60 Years of 007: How Stories Can Change
(Spoilers) NO TIME TO DIE is a beautiful and groundbreaking 007 film for many reasons, but for one in particular.
As the finale in what has truly been an epic, five-part story (beginning with 2006’s ‘Casino Royale’), it elevates Bond from the two-dimensional, emotionless superhero of the now super-dated 60s-90s era. Zeroing in on his humanity, it forces him to examine his MO in a world that has passed him by while he was chasing bad guys. The man doesn’t even work for MI6 anymore, but for the CIA. Everything is up for existential renegotiation. Think Austin Powers (a direct parody of Bond), minus the silly.
Best of all (and exactly like Powers), it finally breaks free from its tired and embarrassingly outdated misogyny - and not with lazy tokenism. Rather than simply cave to political correctness, add a bit of pseudo-feminist window dressing, and leave the character and stories otherwise unchanged, it completely revisions Bond as a real-life man who has to re-evaluate everything as husband, father, and agent of change.
Meanwhile, beginning with Judi Dench’s M, the women in these new films aren’t reduced to sexy scientist vixens, helpless victim vixens, and ruthless killer vixens; they are complex, nuanced heroes in their own right, on their own terms, and without needing any help from his truly. Roger Moore’s Bond, this is not.
More profound still, however, we see a relationship of true equals between Bond and Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine in which power, love, vulnerability, and bittersweet victories are achieved together as they traverse the most unpredictable and harrowing landscape of all: parenthood. In a million years, I would never have expected to see this in a Bond film. Or that I would like it this much.
As the longest running franchise in history, and centred as it is around testosterone-fuelled espionage, it’s bound to have required some upgrades along the way. There were many years I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to pull it off. So as a huge fan of the books and movies for decades, it’s been exciting to watch the last five films, and especially this one.
Well, this and Skyfall. 😉