November 8, 2008

Pussy Galore


I will forgive the earlier Bond movies their sexism. The first movies were before my time and from a different era. The Pierce Brosnan entries into the franchise verged on the cartoon, and are hard to take seriously. The utter ridiculousness of Denise Richards in The World Is Not Enough has the same comedic pedigree as the best Saved By The Bell episodes.

But the latest Bond incarnation, played by Daniel Craig, models itself after the new Batman and Jason Bourne franchises. They are grittier, more realistic action movies, that value story and character as much as glitz and gadgetry. And in some ways, the new version succeeds in that vein. It has done away with Q. Fight scenes look like they were directed by Paul Greengrass. This is a more human Bond, and the movies focus on his psyche and motivations, and how the mental and physical hardships take their toll.

So it is inexcusable the way they treat the female characters in this movie. We are in the 21st century, not the 1960's anymore. I have nothing against populating a genre film like this with beautiful actresses. But at least make an attempt to give them some kind of actual character. I have no idea what the main female protagonist's name was, because her role in the film was nothing more than to give Bond a beautiful sidekick to share in the action. Was she a good actor? I have no idea, because the only acting she had to do was deliver one liners, be frightened of a raging fire, and get angry when the would be dictator attempts to rape her.

Her function in the plot is to want revenge against the would be dictator, while Bond is after the would be oil magnate that is helping the would be dictator to carry out a coup. Nothing we have not seen in countless other Bond films. Why does she want revenge? If you guessed it was because the would be dictator murdered her father in cold blood while she was a child (by burning down their house of course, thus her fear of fire) then you have seen any one of the thousands of other movies that have recycled the exact same plot device.

So her character development is thin, bordering on non-existent. No different then any other Bond movie. At least the wonderful Judi Dench is there, stealing the movie every time she turns up on screen. Of course the weight of her performance, and the nuanced way it builds on her previous appearances in the franchise and adds tremendous depth to a role that really has only a marginal function in the story only draws more attention to the lack of any development in any of the other female characters. But none of this would be unexpected in a movie of this sort.

The real atrocity here, the unpardonable sin committed by this movie, is the climactic showdown between the female protagonist and the would be dictator. It is a brutal scene of sexualized Hollywood violence that happens way too often in movies. The violence is as demoralizing as it is unnecessary. This cardboard cut out of a human being that has done little more in the movie than to provide eye candy for the past hour and a half now must go through the ritualized attempted rape that continually thrusts itself into mainstream Hollywood movies that are generally marketed to young adults around the world. What does that say about the society we live in?

After a few days to reflect on the movie, I realized it was quite poor. Is this really the best they can do?

3 comments:

The Tao said...

They gave Eva Green's character in the last movie TOO MUCH character, and it has haunted me to the day. I think it's only fair they try to balance the scales a bit.

The Good Doctor said...

I imagine you haven't seen the movie yet, since you are in America and it comes out tomorrow. But I just read this article and it corroborates what I am saying: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081113/film_nm/us_bond_girls

'Rolling Stone magazine, in its review, called Camille "perhaps the dullest Bond girl ever."'

The Tao said...

no no, I'm inclined to agree with you. I'm just saying, after the last Bond girl, the American Bond-viewing male needs a break.