Spectre, the new James Bond film will soon be imposed upon us. On 6th November we’ll be subjected to yet another shaken and stirred mess of misogyny and sexism. But before that cinematic delight let’s recap James Bond in the time of Daniel Craig, a time of strong female protagonists, normalised diversity and astute political observation – actually no, none of that.
Things got off to a goodish start (bearing in mind this is James Bond) with Casino Royale – Bond lost the silly gadgets and the objecitfying intro credits but unfortunately kept everything else, namely the sexism. Eva Green plays Vesper Lynd – a female character who is simultaneously seductress and victim (the two going roles for most women in Bond films). Bond falls in love with her (y’know to show his human side) but soon finds out she’s been double-crossing him from the start, naturally she dies (she drowned in a lift). Meanwhile, Caterina Murino does her duty as ‘second Bond woman’ – she sleeps with him, reveals some useful info and then gets strangled in a hammock. Meanwhile, there’s a load of tedious stuff to do with “high stakes” poker games, defibrillators and wicker chairs.
Onto Quantum of Solace and things were looking up. Olga Kurylenko plays Camille Mentes, a strong female character able to match Bond in terms of sleuthing and fighting ability. Furthermore, her romance with Bond consists only of a goodbye kiss. Of course, all the fighting at the end gets too much for her and she needs some rescuing. Things are much worse for Gemma Arterton’s character Strawberry Fields (reminiscent of Pussy Galore and Titty Bonanza) who goes all the way with Bond and gets drowned in crude oil as a consequence. Judi Dench does her usual bossy, mother type thing as Bond’s boss M. In terms of plot there’s some progress: it’s curiously politically relevant – the main baddy is instigating land grabs in Bolivia in order to monopolise a scarce natural resource, fresh water, whilst funding political instability in the country. This actually happens in real life. Oh, but the ridiculous opening credits make a reappearance – this time naked women in sand dunes.
Then Skyfall. It saw where the franchise could be going – slightly better roles for women and politically relevant plots – and then enforced a U-turn, taking Bond back to the 70s. With regards the portrayal of women – firstly, it’s questionable whether the female lead played by Bérénice Marlohe actually consents to the sex she has with Bond in the ‘shower scene’. Of course, that doesn’t bother Bond and minutes later she’s bound and gagged and shot in the head by the arch-villain. Naomie Harris’ character, who accidentally shot Bond off a bridge in the opening sequence, ends the film by quitting her job as a field agent and settling down to become the secretary aka Moneypenny. Judi Dench’s M gets shot in the back and replaced by Volderment…Ralph Fiennes. Oh and Ben Whishaw’s Q provides a whole load of pointless gadgets. This whole film was basically Sam Mendes giving the finger to equality because he’s a rich, white man in power who can.
What now for Spectre? Not a lot really. There’s some excitement that Monica Belluci is in it, the oldest Bond woman at 50! But she plays the widow of a spy James Bond kills, so it’s likely that Bond will sleep with her and then kill her, or she’ll get killed by one of the baddies. Léa Seydoux plays the other Bond woman. She’s 30, so will probably survive until the end. Meanwhile, Bond’s up to some mischief in Mexico City at the start of the film telling the all new, white, male M that he was “taking some overdue holiday” – well, I think it’s high time James Bond take some overdue holiday from our cinema screens…forever. Here’s the trailer – guess which plot device hasn’t already been used in a Bond film? Oh, none of them.