The James Bond series of movies is arguably one of the best action movie series of all time. Seven actors have starred in the titular role over the course of the twenty-six movies which have been released every few years over the past seven decades. The movies are based on the series of sci-fi novels – the first of which, Casino Royale, was published in 1953 – written by Ian Fleming. Rooted in science fiction with a penchant for gadgets aiding the international spy in the height of the Cold War, the movies are decidedly action-centered, changing to reflect movie-goers’ values throughout the years. James Bond has enthralled viewers and sparked the imaginations of many.
Of course, none of this has come without controversy. Since societies’ values have adapted and grown over time, people have looked back on the older movies and noted things which have not aged well. Most prominent is James Bond’s womanizing and mistreatment of women, especially during Sean Connery’s, arguably the most iconic Bond, reign. While some can’t overlook this glaring issue, many more are charmed by his debonair personality, craftiness, and cunning in the face of danger, ultimately saving the day, to notice. Within the Bond fandom, there are many camps, each inspired by the movies in their own ways. One theory is that 007 is an agent number, not an individual person; explaining why many actors, very different looking “Bonds”, have been able to play this character within the same universe, instantly recognized by the same colleagues and villains. This being said, many fans believe anyone should be able to play Bond in the future – man or woman, regardless of race. These fans believe this would not only address Bond’s anti-feminist past, but accurately reflect the people of the United Kingdom.
The cunning required to outsmart the enemy, avoiding death and danger, all while solving a major crisis is the ultimate cool. Bond is also classy. He also gets to play with cool gadgets, fly off to space, and drive an Aston Martin. There are many good Bond flicks, and I often can’t decide on my favorite among Goldeneye, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Moonraker, or even A View to A Kill. Goldeneye is the first Bond movie I ever watched. Pierce Brosnan was the definitive Bond for me. I thought “Nobody does it better”… until I watched The Spy Who Loved Me, and all the other Roger Moore Bond movies. A tall, unassuming, polished, suave man, no one would think was an international spy on sight. Throughout the 70s, Moore’s Bond films were full of luxurious travel to pockets of local culture around the world. Or space. Moore’s Bond got to go to space. His jaw-dropping Lotus sports car transformed into a mini-submarine. While luxury world travel is a staple in every Bond movie, for one reason or another (the gadgets, location settings, characters’ stories, action sequences) the aforementioned titles consistently sit at the top for me, personally.
My personal impression of the Bond character is not a man of brute strength and force, but has a clever mind, is made of steel and determination, and uses it to get out of harrowing situations. However, times have changed, and so have the dangers. James Bond is no longer a spy, a piece in a chess game, against Soviet Russia. He has evolved into an action hero who fights evil entities and organizations hell-bent on global power and destruction. Organizations which amass and harness nuclear, chemical, bio, and even technological weapons. Or some vague threat, which isn’t made entirely clear. While I didn’t like the prospect of Daniel Craig as Bond, believing him to be too thuggish, brute-forcing his way through matters, he still retains the classiness intrinsic to Bond’s character. He is definitely an amazing actor, and a refined man by nature. Having played various characters in his career, I found him more suited to being a henchman. I’ve warmed up to him, but, to me, Bond is more of a thinker, outwitting his enemies, being resourceful rather than forceful. This modern change in Bond could be more of a reflection of modern movie-goers’ preferences, or the writers’, than of Craig’s.
Bond movies are a lasting cultural force. From niche model Lotus cars, to the more popular classic Goldeneye video game, to the superstar singers who gave voice to Bond credit songs, the Bond movies are a constant force in the action genre.
penchant (noun) – a way someone typically likes something or likes to do something
decidedly (adjective) – (used for emphasis) done is a definite way, free of doubt; undeniably
enthrall (verb) – fascinate, charm, hold one’s attention
iconic (adjective) – widely recognized or established
debonair (adjective) – suave, classy, courteous, lighthearted
cunning (adjective) – skilled in doing something by lying or escaping