I recently saw the latest Bond installment, ‘Spectre’…and I’m a bit conflicted on how I feel about the move–especially the ending. (Fair warning for those who have yet to see it, this post is both a movie spoiler and a bit of a rant on how this Bond girl should have been portrayed). I feel like there were conflicting thematic endings. One where we acknowledge the fact that the M16 agent program is better off using humans (not high tech machines) who are better equipped at calculating and weighing the factors of whether to kill or not to kill. The other where Bond goes against his character in favor of what looks like personal pursuits.
I felt Bond was not being true to the Bond character in the final moments of the film when he’s standing over the villain, Oberhauser, who taunts, “finish it.” And he doesn’t do it. He doesn’t finish off the villain (seriously!? that’s a top action movie rule: always finish the job). Unless there’s a squeal. Then you let the bad guy live.
So James Bond doesn’t finish the job. Instead Bond says “I’m all out of bullets. And…” glancing at the beautiful blonde nearby, “I’ve got better things to do.” It doesn’t make sense! Was his decision more to do with the humanistic aspect of being an assassin and choosing not to kill or the fact that Bond now had legitimate romantic aspirations? I found myself thinking this is maddening and uncharacteristic.
I suppose too that since this was the last installment of this particular Bond franchise, the writer/director would be looking to essentially package things up for the audience. While I agree having Bond shoot Oberhauser in the head would be pretty brutal (even for this film), sometimes, the good guys have to do bad things to make the bad guys pay (seriously, that scene with the small drill had me on the edge of my seat!). If it were up to me, I would have ended the movie this way:
Have it your way. (shoots him)
(But we keep the camera on Bond, see him fire and hear a loud BANG)
James, you didn’t have to kill him…
Yes, I did. Because now I’m all out of bullets and I have better things to do.
I’m all for Bond choosing the girl over the gun, but I didn’t like how the writing made it seem like he was choosing between being who he is and who he wants to be. His love interest Madeleine Swann even walks away from him at one point saying she can’t be with him because, “…it’s who you are.” Clearly, Swann recognizes he’s not the type of man for her because maybe his lifestyle as an assassin is not something she wants to become involved in (good job, sweetheart!).
When she walked away I thought, “OK, good. She respects him enough to walk away so that he can get on with being a bad ass assassin.” But I fond myself frustrated minutes later after the climactic scene where Bond saves her, that they end up together. She didn’t stick to her standard and neither did he–especially tossing his gun into the river.
What?! He tosses his gun away just like that and strides over to take her in his arms?
I don’t feel Bond should have gone against his character in order to be with the woman he (supposedly now) loves. (His only real choice out of all the Bond girls before should have been taking care not to end up with a crazy one). In my opinion, if this Bond girl were really right for James, she would appreciate him for the cunning (and handsome) assassin that he is and support him in being that.
Which is why I wish this Bond girl had more to offer. This leading lady is apparently a psychologist working at a private medical clinic in the Austrian Alps (with an amazing office that has an incredible view). Ironically, Swann is the daughter of an assassin (Bond’s old nemesis Mr White) which means she gets him in a way most women do not. But the chemistry only spiked after the action sequences and Swann didn’t fit the bill for the type of “partner in crime” that would actually compliment someone like Bond. Her psychology prowess never actually lent itself to the story line, she was afraid to handle a gun (yet she knew her way around one), and she got stuck with random one-liners like “what shall we do now?” followed by a smash cut to Bond and Swann making out.
I just wish her character had been written as more complimentary to that of James Bond. Thankfully, though, she nailed it bringing her own sense of swagger in the gowns she appeared in.
Once I have an extra $600.00 I’ll be sure to pick up this little number on eBay.
In spite of the ending, ‘Spectre’ is still a great ride and everything you’d expect from a flashy Bond film. Maybe Bond girls aren’t meant to be bad-asses like James Bond himself. I suppose I’ll just have to wait for a heroine when the Hunger Games Mockingjay part 2 is due out later this month.
More on the film’s gadgets, guns and gowns highlighted in this Bloomberg Business article.