The #Bond franchise has had its fair share of critics regarding the way it has approached some of its female characters. Yet, as the years have passed, even the harshest ones will have to admit that, for a series revolving around (as Judi Dench's M once so elegantly put it) "a sexist misogynist dinosaur, Bond has certainly been paired up with a fair amount of more than capable female allies during his missions.
Now, these characters have undoubtedly improved the #BondGirl trope while also being great additions to their respective films. Having said that, this article is not so much an exploration on how they have shaped the Bond franchise. Rather, it's just my little way of paying homage to some of my favorite Bond allies who just so happen to be female. Also, I should add that this list is reserved for field agents only. Therefore, the truly brilliant female allies such as Natalya Simonova, Vesper Lynd, Tracy Bond, or unforgettable villains like Fiona Volpe, Xenia Onatopp and Elektra King will not be featured on this list. So, let's get it going.
6. Wai Lin ('Tomorrow Never Dies')
Who is she? Spy for the Chinese People's External Security Force in the rank of Colonel.
What is her skill set? Besides being generally resourceful and handy with firearms, she is an expert in various martial arts. Hardly a surprise considering that she is played by the excellent Michelle Yeoh (as is the fact that Yeoh didn't use any stunt doubles).
What makes her fascinating? I have always considered Tomorrow Never Dies to be a run-of-the-mill Bond flick in the best sense of the word. Fun and easy to watch, it simply ticks all the boxes in regards to what one would expect from an average day in the office for Bond. Now, with that in mind, Wai Lin's no nonsense but easy going likability couldn't be a more perfect fit for a film like that.
You see, much like Bond (played here by #PierceBrosnan), you can clearly see that it's just another mission for her as she and Bond only team up because they have a common objective. As a result, we get a refreshingly straightforward character dynamic between the two agents. Their relationship is competitive (with a bit of one-upping going on), but not needlessly so. It's easygoing and friendly, but not heavily romantic (well, they do end up sleeping together in the end, but it seems as casual for Wai Lin, as it is for Bond).
All in all, Wai Lin offers us a likable, capable and a refreshingly down-to-earth take on the whole Bond Girl trope.
5. Pam Bouvier ('Licence To Kill')
Who is she? Former United States army pilot and CIA informer.
What is her skill set? Besides being a skilled pilot and proficient with various weapons, she also knows her way around the drug trafficking underworld. Now, for roque agent (Timothy Dalton) on a personal vendetta against a powerful drug lord, one couldn't ask for a better ally.
What makes her fascinating? First of all, Carey Lowell's portrayal of her is decidedly less glamorous and more hard edged than most of her predecessors. It's a great match for the grim and dark tones of this excellent revenge tale as she, Bond and Q make for a rather effective trio in taking down a drug operation.
However, what is perhaps more fascinating about this character is the way she is developed through the film. You see, rather expectedly for a Bond flick, she ends up falling head over heels for Bond (even becoming jealous of him). However, the believable and sincere way the filmmakers and actors approached her role doesn't relegate her character into becoming just another love interest for Bond. In fact, it remains one of the more genuine and less shallow relationships Bond has had on screen.
4. Camille Montes ('Quantum Of Solace')
Who is she? A Bolivian secret service undercover agent.
What is her skill set? While maybe not as all-around experienced as the first two entries on this list, she is clearly capable with guns, hand-to-hand combat and, well, generally tricky situations.
What makes her fascinating? As far as I'm concerned, she might be one of the most underrated and fascinating characters in the whole franchise. In fact, one could argue that the title of the film — Quantum of Solace — applies to her as much as it applies to Bond.
Now, in regards to Bond, it's rather obvious that the film's title is a reference to him relentlessly pursuing people behind the emotionally scarring death of a loved one (Vesper) in order to find at least some closure and solace.
However, Camille's story is perhaps even more tragic. You see, here we have this emotionally and physically scarred person who, after witnessing the murders of her entire family as a child, later joins the secret service to get back at the man responsible. Much like Bond, she also acknowledges that the revenge can't fix her emotional scars and will only offer her little closure and solace.
Thing is, there is nothing really romantic going on between Bond and Camille. It's just a story of two emotionally scarred persons who understand each other's pain and work together to find that quantum of solace as their respective pursuits overlap. It's actually kind of beautiful in an understated way, and Olga Kurylenko brilliantly brings this tragic character to life.
3. Zoe Nightshade ('Agent Under Fire' And 'Nightfire')
Who is she? CIA operative.
What is her skill set? A highly capable agent, she is an excellent marksman while also a brilliant driver and pilot.
What makes her fascinating? As one could assume, being a supporting character from two early '00s first-person shooters is not exactly a recipe for substance and dimension in a character. However, as vague as she may be, there is quite a bit to like about her. She's witty, has some good banter with Bond and is generally a useful ally. Also, since Agent Under Fire and Nightfire are very much about letting the player have this authentic Bond experience, she is simply one of these crucial elements that helps to achieve it in the role of a Bond Girl.
Furthermore, Nightshade is one of the few Bond allies who gets to play a substantial part in two consecutive 007 adventures (apart from MI6 regulars, of course). In fact, when she and Bond meet again in Nightfire, their relationship subtly resembles that of two ex-lovers, who still kind of like each other, which is a rather classy touch.
2. Anya Amasova A.K.A. Agent XXX ('The Spy Who Loved Me')
Who is she? A KGB agent. Not to be confused with the other famous fictional agent rocking the same codename (although confusing Barbara Bach with Vin Diesel would probably be a bit of a stretch).
What is her skill set? The true extent of her skills is left a bit vague in the film, but she seems to be a good match for Bond in both ability and resourcefulness.
What makes her fascinating? While I find the other entries on this list to be either better developed or more fun to watch, I can't deny the precedent this cold and cunning agent set. Not only was she the first female agent who matched Bond, but her work for an antagonistic agency and the fact that Bond killed her lover meant that she had some nice layers to her. Other than that, not much to add here. Well, apart from the good chemistry between Barbara Bach and Roger Moore.
1. Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson ('Die Another Day')
Who is she? NSA operative.
What is her skill set? Guns, swords, hand-to-hand combat, piloting, CGI dives from unrealistic heights — you name it, Jinx has got it all!
What makes her fascinating? Now, whether or not you like Jinx essentially comes down how much you enjoy the ambitious and over-the-top silliness that is Die Another Day. If you don't, chances are that she is one of the most irritating characters in this film. If you do, however, you'll probably love this character. You see, for a movie with invisible cars and surfing on CGI tidal waves, this sassy agent — who cracks "Yo Mama's" jokes while being tortured — couldn't be a more perfect fit.
In a way, she's like a sassier version of Wai Lin — a capable agent who establishes a competitive but straightforward relationship with Bond as they share a common goal. However, whereas the banter between Bond and Wai Lin was kind of sweet, the one between Jinx and Bond is — in true Die Another Day fashion — a selection of sexual innuendos and one liners.
Halle Berry really does a great job in embracing the tone of the film by bringing the necessary energy and physicality to the role. Also, on a side note, it's fun to see Jinx giving Bond a taste of his own medicine, when she's the one who bails on Bond after spending a rather passionate night together.
To Sum Up
All in all, the most important thing for pretty much any fictional character is simply to be likable, well-written and interesting. Therefore, it's obvious that a female character in an action flick doesn't necessarily have to be some ultimate action heroine to be fascinating. Having said that, they certainly can be brilliant in that role. It's something that — thanks to these aforementioned ladies — was made clear to me from a very young age.
Check out the video below for another Bond staple: the killer one-liners. There plenty more cool videos to watch over at Movie Pilot Video.
Who is your favorite female agent from the James Bond franchise?
(Sources: James Bond Wiki)