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"You know, you could've been a live rich man... instead of a poor dead one."
― Brad Whitaker to James Bond[src]

Brad Whitaker was a fictional American arms dealer and one of the main antagonists in the 1987 James Bond film The Living Daylights. He was portrayed by American actor Joe Don Baker.

Biography

Background

Brad Whitaker is an international black market arms dealer from the United States. He is fascinated by war - he always wears a US military uniform with the US insignia of General of the Army (5 stars General) - but his actual military career is a failure, so he turns to arms dealing to organize his own personal military force. Expelled from West Point for cheating, he spends a short stint as a mercenary in the Belgian Congo before working with various criminal organizations to help finance his first arms deals. He resides in Tangier, Morocco. He loves military history, and it is implied that he Wargames various historical conflicts using automated miniature figures and effects, such as the battles of Agincourt, Waterloo, and Gettysburg. In a conversation with James Bond during their confrontation, Whitaker believes that Pickett's Charge should have been made up Little Round Top, and that if Ulysses S. Grant was in charge of the Union at Gettysburg, he would have crushed the Army of Northern Virginia, thus ending the rebellion. He says "Meade should have taken another 35,000 dead at Gettysburg!".

Whitaker even has a pantheon of "great military commanders" in his headquarters, which included some of history's most famous and infamous figures, such as Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Oliver Cromwell, and Attila the Hun. Whitaker holds these men in high regard and calls them "surgeons who removed society's dead flesh". Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this collection is that all representations of these "surgeons" are sculpted to resemble Whitaker himself, which is highly noticeable when Whitaker hides among the statues waiting for General Pushkin to visit.

Scheme

Whitaker hires the help of Soviet General Georgi Koskov to secure a large shipment of opium from the Snow Leopard Brotherhood in Afghanistan for $500,000,000 worth of diamonds that he had obtained from an arms deal with the Soviets[1]. Once the opium is sold, Whitaker will have enough money to continue arms deals far into the future. At the same time, they attempt to use Bond to eliminate the Soviet head of secret operations, General Pushkin, on the basis that he has instituted an ongoing operation called "Smert Shpionam" (meaning "Death to Spies" in Russian). Actually, it is their men, especially Koskov's henchman Necros, who are involved in killing British secret service agents.

Final Showdown and Death

"Should've known you'd take refuge by that British vulture Wellington. You know, he had to buy German mercenaries to beat Napoleon, don't you?"
― Whitaker's last words to Bond before his death.[src]

After thwarting Whitaker's plans, Bond hunts him down at his Tangier headquarters, a plan which evolves into a game of cat-and-mouse in Whitaker's gaming room, with him using high-tech weapons such as an 80-round light machine gun with an integral ballistic shield, a bulletproof vest and a loaded antique battlefield cannon, and Bond using his Walther PPK. After 007 hides behind a bust of the Duke of Wellington, he sets his key-ring finder behind it. Whitaker gets right in front of it, and the key-ring finder explodes, triggered by Bond's wolf whistle. The explosion topples the bust and podium on top of Whitaker, crushing him through a glass display case containing one of his miniature wargaming setups resembling Waterloo. He thus dies on the battlefield after all, which makes Bond ironically quip to Pushkin, "He met his Waterloo."

Personality

As a former military man obsessed with "the war machine and gunpowder," Brad Whitaker retained his warrior-strategist mentality and distinguished himself as a shrewd businessman and smuggler whose ability to form the right alliances allowed him to increase his already considerable wealth and obtain ever more gadgets for his lair. Like Koskov, he was also adept at organizing complex plans to outwit his opponents and keep his true intentions secret. His alliance with the Soviet military allowed him to operate in the shadows of the USSR's ranks and he was ready to seize any opportunity to increase his wealth. An unscrupulous and unmoderated man, Whitaker always refused to give up a battle without fighting, sponsoring murders or launching offensives himself as demonstrated when he engaged Bond with the high-tech weaponry in his villa when the Americans and Soviets were about to arrest him. Human life was probably of no value to him as he openly claimed in front of 007 that the loss of more tens of thousands of Meade's soldiers during the battle of Gettysburg would have been conceivable as it could have guaranteed victory to the Union at Gettysburg.

Henchmen & Associates

Reception

Steven Rubin describes Whitaker as a "smarmy bad-guy arms trader".[2] Jeremy Black says of him; a "mad American pseudo-general, Brad Whitaker, the arms dealer, yet another figure with a Napoleon complex."[3] Baker himself called his character "a nut" who "thought he was Napoleon."[4] Paul Simpson describes Whitaker as "paunchy", and says that it is fortunate that he doesn't get much screen time.[5] Lee Pfeiffer and Dave Worrall say of him, "this egotistical US arms dealer models himself on history's most notorious dictators. In between orchestrating international arms deals, Whitaker enjoys re-creating battles with his vast dioramas and toy soldiers."[6] They believe that Joe Don Baker, although amusing, was miscast in the role as Whitaker.[6] They also criticized his believability as a villain, describing him as an "oaf" from the American South who nobody would doubt could easily be defeated by James Bond.[6] Esquire Magazine ranked Whitaker #16 in the list of James Bond Villains, saying, "He's loud, obnoxious, and crass, played with sleazy southern charm by Joe Don Baker. He may have been kicked out of West Point, but hey, the arms dealing business has given him access to all the guns and violence he could possibly want."[7]

Gallery

Trivia

References

  1. Brad Whitaker. Mi6-hq.com. Retrieved on 11 December 2012.
  2. Rubin, Steven Jay (2003). The complete James Bond movie encyclopedia. Contemporary Books, 476. ISBN 978-0-07-141246-9. Retrieved on 11 December 2012. 
  3. Black, Jeremy (2005). The Politics Of James Bond: From Fleming's Novels To The Big Screen. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 150. ISBN 978-0-8032-6240-9. Retrieved on 11 December 2012. 
  4. Joe Don Baker. Inside The Living Daylights [DVD]. MGM Home Entertainment.
  5. Simpson, Paul (2002). The Rough Guide to James Bond: The Films, the Novels, the Villains. Rough Guides, 1. ISBN 978-1-84353-142-5. Retrieved on 11 December 2012. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 (1 April 2003) The Essential Bond: The Authorized Guide to the World of 007. Channel Four Books, 153. ISBN 978-0-7522-1562-4. Retrieved on 11 December 2012. 
  7. Jacob Hall. "All 104 James Bond Villains, Ranked", 14 May 2017. Retrieved on 2018-07-18. 
  8. "The making of The Living Daylights: Charles Helfenstein Podcast123" James Bond Radio

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