Sometimes movie characters become synonymous with the occupation they perform on the big screen. Yet, after close scrutiny, it appears they might frankly be terrible at that job. Here are three people that should have sought new careers long ago.
James Bond – Spy
Never mind the day job, it’s actually been pointed out that James Bond isn’t a great gambler, and anyone that regularly visits Canadian online casinos probably has the required skills or knowledge to be better than Bond at his favorite games. Bond does make gambling look great fun and has probably inspired many people to go searching for the best online versions of roulette, poker, or baccarat, but his gambling prowess seems to mostly be pure luck, particularly the ridiculous hands in Casino Royal.
Yet, Bond is primarily considered the world’s best spy and he has stopped global devastation numerous times. Regardless of which interpretation of this legendary figure you choose, every single iteration of Ian Fleming’s persona, whether it be the silly, foolish escapades of Roger Moore or the arduous, grave assignments handed to Daniel Craig, is obviously bad at their job.
The first rule of spy school is don’t use your real name and certainly don’t go around telling everyone your real name at every opportunity. Bond, James Bond follows his own rules, which is a bad idea for a spy, and he just can’t seem to get anything done without drawing a disproportionate amount of attention to the British Secret Intelligence Service. Not only does he leave a trail of dead bodies, explosions, abandoned cars, and destroyed top-secret gadgets, but he also brazenly disregards even the most elementary international surveillance protocols.
Because of his inability to concentrate on the task at hand or resolve conflicts amicably, Bond is just not a very good spy, but is this by design? One theory suggests that Bond is simply a distraction for the real agents to get to work. His outlandish stunts divert attention from his colleagues to get the real work done. It could just be that viewers much prefer watching a man like Bond fumble his way through problems, rather than someone who never makes a mistake. Perhaps the perfect spy is a sloppy spy? That’s for Bond to answer.
Peter Weir directed and Robin Williams starred in the 1989 American drama picture Dead Poets Society. This fictitious account of an English teacher who motivates his students by teaching poetry is set in 1959 at the posh, conservative Welton Academy. The movie was well-received critically and commercially and garnered nominations for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
Yet, we hope John Keating (Williams) didn’t influence any teachers with his unconventional teaching techniques. It’s hard to actually ascertain that Keating is a teacher because he certainly doesn’t do any teaching in the movie. Used by the Roman poet Horace, “Carpe diem” (seize the day) isn’t terrible advice, but Keating is employed to provide students with an understanding of poetry, not spend all his time quoting motivational posters and encouraging individualism. Having students stand on their desks is a clear health and safety violation and his confrontational style works in the movie but is a terrible idea for actual teachers looking to build rapport.
For real teachers, having a working relationship with parents is essential, so encouraging students to go against the wishes of their parents isn’t a smart move. In the movie, the students do develop a love of poetry, but they are not provided with any of the tools or skills to understand or analyze poetry and who knows what kind of assessment criteria is being used?
The parents sent their sons to the expensive school to learn something of substance that will provide them with opportunities in the future and Keating avoids teaching them anything and just lets them go at it with no instruction.
There should be some comment on the institution, as regular observations would have revealed Keating simply wasn’t doing his job and was encouraging young men to be confrontational and far from model students. He’s a particularly annoying character for actual teachers, as they spend a great deal of time preparing their lessons, while Keating does nothing and just seems to play it by ear.
It should be said that he’s not all bad and some elements he does get right are building relationships with students by showing that he cares about the subject matter and he makes the content relevant and engaging, but overall, not someone you want guiding young minds.
Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, and Gary Busey feature in Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 American action-crime film Point Break, not to be confused with the less remarkable Point Break remake. Reeves plays an undercover FBI agent in the movie who is entrusted with finding out the identity of a ring of bank thieves while forming a complicated friendship with the group’s leader (Swayze).
His boss, Ben Harp (John C. McGinley) sums up Johnny Utah (Reeves), “You’re a real blue flame special, aren’t you, son?.” Quite how Johnny Utah became an FBI agent isn’t altogether clear.
Just like Bond, the major issue that seems strange is that Johnny Utah used his real name when he went undercover to enter the surfing scene, but it wasn’t the only element of the operation that didn’t appear well-planned. Undercover with bank robber surfers, he joins two stakeouts hunting for bank robber surfers. Unsurprisingly, his cover is exposed when he chases Bodhi (Swayze) after a robbery, and to avoid getting into trouble with his superiors, he shoots bullets into the air while screaming.
Quite what Johnny Utah learned at Quantico is unclear, as despite his cover clearly being blown, he decides to join Bodhi et al in jumping out of an airplane using a parachute they packed for him. Quite why this group risks it all to take Utah for a skydive is unclear, but they then decide an FBI agent is the perfect accomplice for one last job.
Utah is tricked into participating in the Ex-Presidents’ last bank robbery, but the perps escape during the robbery. A later conflict as the gang attempts to escape sees FBI Agent Angelo Pappas (Busey) also head to the morgue. Not great FBI work. Months later, Johnny and Bodhi meet on a beach in Australia, quite how Utah is still on the case and traveling outside the US is a mystery, but he’s there and ready to disappoint again. His final act, allows Bodhi to fulfill his surfer fate rather than doing his job and actually apprehending the criminal.
Point Break is in essence the story of a terrible bank robber and FBI agent. You’ll need to watch Michael Mann’s 1995 crime drama Heat with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro showing us what competent people doing their jobs looks like.
Three very different characters should never have advanced to their lofty positions and there are no doubt other movie icons that with a little added perception are revealed to be poor at their jobs.