There is a point in Spectre, after the first snow-based chase sequence of Daniel Craig’s tenure, when Bond confronts Madeline Swann, having rescued her from the bad guys. She asks: ‘Why should I trust you?’ before a clearly exasperated Bond replies ‘Because right now I’m your best chance of staying alive.’ The audience already knows this is 007’s love interest, that you don’t chase a blonde across the snow and destroy millions of pounds worth of plane and Land Rovers unless you’re clearly indebted to the woman you’re pursuing, and here in one beautiful exchange is my entire problem with this film. It looks fabulous, contains all the elements that should be in a Bond film… except not one made in 2015. This is so obviously a love letter to Bond’s past, and the criminal organisation that gives the film its name also condemns the whole thing to become, in the end, a worrying parody of it’s own genre. Because while Mike Myers made Austin Powers a beautiful pastiche of everything 1960’s including Bond, Sam Mendes makes this 007’s outing a mirror of all the faults that keep the secret agent the way a certain generation of men will always remember him: tortured, brilliant, invulnerable and ultimately hollow.
What makes this saddest of all is that the two and a bit minute trailer for the movie I saw back in the early part of last year is actually a better presentation of the plot than the movie ends up itself being, because once you know that twist, you’re done: its Game Over. When it becomes apparent who Christopher Wentz is? You know how this will conclude. There is no surprise, or amazement, and everything becomes almost embarrassingly predictable. From the ridiculous set pieces to the record breaking explosions and the beautifully composed tableaux, it is all pointless when you know why Wentz is there, and instead of the homage to 23 other movies I suspect Mendes sold this as, you get an almost depressing understanding of where everything is heading. I thought I knew this Bond, I watched him get his 00 designation. I shouted at the screen when a colleague shot him and happily accepted his return from the dead, but when it became apparent her surname was Moneypenny? This path was already laid, and I was annoyed with Mendes, an anger that actually surprised me. All that hard work in two and a bit movies to build Bond as a tenable and acceptable 21st century reboot was removed in a five or so minutes of clunky and ill-conceived lip service at the end of Skyfall to a Spy who should have been left dead and buried in the 1970’s. But no, the World loves Bond. Misogynistic, womanising, invulnerable Bond. Shame on you for using Naomi Harris to do this, too, for just so many reasons. Women clearly give up everything for Bond, happy to be demoted from Field Agent to glorified PA without a line of real or believable dialogue. Oh, give me a fucking break.
Some of us can see right through you, 007.
Spectre is a disappointment, even more when I see how great the British press thought it was. It is almost as if nobody will ever diss James as he’s clearly a national treasure: after all, he jumped out of an aeroplane with the Queen in 2012. It doesn’t matter how earnest you make the relationship with Swann, it’s a joke, because she leaves him in Act 3 and you’re just holding your head in your hands, because if there’s still X minutes left everybody knows she’ll be back. It’s as if this script was written by a bunch of men who understood just how far they could push the envelope and no more, that what really should have transpired wouldn’t have made for a suitable homage anyway because Bond can do no wrong. Monologuing your bad guy works when he has you tied to a chair attacking your exposed genitalia. It becomes less acceptable on his personal Island surrounded by clearly cosmetic server units, and when you reach the stark stylised nature of your deserted desert based lair? Sorry, but no. We had three movies that actually presented a secret agent with a relevance to the 21st century. This means the pre-credits sequence for Bond 25 will either be breaking Bloefeld out of jail so he can spend two and a bit hours being all menacing, or Eon will see sense and actually break the mould. Because with all the interest in an Oscars ceremony where a complete absence of diversity in the film industry is becoming more and more difficult to dismiss?
This franchise doesn’t need another white, male Bond on a reboot. I’m really hoping Daniel Craig is done with 007, because if he walks away now I’ll maintain the respect he granted me by making Bond finally be the James I thought worked best, who I as a woman could actually believe had a soul. I’ll forgive him about 70% of Spectre where he’s clearly only doing what the script told him to do, and remember the broken man who picked up Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd from the wreckage of the house she died in, and made me cry for the first time ever in a Bond movie. Because then, 007 was real and brilliant and now he’s become a parody of a parody.
You really need to give Idris Elba or Tilda Swinton the designation. Tom Hiddleston won’t do, and if you pick an unknown white guy again? NOPE. The only way I could see you saving this whole sorry mess is giving it to the BBC and letting them take 007 to Television. You want to keep people happy when you do?
Make Bond openly bisexual.
Yeah, that would work.