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The Direction of 007 in 2015

Written by Daniel Kirby on 14th October 2015

As the world premiere of Spectre in London draws ever nearer, discussion surrounding the film has increased, and the key topic seems to be the character of the spy himself.

The James Bond series has been steaming along for over half a century, during which time there has been little change to the long established formula – and the series has become so deeply ingrained in our culture that even the release of the latest Bond song will make national news, as with the release of Sam Smith’s single – Writings’ on the Wall.

However, there has been some criticism of this song, which matches closely with the critique of the film series, which is that the recent iterations of the Bond movie (and the lyrics of Smith’s song) appear to be attempting to bring a greater sense of vulnerability in the character.

“How do I live? How do I breathe? When you’re not here I’m suffocating.”

These are the opening lyrics of the chorus, and for some they have set off a few small alarm bells, especially considering the fact that Smith wrote the song after reading the script. The concern is that this tone of fragility must reflect issues that are covered in the film, and any such issues represent a betrayal of some of the core values of the Bond heritage.

The most notable critique of the recent films has come from Anthony Horowitz, the author of the next James Bond novel Trigger Mortis, who lambasted Skyfall  in a recent interview. He explained that "Bond is weak in it. He has doubts. That's not Bond”, and continued by voicing his concern over a certain aspect of the trailer for the upcoming Spectre  which suggests that the film is going to deal with Bond's troubled family history. "Don’t tell me, I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know about his doubts, his insecurities or weaknesses. I just want to see him act, kill, win."

This isn’t the first instance of a ‘weaker’ Bond however, as the issue had in fact already arisen by the end of the 1960’s, when George Lazenby shed a tear upon the death of Diana Rigg’s character during one take in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Lazenby, who had completed the majority of his scenes in just one take, was immediately asked to re-do the scene by director Peter Hunt, who explained simply ‘James Bond doesn’t cry.’

Clearly then, this is a familiar issue for the Bond franchise, and one which will surely continue to be explored over the comings months. Despite the criticism, Daniel Craig’s Bond films have been some of the most well-received of the series, and the hype is greater than ever. Spectre is to be released on October 26th, and many will be waiting to see in which direction 007 is headed.

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