The following article contains Spectre spoilers.
Spectre was meant to be revolutionary, a new step that expanded on the risky Skyfall, but instead James Bond gave us a rundown of his greatest moments and we were saddled with both the good and the bad of the franchise.
As he was preparing to fire another blockbuster towards the multiplexes from his famed Walther PPK, Culturefly published a feature on how a feminist sees 007. Now, as Spectre is about to be released on home entertainment, Lauren Collins is back, ruminating on how the famous hard-drinking, commitment-shy spy is still relevant in 2016.
“Why change something that’s so good? If you changed it, it wouldn’t be Bond anymore,” argues Lauren over a vodka and lemonade. “If you turned him round into a committed, non-drinking spy — who would go and watch that? Who would go and watch a politically-correct spy? I think people like him because he’s a bit dangerous, a bit naughty.
“Okay, so back 54 years ago, he was an acceptable character, right? So I don’t see why his character should change because our times have changed. Just look at how popular it is now. You can not change the character at the end of the franchise because then it’s not the franchise it started off as.”
Bond may still be the same character, but the way the world reacts to his antics is different. In an interview with Esquire, Mr 007 himself, Daniel Craig, admitted that belaying Bond’s sexist attitude is important to the filmmakers and that the way to do it is to “cast great actresses” and make the roles “as good as you can”.
Spectre fulfilled the great actress quota – Monica Bellucci, Léa Seydoux and Naomi Harris – but did it fulfill the good roles one?
“I don’t think so. I can’t even remember what she was like, but I can remember what he was like,” says Lauren, speaking about Dr. Madeleine Swann (Seydoux). “She was blonde, was she blonde? I couldn’t tell you what her personality was like. I remember that mirror scene, though.”
Probably one of the most controversial scenes in Spectre is when Bond breaks into Lucia Sciarra’s (Bellucci) house and forcibly seduces her. It once again shows Bond’s murky version of sexual consent but as Lauren argues, “it was hot”.
“It is because he takes control. They get really close and you’re egging him on. It is sort of like you’re anticipating it. You’re like: ‘Come on Bond, just take her.’
“It’s such a good scene because of the way they do it. The best bit of a kiss is the moment before you kiss, and they [the filmmakers] did it really well. You’re just like: ‘Do it, Bond. Do it.’”
Bond has always had a way with women, but in his 24th adventure, director Sam Mendes tried something different and had a woman have her way with Bond. Only four women – Tracy Bond (Diana Rigg), Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), M (Judy Dench) and Madeleine Swann – have stripped Bond of his misogynistic armour, and three of those women died. At the end of the film, Bond climbs into his DB5 and drives off into the sunset with Madeleine in the passenger seat. Of all the familiarity in Spectre, this felt like the revolutionary moment Mendes had hinted at.
“It was weird how he fell for her after a short amount of time,” says Lauren, angry at the underdeveloped relationship. “I found her, as a character, quite boring for a Bond Girl. I found it quite weird that he fell for her. She is intelligent and stuff and she helped defeat Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista), but I did not like her as a character.
“I just remember coming out of the cinema thinking: ‘He settled for her?’ When he walked off and left the guy on the bridge (Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld), I was a bit gutted he gave it all up for a relationship. That’s not Bond.”
Casting Monica Bellucci gave Bond a relationship with a woman who was the same age as him and hinted at a progressive quality that was missing from the final cut.
“If you take her age into consideration, that’s a good thing. They’re not just using young girls anymore. But, I just watch the movie and I think with Bond, it is always going to have that bit of sexism when it comes to women and I don’t think it’s ever going to change.”
Craig’s stint as Bond has provided better roles for women, but maybe the sexism is too ingrained into 007 and achieving fully-fleshed female characters is a mission even Bond would fail.