I love the James Bond “world,” and I have three sets of the novels because I read them so often that they wear out.
For anyone who has problems with the movies, read the novels. Movies can’t show the inner man. In the novels, we experience James Bond’s emotions. I think many of us identify with these emotions. Our sins are perhaps not so spectacular, as most of us don’t sleep with people that we don’t love, and most of us don’t kill people or gamble thousands of pounds, or smoke 60 cigarettes a day. But we still sin, and we can totally identify with how James Bond feels and thinks before, during, and after his sins.
Basically what Ian Fleming did was hyperbole. Bond does the same things we do, both good and bad, but his life is an exaggerated version of a real life. Musicals do this, too–none of us burst into song when we meet the one we love! But we can identify with the feelings of the characters.
Bond is “bigger than life,” and that’s why we love the movies and books. We all have a sense that there is much more to life than what we experience daily. (Christians recognize that there is a spiritual realm that is even more active and wonderful than our lives.) We all want to live life to the fullest, rather than drift through our days until we die. Bond challenges us to get out there and start living–write that novel, climb that mountain, paint that picture, learn to dance, take that vacation, have that party, buy that gift, quit that boring job and go back to school, etc.
I think one of the biggest appeals of the movies is heroism. This comes across so well in the novels and in the earlier movies. This man is willing to do ANYTHING for his Queen and his country and for the helpless, and to see justice done. He suffers terrible physical tortures, and the mental tortures are even worse.
I compare him to Sherlock Holmes, another British creation. Both men are almost inhuman in their excesses (for Holmes, the “excess” is extreme aestheticism). But they do it all for others, to right wrong and bring about justice. We love heroes.