Monday, July 23The Voice of London

Why Do We Love James Bond?

At this point there are twenty-four James Bond movies. Their budgets get bigger, and so does their box office. All together, over the past 53 years, James Bond has made over eleven billion dollars, not including the latest Spectre.

Words: Ali Mulaga, Subeditor: Jason John

Source: Tumblr

Not only was their budget that equivalent of 11 billion McChickens or 11 fighter jets, it’s just an enormous amount of money for your average action film franchise to make. Die Hard, for one, is just off the 1.5 billion mark. Granted there are only five films, but Bond’s least lucrative films raked in the same amount of money as Die Hard’s best.

Other than Sherlock Holmes, James Bond is perhaps one of the most famous and loved fictional characters of British history. The two certainly share similar traits: extraordinary, cleverness, wealth, notoriety, and a lone wolf mentality.

Oscar Wilde once wrote “The books the world call immoral show the world its own shame.” Meaning our wrongdoing is our faults that we must live with and remember. That shows the world has its own ideal of a moral person that we all like. And James Bond, though you could say he drinks a lot, very materialised person and a womanizer, he is  still a likeable character. 

Bond is suave, he’s under stress but not stressed, and stoic without being completely sociopathic. It’s a more character driven story than plot, and the particular draw to this character is that he is the best at what he does. He does it well and even though he’s still part of the system he knows exactly how to go around it to do what he thinks is best.

The movies are predictable, but entertaining. I anticipated pretty much everything that happened in Spectre, yet there was still something that made me willing to sit through all two hours and thirty minutes of it.

The film starts on the Day of the Dead with Bond (Daniel Craig) in Mexico City strolling around with a girl on his arm. Then he leaves her, chases someone, and ends up in a spinning helicopter fighting for his life. He, of course, comes out relatively unscathed, and to top it off, saves the parade from the helicopter disaster he inadvertently  caused. This would be a spoiler alert, except in the first ten minutes, death is surely not an option for Bond.

Critics for Spectre have been tough, with 63% satisfaction on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s not too bad of a rating, but after Skyfall’s 93%, evidently there was much to be desired. Ex-Bond actor Pierce Brosnan said that “the story was kind of weak” and he’s right. Were Spectre not redeemed by being a James Bond film would it have gotten that great of a rating?

Plot aside, the acting was on point, as was the entire visual aspect. In a nutshell: were you watching this in a different language, or on mute, nothing important of the film would be lost in translation.

In Bond’s defence, with 24 films out, some are bound to have a superior narrative to others. Because he’s such an icon, because he’s ‘Bond, James Bond’, it’s a rare occasion where the character is the movie, and not just in it.

James Bond is not just a famous character, he’s an old character model. His legacy has enriched and grown, and a lot has changed within that time, including 007 himself. As the series progressed, so did societal norms which reflect in the films itself. It’s been pointed out that the early Bond films show the hero as an ‘unashamedly sexist’, but as misogyny for the most part is leaving society, so is it with Bond. That being said, Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) was made out to be some sort of bad-ass in the trailers, and in the next scene she was playing damsel in distress. I guess will still have wait a long time till we make female character in a Bond film to show a little independence.  

James Cork, author of James Bond: The Legacy  said the franchise ‘created Bond in each generation’s image’ which makes him immortal on top of all his other qualities. It’s no wonder he’s so idolized, they adapted him so every generation would love him no matter his faults.

James bond is one of the most notorious characters in British history, if not the most. So why? Because he’s the best at what he does. His enigma is not exactly how or why he does these things, it’s that he’s perfected in doing them. He lives his life unorthodox, but it works out better than all of ours. It’s something we all aim towards.