Super sexy and delectably dangerous; the Bond girls rep the femme fatale archetype unlike any other seductress of the silver screen. Along with dry martinis, Aston Martins and psychotic villains, no Bond movie would be complete without them, and often they are far more intriguing than the men behind 007 himself (#sorrynotsorry George Lazenby). So, to celebrate the upcoming release of Spectre, we decided to reminisce over our favourite female roles of the past 23 Bond films.
**WARNING: spoilers ahead**
Zachary’s pick: Lupe Lamora, License To Kill (1989)
In the only film where two leading Bond girls simultaneously vie for 007’s heart (and share copious amounts of screen time together), Lupe Lamora has to be my pick for the best Bond girl. Not only is she not white, she’s also feisty, strong and stunningly beautiful.
Played by Talisa Soto, who’d later go on to mentor Robin Shou in the video game adaptation Mortal Kombat (1995), Lupe manages to outsmart her abusive druglord boyfriend, withstand the lecherous advances of some of his henchmen, and seduce James, only to have her love spurned in favour of the easier, whiter choice (Carey Lowell) by the end of the film.
Licence To Kill stood out for me because it gave Bond a heart. Here were two immaculate women before him, and he loved them both. No longer were the women in these movies purely for sex and death; they were breathing, feeling counterparts, and Lupe is perhaps the greatest lover Bond never had.
The Whipping Scene – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv-7vIdkBiQ
Tom’s Pick: Xenia Onatopp, Goldeneye (1995)
1995’s Goldeneye is an entertaining balance between classic Bond canon and inventive ideas. Indeed, Pierce Brosnan’s first stint as 007 far surpasses most of the franchise’s adventures. Along with Brosnan’s Bond, Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) and Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) became formidable, and memorable, characters.
Onatopp, matching her amusing surname, establishes swift, irrefutable dominance over her targets. Bond and Onatopp’s car chase sequence pits both characters’ fearlessness against one another. In addition, their first conversation sparks a witty, unique dynamic. Labelled a “Georgian lust murderer”, the former Soviet Air Force pilot’s tenaciousness combines Bond-girl beauty with Oddjob-level intimidation. Among many talents, her trademark thigh-grip unleashes an anaconda-style grip. Like many Bond foes, Onatopp reaches a tough, painful demise. Despite matching Bond blow-for-blow, she, ironically, is painfully suffocated. 007 perfectly sums it up: “She always did enjoy a good squeeze”.
Bond and Onatopp’s banter gets the ball rolling – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJpc-zXc4cc
Rhys’ Pick: Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale (2006)
Would Casino Royale, 007’s gritty 2006 reboot, worked even half as well without the striking presence of Vesper Lynd? Doubtful. Played by sultry French actress Eva Green, Vesper ranks among the best Bond girls to date not because she rigidly conforms to the archetype, but because she so fiercely rejects it.
Think about it; she’s intelligent, self-made, resilient and oozing with sarcastic wit. She more than holds her own in that now infamous introductory scene aboard the train to Montenegro, exchanging quip after quip with the sassy young spy she detests from the get-go; “So as charming as you are, Mr. Bond, I will be keeping my eye on our government’s money – and off your perfectly-formed arse.”
That’s not to say she’s a heartless robot – her vulnerability starts to show after aiding Bond in a brutal stairwell fistfight, and the eventual love that blossoms between them is made even more gut-wrenching when we discover she was working to undermine Bond’s mission the whole time, an emotional twist that turns Bond from naïve rookie into the hardened killer he is today.
Plus, she has a pretty rocking drink named after her too.
“I’m the money” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S39paDGZ0Ew
Kit’s Pick: Strawberry Fields, Quantum of Solace (2008)
My favourite Bond lady is unlikely to rank alongside Ursula Andress, Diana Rigg or Honor Blackman in a popularity contest. She featured (with very little screen time) in a film which was panned by critics as one of the worst in the Bond canon. However, Agent Strawberry Fields, played by the stunning Gemma Arterton, shone opposite Daniel Craig in 2008’s Quantum of Solace. Fields harkens back to the stereotypical glamour girls of the Connery and Moore eras who would aid Bond in a particular location, as opposed to the entire movie. She met her sticky end in a hotel room; a direct parallel to an iconic scene in 1963’s Goldfinger where another Bond Girl was killed in a similar fashion using gold paint. An accomplished theatre actress, Arterton gives it her all in the role; presenting us with a plucky character who didn’t easily submit to Bond’s art of seduction.
My Name Is Fields – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZEiTllO-nI
Corey’s Pick: M, Goldeneye (1995) – Skyfall (2012)
Bond girls come and go with each adventure, succumbing to betrayal, death, or simply disinterest, but one woman (at least since GoldenEye) has remained consistent in 007’s life – Dame Judi Dench’s M, the head of MI6 and watchful eye over every dangerous mission undertaken by her agents.
Based on an actual female Director General of British Intelligence, M initially holds Bond (originally Pierce Brosnan) in disdain, but, like most, is won over by Bond’s famous charm and pure efficiency. Proving so endearing she survived the series’ retcon, and evolved into something of a maternal figure for Daniel Craig’s rendition; particularly in Skyfall, where her past actions involving a former MI6 operative make her integral to Bond’s mission, and lead to her untimely death.
As an orphan, the matriarchal M was the closest thing to a mother 007 ever had; he did indeed care deeply for her, as evidenced by his breakdown into tears clutching her lifeless body – an atypically emotional moment for the franchise, and perhaps the most human Bond has ever behaved. She will be sorely missed.
Bond pays M a visit in Skyfall – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaauiVU4To
Images courtesy of United International Pictures, Chapel Distribution & Sony Pictures