté that can handle anything thrown her way. Paloma and Marta are great partners to their respective Craig characters because they keep the experienced and occasionally cocky Bond/Blanc humble. While Craig’s characters are certified professionals in their field, they realize a thing or two can be learned from their mentee (Paloma/Marta). It is this revelation that makes for such a strong and genuinely delightful relationship.
It should be reiterated that Paloma isn’t a subordinate or a lover in relation to Bond, she’s an equal. If you comb through the past four Craig Bond films you may notice the female characters fall into either of the two categories and on some occasions, both. Ana de Armas crafts Paloma into a superspy equivalent to Bond. After tackling their designated horde of enemy agents and still amid the swirl of chaos, Paloma and Bond pause for a quick drink. It’s a humorous scene and something you’d only find in a Bond film, but regardless it provides a moment of recognition for the two as they admire the other’s work.
After Paloma and Bond have secured Obrachev and escaped from the Spectre massacre fiasco, Paloma bids Bond farewell and good luck to which he replies with a firm handshake, stating, “You were excellent.” Bond’s respect isn’t easily gained as we have come to know but if anyone is deserving of it, it’s Paloma. As Bond leaves Cuba to continue the mission, one has to wonder what’s next for Paloma. De Armas’ performance as Paloma was so captivating that despite only being in one scene of the nearly three-hour Craig Bond finale, she became a major highlight of the film and a fan-favorite character. De Armas crafted Paloma into something new for the 007 brand. In a world where action movie heroes like James Bond, John Wick, and Jason Bourne reign as box office kings, it’s entirely possible that a star as charismatic as de Armas could ditch the Bond title entirely and guide Paloma into an action franchise of her own.