Quantum of Solace – Women in Leadership – A Woman’s Review
On principle against the overt sexism, machismo, and “escapism” relationships with women, I avoided historical James Bond movies entirely, until in a moment of kindness, women in leadership I agreed to see Daniel Craig’s first Bond movie with my husband. Casino Royale was better than I expected and the women didn’t seem to be such classic “play things” I thought I briefly witnessed in the earlier Bond films.
On opening day, I once again found myself in front of Bond on screen in Quantum of Solace and found that I loved the movie. I enjoyed the complicated storyline and while the action scenes were abundant, they didn’t last so long that I found my mind wandering too far from the story.
I like Daniel Craig’s portrayal of James Bond best in Quantum of Solace because he seemed powerful, intelligent, in control, and sophisticated without appearing smug and conceited. His performance is so convincing because he didn’t even seem to be trying to be Bond – he just is Bond.
But the actor that arrested me most in Quantum of Solace was Judi Dench. Dench plays “M,” Bond’s boss and director of a Secret Intelligence Service branch (MI6). If I understand her role correctly, she answers directly to the Prime Minister, although in this movie, she received orders indirectly from other officials.
Judi Dench’s portrayal was cool, quick thinking, and exuded power. Even though her power and orders were usurped at times by a “reengage” Bond, she still managed to keep close reign on an escalating situation where there was little reliable intel.
I want to contrast her role in Quantum of Solace with another film. I recently watched “Ladies in Lavender” (2004) a very “English” film that was charming but not earth-shattering. Dench co-starred with Maggie Smith who was recently in the Harry Potter films and Becoming Jane.
The Ladies in Lavender roles were what one would expect for two older women, delegated to play two aging sisters who were kind-hearted but troubled by the past and the lack of opportunities in their lives. Dench played an adorable character but it was in line with the kinds of roles society expects older women to play – she was weak and childlike.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is M, who I decidedly like. Her commanding strength solicited respect from Bond even when he disagreed with her.
The ability to lead highly talented individuals and to maintain control is a leadership skill many women are still learning to yield. We saw poor executive leadership skills in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)where the overbearing female boss alienated her work staff in a comedic way.
The level of support and control Dench exhibited goes beyond the level of supervisory skills that come naturally to most women. Author Dr. Lois P. Frankel writes wonderful books about women and leadership. Her titles include: See Jane Lead and Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office 101: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers.