Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The World Is Not Enough (1999) | Women

Dr. Molly Warmflash might be my least favorite Bond woman of all time. First there's her horrible name, but more than that she's a kind of character who doesn't belong in modern Bond films. I accepted Caroline from GoldenEye because she was an intentional throwback for the rest of the movie to comment on, but Warmflash (I hate even typing that name) doesn't get that leeway. She knows she's doing something unethical by clearing Bond for duty with a screwed up collarbone, but she does it anyway for sex in the exam room. And just to make sure we don't mistake this for a mutually non-committal thing, she makes the condition of her compliance that "you have to promise to call me this time." She's the worst.

Well, Bond's the worst, but she's right there next to him.

Sophie Marceau is wonderful at Elektra King, though the character's motivations could have been developed a lot better. I love the tragedy and how it affects M; I'm just not convinced that there's enough there to explain Elektra's hatred toward her father and her sociopathy.

I'd also love more background on her motto: "There's no point in living, if you can't feel alive." Is that something she believed before her kidnapping or did it develop after? We get no sense for what Elektra was like before meeting Renard, which is unfortunate. She's a fascinating character and could have been even more so.

Another thing I really like about her is how she shames Bond for using her (for sex as well as bait). That's not quite fair since she pushed hard for the sex, but it's cool to see Bond confronted for once after doing this to so many women. I would have loved to see Solitaire push him like that, for instance.

So... Dr. Christmas Jones.

Here's the thing. I don't hate her. Not by a long shot. Most people don't like her and I get it. Denise Richards playing a nuclear scientist is its own punchline. And she's not especially necessary to the movie, so she does feel a little tacked on.

What I don't get is the sheer outrage by fans over her. I frequently hear her brought up as the worst Bond Girl of all time and that's just not true. Tilly Masterson, Stacey Sutton, and Paris Carver all immediately leap to mind as having more problems than Christmas Jones. She's not even the worst Bond Girl in this film (hello, Doctor).

Look, I'm willing to admit that I cut her some slack because she looks like Denise Richards and dresses like Lara Croft, but she's an active character who figures things out and contributes to the mission. She doesn't deserve the horrible reputation she has. No, Richards isn't great with her lines, but worst ever? Not even a little bit. In fact, she's going to bump Holly Goodhead out of the Top Ten.

My Favorite Bond Women

1. Tracy Bond (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2. Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only)
3. Kara Milovy (The Living Daylights)
4. Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)
5. Paula Caplan (Thunderball)
6. Tatiana Romanova (From Russia With Love)
7. Natalya Simonova (GoldenEye)
8. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
9. Domino Derval (Thunderball)
10. Christmas Jones (The World Is Not Enough)


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I think the hate for Christmas Jones is just magnetic. Like Wesley Crusher, Jar Jar Binks or the invisible car from Die Another Day she's just an easily identifiable scapegoat that's really just the tip of the iceberg for problems with a particular movie or medium.

It also helps that a lot of people on the Internet grew up seeing this performance and stuck with them far more than the other mediocre performances in films that came before.

Michael May said...

I'd throw the theme song for Die Another Day in there as well. It's not a great song, but there are far far worse.


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