A beautiful sidekick who saves his life – but doesn’t shag him. A plot-line focussed around M, not the main man himself. What’s this? With the latest Bond movie Skyfall has the most famously misogynistic man in the movies gone… er, feminist? Well that’s certainly what critics are questioning after Skyfall director Sam Mendes packed his new release with powerful female role models alongside the usual gunfights and car chases.
Daniel Craig’s Skyfall action is a clear departure from 50 years of macho Bond movies. Gone are the days where 007 may have bedded four women in a single movie (Roger Moore in A View To A Kill) or willingly pursued someone who tried to resist his charms (Pussy Galore tried to fight him off in Goldfinger). Looking back at that, is it any wonder that when Dame Judy Dench first appeared on screen as M in 1995’s Goldeneye, she calls Bond, ‘a sexist, misogynist dinosaur’.
In Skyfall, we see Bond return from hiding to track down the latest threat to both MI6 and M. His loyalty to Queen and country is as unfaltering as always but there is a real sense that he’s also driven to protect Dame Judi – the woman that knows him better than anyone, despite the fact he’s never stepped foot in her bedroom. Take note of the scene where M is being questioned by female MP – and all the men in the room sit silently impotent. It’s refreshing stuff.
'Bond girls have to reflect the modern woman, and the modern woman is very talented and very capable, they're leaders in their field, they can do anything,’ Naomie Harris has said of playing Skyfall MI5 field agent Eve. 'They are equals to men and we have to reflect that in the movies.'
But perhaps there’s also a more cynical reason for this new Bond Girl – commercial success. Since last year’s smash-hit Bridesmaids, Hollywood seems to have cottoned on to the fact that women really can sell movies. And the effects are being felt even in the action arena. ‘This shift in the position of women in the film is part of the reason why Skyfall has had the biggest ever Bond opening and is on course to outpace 2006's Casino Royale (with $586m) as the most successful Bond film of all time at the box office,’ agrees The Guardian’s Jane Martinson.
Of course, let’s not get too carried away. This is still Bond – and there are still the obligatory sexy shower scenes with the gorgeous but ill-fated Severine and a smouldering tension with co-worker Eve. But we do love that at the heart of Skyfall is 007’s emotional connection to M. And Judi Dench’s powerhouse performance – one that’s seen her tipped as picking up the first ever acting Oscar nomination for the 50-year-old Bond franchise. Bring. It. On.