James Bond isn't what he used to be.
And that's intentional.
In fact, the director of 2021 Bond installment Time to Die has a pretty scathing critique of 1965's iteration of the spy.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Cary Fukunaga — known for his work on HBO hit True Detective and 2018 Netflix miniseries Maniac — recalled Sean Connery in Thunderball.
To hear Cary tell it, that Bond was a creep.
“Is it Thunderball or Goldfinger where, like, basically Sean Connery's character rapes a woman? She's like ‘No, no, no,' and he's like, ‘Yes, yes, yes.' That wouldn't fly today.”
As for not flying, he's probably right.
Regarding rape, you be the judge:
Here's Goldfinger's instance of resistance overcome:
Don't expect anything of the sort from Time to Die.
Might another title be “The Woke is Not Enough?”
Cary says No:
At Fukunaga's suggestion, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was brought in to work on the draft he wrote with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have worked on every Bond film since 1999's The World Is Not Enough. The perception was that the Fleabag creator was used, post-reckoning, to make Bond more woke. But Fukunaga dismisses that idea.
However, Cary's committed to “doing the work”:
“I think that's the expectation, a female writing very strong female roles, but that's something [producer and franchise controller Barbara Broccoli] wanted already. From my very first conversations with [her], that was a very strong drive. You can't change Bond overnight into a different person. But you can definitely change the world around him and the way he has to function in that world. It's a story about a white man as a spy in this world, but you have to be willing to lean in and do the work to make the female characters more than just contrivances.”
#JamesBond producer and Barbara Broccoli says it’s time 007 reflected a more gender equitable sensibility: "I think people are coming around — with some kicking and screaming — to accepting that stuff is no longer acceptable. Thank goodness" https://t.co/HbgLtvQ3sj
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 22, 2021
Action movies are undoubtedly evolving.
While the women get tougher, the men…don't.
Consider my 2019 offering, “Action Star Promises His Upcoming Movie Will ‘Constantly' Address Toxic Masculinity.”
At the time, Stuber star Dave Bautista put it thusly:
“Throughout the film, we're constantly talking about [toxic masculinity]. Sometimes you don't realize it because we're making you laugh or disguising it with action, but we really do have the discussion throughout the film.”
Co-star Betty Gilpin framed it as follows:
“[The film] trojan-horses a woke narrative in it. … It still checks all of the boxes of a classic action movie, but it has this secret thread of men talking about their aggression and anger that are no longer helpful or are standing in their way. I think that's such an important missing piece that we have right now of men joining the dialogue, and I think (co-star) Kumail Nanjiani as a person has really stepped up vocally to talk about what men need to change and talk about. And honestly, it's very sexy.”
Back to Time to Die, actress Lashana Lynch — who plays a fellow agent — championed the movie's “equity”.
She wasn't stuck being bested by the pale patriarchy:
“Cary had big discussions with Barbara and Daniel about how to give the female characters equity, how to keep them in charge of themselves, how to give them solo moments where the audience learns who they are,” she says. “It was really important to empower the female characters as stand-alones. And I think that he kept that in mind throughout the whole shoot. I didn't feel like Nomi, as a young Black woman, was constantly standing behind the white guy, which, for me, is job done. And that was a very conscious decision for Cary.”
Meanwhile, Bond producer Barbara is blessed:
“I think people are coming around…to accepting that stuff is no longer acceptable. Thank goodness. Bond is a character who was written in 1952 and the first film…came out in 1962. He's got a long history, and the history of the past is very different to the way he is being portrayed now.”
So he won't be the spy of yore; but hopefully, he's still be something sensational.
Will you be seeing the new film? I will.
For any old-schoolers who fear the franchise has gone too furiously feminine, there's at least one person involved who's drawing a line:
— New York Post (@nypost) September 21, 2021
And for those of you who doubt the world has changed, here's a bit of old Hollywood:
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