The 12 Best Characters In No Time To Die Ranked

I'm not a huge Bond person. I have a passing knowledge of the lore, and sit somewhere comfortably between a luddite and an aficionado. Not to state the obvious British stereotype, but the more recent Daniel Craig films are a little stoic and dry for me, despite the occasional campy villain turn from loose cannon actors like Mads Mikkelsen and Christof Waltz. 

But pretty much all of the characters in "No Time to Die" won me over. They have the range. They're funny without being quippy. They have lives outside of the world of international espionage, even if we only get glimpses of them. 

I know the future of Bond as a franchise is in flux after this film. Craig won't return, but technically the next Bond film doesn't have to be a hard reboot. This does not have to be the last time that we see these characters on screen. Hopefully it's not, because they are finally starting to get good. Here are the best characters in "No Time to Die," ranked from worst to best (suffice to say, there are major spoilers for "No Time to Die" ahead).

12. M

Is it just me, or is M kind of the worst in this movie? He's not just an annoying bureaucrat and the obstacle standing between Bond and Blofeld, who Bond needs to get answers from. He's practically (though not literally) intertwined with the film's villains. His character doesn't even seem all that bothered by the fact that he commissioned a bioweapon capable of committing mass murder. Even if that wasn't his intent, it must have occurred to the head of MI6, right?

Again, pardon me for reverting to cultural stereotypes, but is this just a British stiff upper-lip thing? Can someone give me emotion? Particularly in the midst of a global pandemic, it was upsetting to see a character we're supposed to like be so blasé about extended families having to quarantine and large swaths of human lives getting wiped out at once.  

Bottom line? I do like that his name is Mallory, but Judi Dench's M was a more welcome presence than Ralph Fiennes in "No Time to Die."

11. Valdo Obruchev

This minor antagonist, a MI6 lackey who helps develop the deadly and programmable nanobots and then leaks them to the villains, initially won me over by making morbid jokes about how easy it would be to kill his coworkers. Obruchev is working on Project Heracles for M, but is secretly in league with Lyutsifer Safin and betrays his team, allowing himself to be kidnapped so he can transfer to Safin's office. Danish actor David Dencik, who you may recognize from "Chernobyl" and "Top of the Lake," does a good job playing the one guy at the office you need to watch out for. 

However, at the end of the film he gets very racist when talking to Nomi, so he's bumped all the way down to the bottom of the list. He also literally bumps all the way down into a pool of the very nanobots he developed when Nomi delivers the title line ("Time to die.") and pushes him to his doom.

10. Madeleine

While Madeleine's tragic backstory, revealed in the opening moments of "No Time to Die" is a good sequence, Madeleine isn't all that interesting to me as a character. Personally, I don't buy the chemistry between her and Bond, but that could be because Léa Seydoux is 17 years Daniel Craig's junior. I'll say it: He looks like her father in Hollywood years, which makes the non-committal reveal that Bond fathered Madeleine's child all the more confounding. 

She's also a pretty passive character. She passively betrays James in Italy. She passively kills Blofeld by touching James' hand, then chickening out and leaving the interrogation room. Her choices and actions just didn't make a lot of sense to me. She lies about her child's paternity for seemingly no reason other than to delay the reveal until later in the film. Similarly, she fails to recognize a man who she shares a traumatic history with just so it can be revealed later in the scene. 

Madeleine isn't helpless. She makes a proactive attempt to protect her mother in the flashback before ultimately failing. At the end of the film, despite getting kidnapped by the Big Bad, she is not a total damsel in distress. However, I just couldn't bring myself to care enough to root for her, which made the ending of the film a major bummer!

9. Moneypenny

My only problem with Moneypenny is that there wasn't enough of her! When done well and not reduced to a sexy secretary stereotype, I'm a sucker for Bond and Moneypenny's banter. While M is frustrating in "No Time To Die," the relaxed vibe of this office is almost enviable. They're all very calm, cool, collected, and relaxed around each other. I've never thought about M, Q, and Moneypenny going for a pint at the pub after work, but after seeing them toast at the end of this film, now I kind of wish we'd gotten to see that as well. (Tanner can come too.)

Since the rules of the franchise aren't as well-defined as other cinematic universes, there's nothing stopping Naomie Harris from returning as Moneypenny, and I really hope she does! I'm also really interested in the working relationship she has with Nomi. Seems like the banter potential is high there.

8. Blofeld

Remember how much fun Christoph Waltz was in "Spectre?" He was one of the best characters — if not the best — in that movie, but that alone is not enough to make him a good character in "No Time to Die." 

Waltz's brief physical appearance as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the latest Bond film is memorable but not nearly as fun. It's too brief. It's confined to a very small space. I laughed out loud when his little cage took its sweet and threatening time rolling down that hallway towards Bond, but a top moment does not a top character make. Some villains do their most captivating work in captivity — Hannibal Lector, the Joker, and Loki, for example — but Blofeld is not one of them.  

However, at one point in "No Time to Die" Blofeld does talk through a bionic eyeball that someone is carrying around a Spectre party on a little plate. That's very goofy and very good.

7. Lyutsifer Safin

The film's actual villain was initially pretty boring to me. While I do appreciate that he wears a "Phantom of the Opera" mask, his obsession with killing children did not win me over. I'm also pretty bored of villains who kidnap female love interests in order to motivate the hero. Get a new move, bad guys. It's been done.

However, as "No Time to Die" goes on, Safrin is revealed to be a campier character than I expected — and I liked that! My first real exposure to Bond villains was through parodies like "Austin Powers" and "Johnny English." This felt like a return to the bad guys that those films were spoofing.

I considered ranking Safrin below Blofeld as a form of protest. The odds are stacked against him, since Blofeld is basically the Moriarty to Bond's Sherlock Holmes in Ian Fleming's novels and is the actual inspiration for Dr. Evil. But then, I remembered that Safrin has a lair. That's cool. Lairs are cool. Ten points for having a lair.

6. Logan Ash

Billy Magnussen played Logan Ash as a chaotic himbo with a heel turn and it was honestly a revelation. Talk about campy villains! He has a face that's somehow both punchable and lovable. If you enjoyed watching Magnussen being sinister in "No Time to Die," I highly recommend the HBO Max series "Made for Love." 

He's entertaining when he's posing as Felix's over-eager CIA buddy, and he's entertaining as one of Safrin's ruthless lackeys. Every time he was on screen, I was delighted to see him. Going into "No Time to Die," I expected a lighter tone because Phoebe Waller-Bridge's punch-up was well publicized, but I don't think I expected any of the characters to be as buoyant and silly as Logan. 

He was easily my favorite antagonist. Like Moneypenny, I just wish we'd gotten to see more of him. But it would be rude to rank Logan above the character that he betrays, who is, of course...

5. Felix Leiter

You know how sometimes you're watching a television series and you just know that a character is about to die because they're finally getting the backstory and/or character-building you've always wanted for them? That's how I felt when Felix showed up in this movie. I know from cultural osmosis that Felix Leiter is James Bond's American BFF, so I was happy to see them bro together, even if it was for the last time. 

It doesn't hurt that Jeffrey Wright has chemistry with everybody. Even though a lot of their friendship happened off-screen during Daniel Craig's run, I believed it when he said that Felix was like a brother to him. They really made it work. While this is Wright's final performance as Felix, the actor has recently been in almost as many projects as Timothée Chalamet. You can also catch him in "The French Dispatch," on Disney+ as the narrator of "What If" and, in March 2022, as Commissioner Gordon in "The Batman."

4. Nomi

I didn't always understand the rivalry between Bond and Nomi, MI6's new 007. Was there one? It seemed at times that Nomi was anticipating more pushback from Bond than she was receiving. He seemed pretty chill about being retired. That said, I like Lashanna Lynch and I loved this character. I like how she works as a spy. She's similar to Bond at times and different at others, because they are two very different characters who approach their job in different ways. I like how she's as bossy and arrogant as any agent who has been given double-0 status deserves to be. 

Honestly, the fact that she expected Bond to be offended by her replacing him, and then had to adjust when her expectations were not met, added a complicated and fun little layer to her character in this film. I would definitely watch a spin-off with her as the lead, if that's the type of multiversal route these films are leading us down.

3. James Bond

Bond would be the best character in his own movie, but (remember that spoiler warning) besides the fact that Craig seems done with the character, I don't fully understand why he had to die. So, he gets infected with nanobots that will kill Madeleine and Mathilde if he ever touches them. So what? First of all, he has a watch that, theoretically, should be able to disable those nanobots — but Q said it couldn't, so I guess we have to take his word for it. 

Second of all, we're all living through a pandemic that has made touching other humans dangerous. What makes Bond so special? I went six months without so much as a hug or even grazing another person's hand. It was difficult and depressing, but I made it out the other side. What I'm trying to say is that I am stronger than James Bond. The fact that he made the choice to sacrifice himself cost him a few points in my book.

2. Q

We learn more about Q's home life than pretty much anyone else's in "No Time To Die," with the possible exception of Madeleine. It's so cool to see someone in an action movie take a moment to cook a meal. Ever since seeing "No Time to Die," I have also been preoccupied with the moment when M tells Bond that everyone knows he's "staying with" Q. It's incredible to think about James Bond crashing at someone's place. Does he sleep on the couch? Does Q have a guest room that Bond can use? Does he get up earlier than Q and putter around? 

Q also had, in my humble opinion, the most emotional and touching reaction to Bond's death. Perhaps that is just a credit to Ben Whishaw as an actor, but it really felt like the completion of an arc that started in "Skyfall."

1. Paloma

Ana de Armas may only have a handful of scenes in "No Time to Die," but she was a lightning bolt of energy and charm. Paloma may be my favorite character of 2021, especially the way that she bounded into the scene, proudly told Bond that this was her first assignment after only three weeks of training, and still managed to nail it. 

In a lesser film, this role would be played by a nerdy, eager, younger guy. The Robin to Bond's Batman, so to speak. But the fact that this character is female adds more variety to an already diverse cast. There isn't just one kind of Bond Girl in "No Time to Die," there are several. Some you love, and some you hate. 

I haven't taken a recent poll of half of the population or anything, but I believe that this is what we want: not for any one female character to fit some magical formula that somehow satisfies every demand for representation, but for there to be so many varied female characters that no one character has to be everything for everybody.