Has James Bond become an antiquated figure? An old, jumped up example of the type of thinking from the 60s? Maybe, but that isn’t a bad thing for Bond fans.
It’s strange that when Sean Connery first stepped into polished shoes with his Walther PPK, cigarettes and devil-may-care attitude he was seen as the epitome of what made a man. He was bold, decisive, dominant, charismatic and irresistible to women.
However the world has moved on from the ’60s. This guy no longer exists, and if he does, he doesn’t fit in. Aspirations nowadays include getting through life whilst dealing with the scars you pick up along the way – not ignoring them, facing up to them or battling them off. It’s recognised that it takes a real man not to pick a fight, but to evade it and take the high ground. A real man accepts the limitations and strengths of other people and works out how to get on with them, use them and forge friendships in this harsh world.
Being Bond wouldn’t get you very far these days.
It would leave you lonely, bitter, friendless and in all honesty not very good at achieving anything. Daniel Craig’s Bond actually touches on this loneliness and warped sense of self, especially in Skyfall where the psychologist declares him unfit for duty, looking shocked at his witty but damaged responses to the questions asked of him. Would it be better to see a secret agent that did his job well, with the sophistication and style of a Brit, but in a way that resembles a more realistic approach?
The short answer is no. I mean, Bond as a character has always been this way and it would be wrong to change him from this sexist, misogynistic dinosaur (thank you Judi Dench). Where the new films succeed is recognising Bond’s failures and working with them. No longer is Bond the cool, poker winning chap, pulling the ladies with ease and succeeding at every turn. In the latest films he’s a failure – he’s not even a great secret agent. He’s remained the very same character that Sean Connery played, but exposed to modern perceptions. And it’s brilliant. Showing the flaws of a tough, lonely b*stard just doing his job (badly) is incredibly entertaining.
Being Bond doesn’t get him very far, as it shouldn’t, but it bloody well makes for a good movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed three of the last four Bond films with this approach.
I want him to become grittier, more damaged, more real and for the perception of this damaged soul to continue. He’s not a visionary, and I would argue kids wouldn’t want to become Bond anymore, but they are enthralled by him still.
Daniel Craig has done a masterful job of positioning Bond in the current times and making him relevant, strangely enough through being the redundant, unworkable man that he is. I hope that be it Tom Hardy, Idris Elba or whoever will take the reigns next will develop this further away from Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan performances and keep the grittiness of Craig.
Someone get this guy a Martini; he’s an alcoholic, moody, insufferable old man, but I am entertained by him.