Thursday, September 24, 2015

Quantum of Solace (2008) | Women

"Look how well your charm works, James. They'll do anything for you, won't they?"

I like Agent Fields quite a bit even though she's the traditional archetype of the woman whom Bond charms into helping him against her better judgment. The Brosnan films called back to it too, but never this well. Agent Fields has an inner life that makes sense and we get to see her conflict over helping Bond. She claims to be angry at herself, but not so much that she's not enjoying what's going on.

I'm not saying she's the strongest character in the world, but I do like her so much more than Caroline from GoldenEye and especially Dr. Warmflash.

Speaking of ridiculous names, by the way: Fields has one. It's never mentioned in the movie (and when Bond asks her first name, she replies that it's "just Fields"), but the credits list her as Strawberry Fields. I get a lot of pleasure out of knowing that she has an absurd Bond Girl name, but she's not going to let it define her.

Camille Montes is going to be one of my Top Five favorite women in a Bond movie. First, she's played by Olga Kurylenko who won me over in the underrated Hitman (2007) and whom I always enjoy, even when the films she's in aren't that good. But more than that, Camille is a unique Bond Girl. She and Bond share a kiss at the end, but it's not even a romantic one. There's zero sexual tension between them, because they're both too busy focusing on other things.

She's the hero of her own story. It just so happens to intersect with Bond's and he accidentally interrupts and ruins hers for a bit. His helping her out isn't because she can't do it on her own; it's restitution. It's like when you unintentionally knock someone over, the proper thing to do is to stop and help her up again. It's not that she can't get up on her own; it's just acknowledging and trying to make up for your mistake.

I love Melina Havelock's revenge story in For Your Eyes Only, too, but I like this one better. With Melina, Bond's a mentor as well as a lover, so there's a certain amount of her deferring to him. He doesn't stop her from taking revenge, but he does warn her about the consequences of it. Craig's Bond never does that with Camille. He offers her some advice on how to kill when it's personal, but that's it. She's totally doing her own thing and he's totally on board with it.

And of course he is. Their stories are separate, but they're also the same. Both are after revenge. I don't believe Bond lets his desire for revenge compromise his sense of duty, but there's no doubt that he would love to murder all the people who had a hand in Vesper's death. He's just more conflicted about it than Camille is.

But I think her clarity helps him out. I think he gets some resolution vicariously through her and that it helps him through the healing process.

It's people like Canadian agent Corrine Veneau that make me especially glad I haven't titled this section "Bond Girls." Corrine isn't a Bond Girl in any sense of the term. She and he barely interact and when they do, it's not the least bit romantic. But since she's a woman, I get to talk about her in this post and I'm glad, because she's great.

First of all, she's played by Stana Katic from Castle, which is awesome. But also, Katic just does a great job with her. She barely gets to talk, but as soon as she figures out what Bond is revealing about her boyfriend, it's obvious that she's deeply embarrassed and ashamed, but also relieved that she's found out before something tragic happened. Her almost inaudible "thank you" to Bond as she slinks out of the hotel room is heart-breaking. Makes me extremely glad that Katic went on to do bigger things.

My Favorite Bond Women

1. Tracy Bond (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2. Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)
3. Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only)
4. Camille Montes (Quantum of Solace)
5. Kara Milovy (The Living Daylights)
6. Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)
7. Paula Caplan (Thunderball)
8. Tatiana Romanova (From Russia With Love)
9. Natalya Simonova (GoldenEye)
10. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)

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