Being an avid, almost fanatical Bond fan for the last forty or so years, I naturally had quite an emotional reaction to the finale of Daniel Craig’s tenure as Ian Fleming’s iconic character. The film generally received positive reviews, praising the action sequences and the emotional depth brought to the character of Bond – but it was the decision to kill off the main character, along with other supporting roles, which caused the most conversation and, in some circles, garnered instant criticism.
There is no doubt that killing Bond provided a definitive and powerful ending to Daniel Craig’s reign, completing the full narrative journey over his five films from pre double O to emotionally burdened and vulnerable professional. It also showed the audience that even the most skilled and charismatic spy is not invincible and provided the viewers with a sense of realism around the dangers of current espionage. However, killing one of the most enduring and iconic characters in cinematic history was a serious gamble on the part of the creative team. Was this choice going to alienate a sizable portion of the Bond fan base or was it an extremely clever artistic decision, rounding out the full story and opening the door for new and diverse characters to take centre stage?
One could ask, why kill him? Why not just see him retire gracefully and enjoy vodka martinis in Nassau, for example? Even if subsequent films explore new characters, Bond could possibly make appearances as a mentor or, dare I say it, a future ‘M’. On the other hand, a dead Bond certainly evokes poignancy and creates an extremely emotional attachment for hard-core fans of the franchise.
Whatever you feel about the latest instalment, one has to ask if we will hear these words in a cinema ever again: ‘The name’s Bond. James Bond’.