You might love James Bond films for the exotic locales, absurd villains, fun gadgets, and excellent action. You might also loathe James Bond films for the sexual content, general misogyny, uneven plotting, and the very existence of Die Another Day. Regardless, Bond is a thing, and after a six-year hiatus, Daniel Craig’s final outing as the super agent, No Time To Die, is finally hitting theaters. And it has a quick reference to Latter-day Saints!
Reviewer Kim Newman of the British Film Institute, insists the screenplay for No Time To Die was deliberately punched up to make Bond more culturally aware, and that awareness apparently stems from the Book of Mormon:
Not content with paraphrasing the ‘we’re not so different, you and I, Mr Bond’ cliché, Remi Malek’s undercooked villain then spends five minutes listing their points of similarity but still making less headway than Dr No did with that gambit in 1962. A whole team of screenwriters (including Phoebe Waller-Bridge) come up with no punchlines to compare with No’s ‘I see you are just a stupid policeman’, though Bond dismissing a serpent-smiling ‘political appointee’ CIA agent (Billy Magnusson) as ‘Book of Mormon’ suggests the agent has broadened his cultural references since the days he insisted ‘listening to the Beatles without earmuffs’ was a faux pas akin to red wine with fish.
If you don’t get the earmuffs reference, it’s from Goldfinger, and fans have had lengthy debates about whether Bond is referring to actual earmuffs — to muffle the music — or headphones —to better appreciate it.
But as you can see, Bond calls a CIA agent “Book of Mormon,” and it is clearly meant with derision. The line apparently plays into two things associated with Latter-day Saints: 1) members of the Church being squeaky clean and overrepresented in the federal government, particularly spying and national security agencies; 2) a ten-years-too-late reference to the Book of Mormon Musical.
It’s a small reference, of course, but Latter-day Saints who see the film will undoubtedly leave the theater enthusiastically saying, “Kaydyn, can you believe he said ‘Book of Mormon’ in the movie?! So cool! It’s like Bond knows us!” “It’s true, Ezra. We’ll have to tell Madisyn.”
There will be others who will be upset about the “Mormon” reference in the first place. Is EON Productions irresponsible? (Also, why is “is” not capitalized in the title of the linked article? It’s a verb! You’re using title case! Capitalize verbs!) We can give the production team a slight pass since No Time To Die was filmed in spring 2019, even though that was after President Nelson started our lustration campaign against “Mormon.”
In all seriousness, while the stereotype of Latter-day Saints as spies and government folks might ring partially true — there are, indeed, many members of our faith in the U.S. government — there is also a risk of propagating that stereotype and causing misunderstanding abroad. Anecdotally, there are surely many who have served missions or traveled abroad and met locals who assume missionaries are actually American spies (if not Jehovah’s Witnesses). Such concerns have indirectly affected missionaries’ ability to be even, well, missionaries in places like Russia.
No Time To Die is rated PG-13 in the United States for sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, brief strong language (i.e. an f-bomb, most likely – and confirmed by IMDB), and some suggestive material.