Nothing can beat James Bond: not his villains, not the femme fatales, not the changing culture.
He was a cinematic superhero before Batman, Superman, and the entire MCU, and has more movies than all of them. I used to love Bond movies when I was a child – the Sean Connery movies and the Pierce Brosnan movies were my favorites,mainly due to the spirited debates myself, my brother and my Granda would have about who was the best (Brosnan, obviously).
Most of the bad stuff, particularly the predatory stuff rife in the Connery movies, went right over my head. I understood that Bond was a male power fantasy: -women wanted him and men wanted to be him – but as I’ve gotten older, the rot has made itself known. The most surprising thing about this was that it wasn’t the older movies that I re-evaluated, I just watched the Daniel Craig ones, instead. When even your star is calling your hero a raging misogynist, maybe it’s time for a rethink, you know?
Which brings us to his swansong, and the second trailer for No Time to Die. I’m not impressed and I’m not surprised. As an action franchise in the 21st Century, Bond has finally shown himself to be out of date. The continued improvements of the Mission Impossible franchise and the mere existence of John Wick makes this new trailer look lame. The action is serviceable but rarely exciting, Ana De Armas is sexy (what a surprise!) but tropey as fuck, Bloefeld is in it and as boring as last time, and the other 00 agent looks…fine, I guess. The only real ray of light is Rami Malek, as a stock villain that this franchise could write in its sleep:
Vaguely European: Check
Disfigurement of Some Kind: Check
Played by an Actor who is Miles Better than the Material: CHECK!
Then there is Bond himself. I like Daniel Craig a lot, but he is an awful Bond. He is a vacuum at the center of this franchise with neither the wit nor the charisma to make this iteration work. If I had never heard of Daniel Craig and based my opinion on his acting talent on this one role, then I would be furious that such a dud could lead a billion dollar franchise. Good thing Knives Out is so fresh in our memory to remind us that, yes, divested of the repressive Bond monkey suits, he’s actually brilliant.
Bond will never die, not as long as his negative qualities are still viewed as the suave and heroic epitome of masculinity in cinema. But the series is looking a bit decrepit when I would rather watch Keanu Reeves avenging a dog.
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By Kevin Boyle
Header Image: Empire Online