Everybody gets to play James Bond these days. Matt Damon famously played Jason Bourne in four movies, Chris Hemsworth is currently starring in Extraction 2 as the lead actioneer Tyler. Chris Pratt is Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and of course Tom Cruise is about to return in the latest two Mission Impossible epics. Meanwhile Mike Myers became Austin Powers, Rowan Atkinson was Johnny English and Liam Neeson morphed into the Taken dad, with a very particular set of skills. And let’s not forget my all-time favourite incarnation of James Bond, Harrison Ford as the wise-cracking, whip-cracking Indiana Jones.
They don’t all play the same kind of James Bond character but then none of the actors who played James Bond himself really played James Bond as the same character. But now the spirit of 007 is everywhere. You could say James Bond has become a victim of his own success. When he first leapt onto the screen in 1962 no one had seen anything quite like it, they do say that North by Northwest was really the first James Bond movie, an action-packed Hitchcock prototype, but it was Sean Connery who drank the shaken martinis, sported the gadgets and coined the phrase ‘Bond, James Bond.’ And now James is everywhere and everyone’s saving the world.
The action gets bigger and bigger, the stunts more and more death-defying.
And yet still the world needs saving.
Or does it?
Well that depends on what we mean by saving. Every day I have moments when I know I need rescuing, from my fears for the future, from my muddling mistakes, from the catastrophising about everyday things. But I doubt that Indiana Jones or Jonny English can rescue me with their extraordinary showmanship and shenanigans. Much as I enjoy both. I need a different kind of rescuer, one who understands me, and doesn’t come armed with a gun or a whip or muscles the size of mars. I need the hero described in Hebrews 4 v 13, ‘one who has faced all the temptations we do’, one who has walked the tracks of this tricky existence and can help me care about life and others. One who can lift my head when I find myself staring into the dirt. One who can strengthen my weary bones and help me to put one foot in front of the other. It may not be as exhilarating as watching James blow up Blofeld’s secret lair, but it makes all the difference to so many of us around the world.
James Bond will return!