Friday, January 29, 2016

Underrated Bond: Women

Ladies first.

Tracy Bond, On Her Majesty's Secret Service
She's popular with fans, but the only Mrs. Bond is still frustratingly unknown to the broader public.

Before Vesper Lynd, Tracy was the One. The only Mrs. Bond, the only one to affect Bond's character in a meaningful way, and the only woman whose death was worth a damn in the franchise.

The daughter of a crime kingpin, Tracy had no illusions about her father and Bond's backgrounds, but also no hang ups. When she runs into an exhausted, disarmed Bond on the run from Blofeld's goons, she does not hesitate to get him out of trouble. Cue a magnificent car chase in which Tracy totals the opposition's vehicles and 007 stops seeing her as just another fling.

A loose cannon with whip smarts who had no problem throwing down when things got ugly, Tracy is the kind of female protagonist most action films can only dream of.

Natalya Simonova, GoldenEye
The first Bond Girl of the 90s, and the best of the Brosnan era if one takes Elektra King out of the equation.

Natalya has skills that Bond does not, and is a quick study on the skills he has. In a refreshing break with convention, she is not blind to the moral ambiguities of Bond's job. She does not see him as a hero, and questions his detached approach to life.

She does not influence his character as meaningfully as Tracy or Vesper, but by either the standards of Bond Girls or just as a female action lead, Natalya Simonova is more substantial as a character than you would expect from either archetype.

Elektra King, The World Is Not Enough
It felt odd putting Elektra on this list, considering [SPOILERS] she turns out to be the Big Bad.

The daughter of one of M's (Judi Dench) friends, she was kidnapped and ransomed by terrorist leader Renard (Robert Carlyle). When her father, at M's urging, refused to pay the ransom, Elektra took matters into her own hands to escape.

Over the course of the movie, Bond realises that Elektra had seduced Renard and is now using him to perpetrate a campaign of vengeance against her father and M.

Complicated, manipulative, psychotic and completely self-assured, Elektra is the kind of problematic character that the Bond franchise needs more of. Too psychologically complex to fit any of the series's female archetypes, she stands apart as one of the series's too few experiments with strong female characters.

Easily one of the most well rounded and original spins on the Bond Girl and Villain archetypes in the series, Elektra deserves more recognition for having understandable motivations. If the movie around her was better, her status would be assured as one of the best latter-day antagonists in the franchise. 

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