For as much as James Bond is treated as a hero around the world - actor Daniel Craig even escorted the Queen to the London Olympics while in character - he can be a cold-hearted SOB. That’s how author Ian Fleming described him, as a detached killer that he called a “blunt instrument.”
Bond kills bad guys - that's part of the job - so no-one expects him to be an angel while penetrating exotic fortresses or driving recklessly down city streets. He’s certainly saved the world many times during his 24 cinematic adventures, but there was more than one occasion where he didn't act like the Good Guy.
10 Bond Disables Medical Staff
In 2002’s Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan played the suave, secret agent recovering from months of imprisonment in North Korea. Bond had been exchanged for a foreign spy and comes under suspicion of betrayal while recovering onboard a ship in Hong Kong harbor. Seeking to escape the medical ward, he somehow lowers his heart-rate to the point of simulating a heart attack, and while the staff rushes to his aid he knocks them out, attacking one with heart-defibrillator paddles. The very same MI6 staff who helped save his life are rewarded with potentially fatal injuries from their patients.
Although the scene is meant to portray Bond’s skill and resourcefulness escaping from a government facility, his method is ludicrous to the point of comedy; especially as he then wanders into an elite Hong Kong hotel bearded and disheveled.
9 Bond Threatens Scaramanga’s Mistress
1974’s The Man With the Golden Gun is considered by many to be the worst of the Roger Moore Jame Bond films, and it’s hard to argue with this disjointed effort, which was obviously meant to cash in on the martial arts craze at the time. We all know that Bond can be dismissive toward women, and while trying to find assassin Scaramanga, he roughs-up and threatens his would-be-lover, Andrea Anders (Maud Adams).
Moore resisted portraying Bond so callously on set and suggested he should “charm” Anders for the information he needed. But it's hard to see the scene as anything but an assault on a vulnerable woman, one who isn't one of the bad guys. It certainly makes his subsequent remorse at her death, by the hand of the villain, less sincere.
8 Bond Throws His Friend in the Dumpster
Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Bond can be especially cruel, as we’ll see throughout this list, and his treatment of a recently killed colleague illustrates that in Quantum of Solace. When his friend, the retired agent René Mathis (Giancarlo Giannini), is gunned down on the streets of Sucre, Bolivia, Bond initially comforts him - then empties his wallet and throws the body into a nearby dumpster.
When Bolivian intelligence agent Camille (Olga Kurylenko) asks “Is this how you treat your friends?” Bond replies “He wouldn't care.” Bond's isolation and cruelty are exposed at this moment, along with an earlier scene where he remarks that he has ‘‘no friends.’’
7 Bond Pummels Fellow Agents
Also in Quantum of Solace, Bond is confronted by M after escaping the aerial attack of Dominic Greene’s men, and walking miles across arid countryside to his hotel. She tells him “when you can’t tell your friends from your enemies, it’s time to go,” and accuses him of killing an undercover agent (although the audience knows he didn't). He’s stripped of his weapons and escorted to an elevator by a British security team, to be taken back to London.
Craig’s Bond then launches a vicious attack on his 4 colleagues, leaving them broken and bloody inside the elevator car. He heads back to tell “M” he needs to complete his mission, and she - like the audience - is shocked he would be so hostile with his fellow agents. Bond fights with thugs every time - but dispatching his coworkers to prove a point is especially callous.
6 Bond Strips a Young Woman
Timothy Dalton played Bond with more coldness than his predecessors, in The Living Daylights and License to Kill, with mixed results. Dalton is arguably one of the best actors to portray Bond, but he seemed to struggle with the more impish aspects of the character - but not his cruelty.
In “The Living Daylights,” while confronting Russian General Leonid Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies) and his mistress in their hotel room, Bond realizes Pushkin's goons are about to rush in. To distract them he strips the young woman topless and forces her to stand just inside the doorway when they rush in. He successfully subdues the guards and allows Pushkin's mistress to flee and compose herself. Bond can be sexist and misogynistic in Fleming’s novels and the earlier movies, but rarely has he been so contemptuous toward women.
5 Bond Discards His One-Night-Stand
Again with Daniel Craig, we see a Bond who treats women “like disposable pleasures,” to quote Britsh accountant Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) in Casino Royale. Bond has woo-ed dozens of women, good and bad, over the years, and they are more often than not forgotten (or killed off) in the pursuit of his mission.
So for Bond to lose interest in an exotic woman he has recently “conquered” is not unusual for our hero - but in Casino Royale, he’s especially heartless. When his lover Solange (Caterina Murino) is found drowned on the beach, M suggests that Bond remains emotionally detached, saying “but that’s not your problem is it?” What was Bond dispassionate response regarding the woman he seduced and is likely to blame for her messy death? A simple “No.”
4 Bond Doesn't Save The Girl
Bond’s relationship with Sévérine in Skyfall is at best complicated, at worst misconstrued. When Craig’s Bond meets her in a Macao casino, he correctly surmises she a former prostitute under the control of the antagonist, former MI6 agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). Rather than freeing her from the villain’s grasp, Bond uses her to get to Silva’s hideout and does nothing to stop her death in a bizarre shootout in a deserted city.
Sévérine (Berenice Marolohe) death occurs just moments before “the cavalry arrives” in the form of several military helicopters, giving Bond and the audience little time to mourn. In fact, Bond’s response to the death of his recent tryst, who was holding a glass of liquor before she was shot in the head, was “What a waste of good scotch.”
3 Bond & The Nurse
Bond’s seduction of the women who pass through his adventures has often been awkward, lewd, blunt, and brisk. Some of his films don’t seem to have time to take the character through a realistic romance, and sometimes just one quip makes his target fall in this bed. Out of all these instances, few have been as uncomfortable as Bond pushing Patricia Fearing (Molly Peters) into a sauna in Thunderball.
The scene is played for laughs - prepubescent humor anyways - and his lover is eventually shown to enjoy her moment with Bond. But in threatening to get her fired from her job unless she succumbs to his desires, it’s very uncomfortable viewing (even in 1965). Moore and other Bonds would spend many hours trying to undo the damage.
2 Bond Sets the Villain on Fire
As noted Dalton’s Bond films gave the producers mixed results, as they furthered the franchise financially in the 80s without much critical acclaim. Dalton himself left after only 2 films, but not before he carried out one of the more brutal kills in the entire series.
By the time audiences got to the end of License to Kill, we were keen for Bond to triumph over the bad guys, get the girl, and save us from any more appearances from actor Wayne Newton. The movie ends with a thrilling chase sequence featuring large tractor-trailers, with Bond seemingly defeated at the hands of drug-lord Sanchez (Robert Davi). Before Sanchez can strike the fatal blow, Bond notices his nemesis is covered in gasoline and quickly sets him alight with a cigarette lighter
That the supervillain had to die was understood by moviegoers - but even the filmmakers pulled their punches, having Sanchez run screaming off-screen to his death. No matter what the bad guy did to Bond or his friends, setting him aflame seems especially ruthless.
1 Bond’s First Indiscriminate Killing
It was important for producers Harry Saltzman and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli to set the tone for the James Bond movies quickly, and this was effectively done in the first film Dr. No.
Dr. No introduces many of Bond’s signature components - the fast cars, the seductive women, and the first time he utters the immortal “Bond, James Bond.” But there was no more important scene then his confrontation with the murderous Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson), who tried to shoot Bond while the secret agent slept in his room. After emptying his gun, Dent realizes he’s caught in Bond’s trap, and 007 wryly notes “That's a Smith and Wesson, and you’ve had your six” bullets.
In any other action-adventure film of the time, the hero would disable the bad guy, or have him arrested by the local authorities. But in his first cinematic outing, Bond shoots his unarmed victim twice - once in the back - to let everyone know Bond is not a good guy.