The Bond franchise churns on with plot gimmicks, gadgets, a vague imperialism, British nationalism, and yet another manufactured creepo bad guy whom no one will miss once dispensed with.
I first caught Bond’s circus at 3 or 4. Parents were fans, as my mother is British and any kind of UK culture was welcomed in. So Thunderball or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service may have been the very first serious films I saw. Serious here means aimed at adults. Thunderball dealt with stolen nuclear warheads before it was cool. That’s a pretty serious matter.
I can think of two nuclear warheads that the US “lost” just off the top of my head. One was in Greenland (1968), the other off the coast of Georgia (1958). One may long for James Bond’s competence and foresight, to clean up some of these ridiculous messes.
Lately I’ve grown tired of James, as you can see it’s taken a while to get around to this installment. Call me a blasphemer, but my favorite Bond was Roger Moore! He had the most fun doing it, and those films came at an impressionable age. So, as long as the world approves of spy-ploitation, and they show up to watch it, let’s see what they’re peddling this time out.
The title sequence, usually known for its abstract brilliance and hot chick silhouettes, was among the most laughable in history. From the terrible song to the pathetic exploitation, including Daniel Craig, it’s a new low.
The film opens with some big-budget recklessness, threatening a large Mexico City crowd of innocent bystanders with an out of control helicopter. One hopes the film didn’t actually risk those people’s lives for its stunts. This would throw into question which side of Spectre the filmmakers are on.
The remorseless killer and anachronistic misogyny are what you’ve come to expect from Bond, although the PC age has toned it down. But not as much as you might think. He practically rapes the widow of the guy he just murdered, but it’s okay since she’s so easily hypnotized by proper English bullying that she climaxes before Bond has a chance to rip off her dress.
But James is after the Illuminati, called out as the “New World Order.” Spectre is the Eyes Wide Shut business wing. Bond walks right in, makes himself conspicuous, and runs away from the entire Spectre mob–very unBond like. Sort of an excuse for a massive info dump come to think of it, but better than the agreeable rape romance novel stuff anyway, I suppose.
Spectre makes some decent points about infinite surveillance and the untrustworthiness of the government itself. While the series has been forward-thinking this particular thread is about 20 years late of being prescient. Better late than never. MI6 and Bond are made the target of enhanced surveillance by competing agencies, like NSA vs. CIA. An obvious false flag terror event helps to sell the ever-increasing global surveillance regime.
This latest Bond has the annoying tendency to march right into the bad guy’s nest, swingin’ dick style, not once, not twice, but three times! Or was it four? There’s over the top, but what happened to skulduggery and your basic sneaking around? Has Bond decided he’s just so invincible it just doesn’t matter anymore how he bothers to confront the bad guys? Everyone just knows he’s going to prevail?
Other than a decent brawl on a train, Bourne style, the film is more comedic than tense. It has the Mission Impossible sidekick crew, the cheezy inside jokes concerning old tropes, but so much levity renders it on the wrong side of silly.
Spectre manages a firework show at the end and then perpetrates an insidious, dark bit of propaganda that disgusted me. The heavy is crashed and stuck there on a bridge, going nowhere. All tied up, they have the whole London police department ready to arrest the guy. But no. He is, in fact, not arrested at all.
Instead MI6 guy announces that he’s “detaining” him under some special act that came out of 2001. Rather than democracy, rather than the rule of law, he’s being taken into a black hole of lawlessness, the security state, as if that was a legitimate thing to do. The end of Spectre attempts to legitimize the “black site” lawlessness of the unaccountable intelligence establishment.
There was no reason to avoid arresting the guy and trying him in court. There are actual laws against terrorism. But no. That’s not the message the people behind Spectre wish to impart. Instead they put in a plug for a system of unaccountable torture and murder that has already gone several steps toward destroying Constitutional governance and sending us back into pre-Enlightenment times.