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Content Warning: contains one minor spoiler
Poor James. It’s tough enough having to save the world every three years, but this time Bond, James Bond, was summoned to save the global cinema industry as well. Still, if anyone can do it, he can. And if any film can do it, this magnificent and moving climax to the sequence that began with Casino Royale is surely it.
Yes, the action sequences are superb, the plot full of surprises, and the cinematography sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, but it’s the film’s capacity to draw together all the major themes of Bond’s emotional yearnings that take it to a new level. Wounded by betrayal, set back by the death of Vesper – the woman who broke his heart – can Bond learn to truly trust again?
Along this emotional roller coaster, we are asked to ponder how long the ember of a true love may still glow in our hearts, how swiftly it may flicker into flame and consume any new possibility, how deep a betrayal may sink its bitter root into our psyche, and how hard, how very hard it is to forgive. And how necessary.
Here, Bond’s new love, Madeleine, challenges him to deal with his crippling failure to forgive. She brings him to the town where Vesper is buried on the day when the local custom is to write down past sins, hurts, and griefs on pieces of paper, set them alight and release them to the wind. How we all need a friend not only to see and share our burdens but to help us lay them down. Bond may comply, but will the past go gentle into the void?
Still, if Bond’s emotional progress is tentative, his attitude to women has finally taken ‘one giant leap’ forward. The chauvinist dinosaur who looked as if he might be rightly rendered extinct by the ‘me-too’ meteorite emerges as ‘monogamous man’.
Well, almost. Yes, he’s still amenable to the supposed swipe-right advances of an attractive woman, but gone is the casual utilitarianism. And the women in this film, from Nomi – a highly competent ‘00’ – to the perseveringly courageous Madeleine, are all a match for him. R-E-S-P-E-C-T abounds.
‘You were excellent’, he says to Paloma, a CIA agent, after her virtuoso performance in a prolonged gunfight. ‘So were you,’ she replies. The same could be said of this Bond – and for far more than his martial craft.
Greene. Mark Greene.
LICC Mission Champion
Image Credit: Universal Pictures