I love James Bond movies.
All of them.
I remember Roger Moore as my first James Bond, and my Dad and I would argue the merits of Moore versus Lazenby versus Connery when I was a teenager. But for all Moore’s stiffness, because I saw him first in that role, he remained James Bond for me. My father ranked Lazenby as the ultimate James Bond, with Connery a distant second. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service remains his favorite Bond film of all time.
Timothy Dalton never had a chance, what with them trying to make him the safe sex-y James Bond and stuff. He’s not a bad actor, but with the writers effectively “neutering” him as Bond there was no way.
For years I had wanted to see Pierce Brosnan as Bond, and quite frankly, while I liked him as James Bond I think two things worked against him: A. They waited too long to give him the role, and B. No one could have lived up to the image of Brosnan as Bond that I had created in my head.
But Daniel Craig…
Daniel Craig is my favorite James Bond to date.
And it’s not solely that my first reaction to Daniel Craig is invariably, “I would lick it for hours!”
No, I like the new depth they’ve added to James Bond in the Daniel Craig movies, and it’s a depth I don’t think either Moore or Connery could have pulled off. Possibly, Brosnan could have done it, but he didn’t have the writing that Craig’s had, and would have been too old to believeably pull off some of the emotional responses to the situations in Casino Royale believably.
Plus, I love Judi Dench as M. Love, Love, Love her. I think she and Craig play off that “concern for a wayward son” thing very, very well. I freely admit I love Judi Dench in absolutely everything I’ve ever seen her in. She was spectacular in Mrs. Henderson Presents. Plus, although I’m not entirely sure it’s a bonus, Bob Hoskins goes full monty in one scene.
But, back to Bond. I always kind of wondered, in the past, why the scores of dead women Bond left behind him never seemed to bother him. I like this new Bond where you can tell that it does indeed bother him, and it’s something M uses to prod him every so often, but he’s going to do his job regardless. And if part of that job means he can more easily avenge them, then all the better. Besides, in Quantum of Solace, whose idea was it to send a hot, sexy female agent who wasn’t anything more than a clerk to bring him in, I wonder. And I think in M’s reaction to him after Fields’s death, you see that yes, she shares some of that blame and they both know it.
I enjoyed the character of Camille in QoS, as well, but in the future, in this re-boot of the Bond franchise, I really want Bond to come up against his female equal. And I don’t mean a soul-less female killing machine parody of womanhood like Fleming wrote, I mean his actual equal. Someone who minds leaving a trail of dead men behind her every bit as much as Bond minds the dead girls, but who does her job anyways. I’ve liked most of the female characters in the new Bond films, and I understand their reactions as far as falling apart after killing people for the first time, I mean, most men would/do, too. But I think there’s more than enough room in these movies for a competent, experienced female field agent to give him a run for his money.
Nor do I want one night with him to “undo” her. If there is any “undoing” I want it to be mutual, kind of like his falling in love with Vesper in the first movie. I want a meeting of two finely honed agents who will do whatever it takes, and who recognize that about one another, and have a mutual respect. I could definitely live with any conflict coming to a draw, or an honest victory of one over the other (it would have to be Bond winning, I know. It’s his series. Or not, she could just wound him, a la Molotov Cocktease in Venture Brothers, and disappear. Yes, I know, speaking of parodies).
While the new Bond is definitely superlative to the old, I definitely think there’s room for improvement. The new emotional depth is nice, and the stunts the new technology allows for are magnificent. But I think it’s time we cast off the outdated idea that successful secret agent-ing is merely a Boy’s Club. I think it’s time that Bond met his equal, and recognized that in her.
ETA 2-2-10: Because I was immediately challenged in the comments, I present a list of female villain killing machines from James Bond:
Naomi in The Spy Who Loved Me
Xenia Zirgavna Onatopp in Goldeneye
Giulietta da Vinci (Cigar Girl) in The World is Not Enough
Miranda Frost in Die Another Day
I’m restraining myself to women who actively tried to kill Bond, as opposed to merely being bait. If I added all the sexy, sexy lure women, this list would be far longer. Naomi and Xenia are probably the most true to the “soul-less female killing machine” stereotype, although Miranda Frost is a pretty good representation of that as well.
Just a note, once I got to a running machine, this research took all of about ten minutes.