James Bond might be the quintessential secret agent, but he’s also a pretty bad spy. However, there’s more than enough evidence to suggest that this might actually be by design. Both on and off the screen, Bond’s abysmal espionage is sort of… well, perfect.
The James Bond franchise is based on the stories of Ian Fleming. Fleming served in the British Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, and based Bond on his first-hand experiences. According to the author, Bond was written as a compound of the various agents and commandos that he met during his service. Not all the James Bond movies have been direct adaptations of Fleming’s stories. Recent movies have told original stories in a modern setting, but remain inspired by the Bond novels.
However, many have pointed out that James Bond is actually an awful secret agent. He loudly identifies himself by name, he lacks any subtlety in his investigations, and he leaves a trail of dead bodies in his wake. Even so, he’s still the best-known and most beloved secret agent of all time. So how does being a bad spy make James Bond so perfect?
James Bond Being A Bad Spy Helps Protect Real-Life Agents
One of the regular criticisms of the James Bond movies is that they misrepresent the work of real spies. After watching the movies, it seems as though being a secret agent is all about avoiding deadly traps or engaging in high-speed car chases and public shootouts. Of course, real agents don’t really do those things at all – spy work is mostly about gathering intelligence.
As the world’s best-known secret agent, James Bond being a bad spy actually helps his real-life counterparts. Building public misconceptions about the work spies do only helps the real agents carry out their work undetected. After all, if you were looking for a spy, you’d be looking for a someone suave and self-assured sipping on a martini. Meanwhile, the real-life spies can blend into the background, safely carrying out their work. In this, Bond’s larger-than-life actions actually protect real-life people.
Bond’s Terrible Spy Work Might Serve An In-Universe Purpose
There are many crazy fan theories about James Bond. However, there’s one that posits his bad spy work might serve a purpose within the confines of his fictional universe, too. The theory goes that Bond is actually a terrible spy by choice, and it makes a surprising amount of sense.
It suggests that Bond is sent in to distract the villains by clumsily gathering intel and engaging henchmen in every form of armed combat imaginable. While Bond does this, better spies work to gather real intelligence, then slip away undetected. The theory is actually based on supposed real-life tactics used by spy agencies and military organizations, so it may well be more plausible than it sounds. Either way, it seems that James Bond being a bad spy serves a purpose – so next time you criticize his incredibly tactless attempts at stealth, you should think twice. He might just be saving a life.
No Time To Die was a great wrap up for Daniel Craig but what happens to 007 and/or Bond next? Should Bond veer towards non-fiction and risk its escapism value or dare it risk reverting to the more incredulous make-believe of earlier years and face the tsunami of adverse criticism that the Gray Man got recently?
Maybe Bond should get back to the basics. If you’re an espionage aficionado, an Ian Fleming follower or a 007 devotee then you must know about puffer fish poisons and who wrote the Trout Memo and Beyond Enkription and why. If not, and you want to be an espionage illuminatus, you had best Google “Trout Memo” and study The Burlington Files and Pemberton’s People in MI6. Why? The grey areas surrounding fact and fiction have never been murkier. The world can’t even make up its mind who is entitled to be the president of the USA despite the facts.
If Bond doesn’t get real or more realistic we reckon the final nail in wee Jimmy Bond’s coffin may have been hammered in by Jackson Lamb. Mick Herron’s anti-Bond sentiments combine lethally with the sardonic humour of the Slough House series to unreservedly mock not just Bond but also British Intelligence which has lived too long off the overly ripe fruits Fleming left to rot! Time for a fresh start based on a real spy.
For more beguiling anecdotes best read a brief and intriguing News Article about Pemberton’s People in MI6 dated 31 October 2022 in TheBurlingtonFiles website and then read Beyond Enkription.