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My Beef with Bond

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My Beef with Bond

Anushka Agashe, Staff Writer

I love action movies. There’s something about the explosions and death-defying plots and impossible stunts that just exhilarates me. Real life can be so mundane that sometimes I need the pure, unadulterated fun that only action movies offer. And if I’m being honest, it doesn’t even have to be a good action movie. It simply has to be larger than life, and I’ll be content for hours. And of course, in the action movie genre, there’s nothing quite as timeless or as large than life than James Bond.

You know James Bond. Everyone knows James Bond. Whether it’s, “the name is Bond, James Bond” or “shaken, not stirred,” the film franchise has weathered the test of time.

However, when I first watched the four James Bond movies with Daniel Craig as the title character, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. Would it be all suits and champagne? Witty one-liners and over-the-top explosions? Everyone knows who James Bond is, but would the movies really live up to the pedestal on which they’d been placed?

The only way to find out was to watch all four Daniel Craig movies within a couple of weeks, of course.

My honest opinion? Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre were all very entertaining. I couldn’t find it in my action-loving self to dislike a movie filled with fast cars, beautiful international locations, and a constant stream of well-choreographed fight scenes (I assume the $300 million dollar budgets helped with all of that). I always thought that car chases were overdone and unnecessary, but seeing Daniel Craig race around mountains in luxury cars or through the streets of some European city finally put me in favor of the car chase trope.

It’s been months since I’ve seen the movies; I can still remember the dark, moody shots of an Italian night and the festive havoc surrounding Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Regarding the actual action in the film, I doubt I could say anything that hasn’t already been said. It’s just some good old-fashioned fun. Nevertheless, I found that Bond still left something to be desired, beyond the obvious trappings of any modern blockbuster.

Let’s start with the easy stuff. As with any movie in this genre, plot is sometimes sacrificed in the name of entertainment. Suspension of disbelief is inherent in any movie, especially something as grandiose as James Bond. Still, considering all the resources, writers, and its immense budget, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a plot sound enough to hold up past first inspection.

While a weak plot isn’t something that would turn me off from a film, what did was a serious lack of diversity. The franchise might have started in the 1960s, but there’s no reason for the casting to reflect the attitudes of that distant time. The film is filled with caucasian characters, from lead roles to minor parts, even the inconsequential people in the background.

The worst instance was in Quantum of Solace, which is set in Bolivia. The resident “Bond girl,” Camille Montes Rivero, is a Bolivian woman. Now, Bolivians are people of color. Camille, unfortunately, is not. She’s played by a Ukrainian-French model who could never pass as a person of color without the layers of fake tan she wears in the movie.

This brings me to my other complaint about James Bond: treatment of women. “Bond girl” is a phrase almost as popular as “shaken, not stirred.” The popularity of the phrase already told me that James Bond wouldn’t be a very gender equal movie; that, along with Bond’s reputation as a notorious womanizer, didn’t give me much hope for positive female representation.

The reality was just as bad as I presumed. It seemed that each movie was only allowed to have only one woman in it, that she must enter into a relationship with the main character, and it was absolutely required that she be gorgeous. The relationships themselves were forced, ignoring all chemistry, including a 17 year age difference in one case. Additionally, the women were only there to serve Bond’s purpose – they had very little drive of their own. Worse, if they did, it was lost as soon as Craig came on screen. The overt sexualization of all these women made watching the movies almost uncomfortable.

James Bond is fun. I’m not going to say it’s not. The luxury cars, alluring settings, intense action: it all makes for a thrilling two hours. However, the franchise simply doesn’t live up to today’s expectations of diversity; rather, in terms of representation, it’s regrettably stuck in the sixties.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectre_(2015_film)

http://jamesbond.wikia.com/wiki/Camille_Montes

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