● What Makes A Good James Bond
Ian Fleming’s James Bond is one of the most iconic characters of all time. He’s known the world over. The reason for this is that Bond is the perfect mix of all the elements we prize in masculinity. He’s suave and confident, the kind of man who dominates a room. . . the kind of man women are drawn too. Yet, at the same time, he’s absolutely ruthless and cold-blooded. . . the kind of man men respect. He’s also hot-blooded and fiercely loyal when it comes to people he’s decided are worthy of his protection, which makes us like him.
This is why it’s so difficult to portray Bond, because any actor doing so must be able to project all three characteristics without coming across like someone in the middle of a multiple personality crisis. This is also why so few actors have been able to play the role well and why some of the men chosen just weren’t right. Roger Moore, for example, started well, but as he got older, his suave shifted into snooty. Also, the humor they gave him made his cold-bloodedness sound snippy. Brosnan, by comparison, was too aloof and you never got the sense he could be hot-blooded and loyal. Plus, they made his character conflicted and tortured which destroyed his confidence. Lazenby lacked gravitas, and Dalton. . . well, he just lacked. So far, only Connery has projected each of these qualities seamlessly and Craig has come close.
● What Makes A Good Bond Girl
Bond girls are a different story. The primary role of the Bond girl is to add a sexual tension to the film and to give Bond a reason to care personally about his fight against the villain. In essence, they need to be someone who triggers Bond’s “white knight” sense while simultaneously proving sexually irresistible to him. But this is trickier than it sounds because to be irresistible, they also need to be quite independent before they meet Bond. This creates a delicate balancing act between fiery independence and damsel in distress, but the best Bond girls pull it off, the worst don’t. . . the worst Bond girls tend to be the ones who just get dropped into the plot like luggage for Bond to carry.
● What Makes A Good Bond Villain
The villains are as important as Bond, or possibly more so. The villains need to be beyond typical bad guys. They need some scheme that is worth the attention of the world’s top spy, and they need to seem capable of pulling it off. They must be intelligent, ruthless, and determined. They must seem ruthlessly insane without crossing the line into just insane. They also need credibility. This is where several villains have left the audience scratching their heads. . . a moonbase huh? Oh, you’re a drug dealer, got it. . . whatever. Villains are key.
Beyond these points, Bond films typically have distinctive henchmen, a plethora of gadgets, a catchy theme song, and a cool title, but none of those things actually make or break a movie, though the invisible car kind of jumped the shark.
By the way, as I ranked the films, I found quite a few surprises. Rather than just rank them in total, I ranked each according to its parts – Bond’s performance, the plot/scheme, the villain quality, and the Bond girl quality. Then I added up the points to get the overall rankings. Interestingly, the new list did not turn out as I would have expected, but in hindsight, I agree completely with the way the list turned out. I guess we’ll find out soon what each of you thinks starting tomorrow when we talk about the worst. . . Bond. . . film. . . ever!