Twenty-four James Bond films and apart from the villains who bleed tears have muscle-wrenching metallic prosthetic hands or steel teeth, the most debatable and often controversial are the Bond girls. From having double entendre names and wildly fancy-pants behavior, these women have come a long way.
The evolution has been staggering since Craig’s debut as Bond. And in this case, let’s have a look at the Bond girls starting with Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd in ‘Casino Royale’. She wasn’t an arm candy and absolutely refused to be one. Olga Kurylenko followed suit in ‘Quantum of Solace’ — Tough, gritty and she could fight dirty. French actress Bérénice Marlohe as Severine in ‘Skyfall’ was something of an enigma.
However, it was back to a square one in ‘Spectre’ with Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux pretty much resigned to their roles. While the latter did have what most would dub “a fighting spirit”, it didn’t make the same hard-hitting impact the previous films did.
Perhaps the biggest change was Eve Moneypenny. The reliable secretary at the MI6 had a major change in her character arc with Naomie Harris essaying the role. And Moneypenny was sheer badassery. The transformation also showed the franchise was headed in the right direction. None of the female leads were just out there to be Bond’s sexual fantasies.
Shifting the focus back to Vesper Lynd, a character that Green brought to life with that immense acting prowess, there was a sense of intrigue. This was a woman alien to Bond’s world. It was surprising considering she was a double agent herself, and while the movie ends with her death and also gives an explanation as to why 007 doesn’t let women get close. Vesper’s betrayal in the film was a classic example.
Lending more depth to her character was the whole Yusef-Quantum storyline. It was revealed she was manipulated right from the start, which put the whole double-agent role in motion. Again, she fell in love and that brought out the innocent side of the character. But in the amount of screentime she gets, she firmly cements the fact that she’s a Bond girl who could hold her own rather than play the damsel-in-distress role.
Pity though, that after Green, Kurylenko and Harris, there’s a slide in ‘Spectre’. In Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch, there’s enough promise from ‘No Time to Die’ that the duo is more than just sexy sirens who could scorch the screen with their hotness.
One of the earlier hints that ‘No Time to Die’ had rectified this error was when it introduced Lynch as “the new 007”. Jaw-dropping and audacious as it was, not many saw this coming and that wasn’t all. They had Armas who plays a CIA agent whom Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) assigns to Bond in order to assist him with the mission. So it’s no more of the bonding over wine and bedding as Bond has a member of the opposite sex kicking ass with him.
For now, let’s hope the 25th James Bond film maintains the elements that made their reboot thoroughly enjoyable, especially when it comes to the characterization of the Bond girls.
‘No Time to Die’ releases on April 2 in the UK and April 8 in the US.