Did he take time to think about his quip and ignore—for even a second—the threat to his life? No. We are all endowed with massive brains that never stop assessing/multiprocessing all incoming sensory details, whether conscious of them or not. The need to survive is closely tied to the need to mate.
Is what he says fiction? Yep. Just like what you write for eager readers. But is there truth in his actions and words? We can’t all be ready with one-liners but our heroes and heroines can. They represent the best within us.
Why do we have a need to survive and what are we surviving for? We survive to celebrate the true meaning of life. Congratulations romance writers, you are on top of this. No other genre is more poignant. Although Bond tries to avoid commitment, he sports a perfect excuse. His job is too dangerous, so we forgive him. Maybe, we hope, he secretly yearns for a normal life and someone to love.
There’s a hero and heroine on a motorcycle, in a jungle, with hardly any clothes. She’s clinging to his back. Bullets are flying. Remembering how she looked when he rescued her and how she feels now, he’ll mutter. “It’s bad day to die.”
You may ask how can he think about sex at a time like this. He’s not really. He wants to save her so he can mate her, and so life goes on. Of course, heroes and heroines save for other reasons, but they all spring out of a love of live and a need to share.
Do women assess men when in danger? Of course. They’re hard wired, in a different way than men. They may not know it consciously, but it’s there in your interior monologue, if only for a fleeting moment.