Plot in twenty words or less: The world’s intelligence services are duped into a global surveillance system run by an international crime syndicate.
How it’s aged: Spectre only came out in 2015, and it certainly seems quite contemporary (surveillance technology – specifically DRONES! – and signal intelligence as a replacement for human intelligence). But in the context of watching this again post-Brexit and the entire upside-down chaos of the last couple years, M’s awkward (and overly-romantic) defense of the 00-program as not just a superior approach to intelligence, but as a bulwark against the anti-democratic surveillance state seems a little…. dubious, to me.
At the same time, it is pretty interesting and a bit subversive by Bond standards that the movie makes the point that surveillance states play into the hands of terrorists – and in this case, it’s the terrorist organization that is designing and selling the global intelligence system that M’s nemesis, C, is hellbent on strong-arming the world’s superpowers into using for international intelligence sharing.
I forget whether I’ve discussed this in previous posts, but there are some intriguing theories around what the Bond series represents as a multi-decade cultural phenomenon, and my favorite one is that Bond represents the end of the British empire. As a post-colonial power, what is Britain’s role in the world? How does Bond personify that? Following this line of thinking, the depersonalization of intelligence apparatus from that of a white guy with a license to kill to a fleet of drones (also with a license to kill) doesn’t represent The Future Departing From The Past so much as it represents The Past Dressed Up as The Future.
Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: When Bond and Dr Swann break into the secret room in the Americain Inn in Tangier and find the old ~*~*~DUSTY~*~*~ satellite phone computer console…how….did it….power….up? I love how in movies old electronic devices just TURN RIGHT ON, if that happened in my life as a digital archivist, my life would be much easier.
Obligatory feminist commentary: Bond starts out the movie on a mission sent from beyond-the-grave-Judi-Dench’s-M, and would not have been able to complete critical parts without assistance from Moneypenny and Dr Swann. There is a pretty excruciating scene at the end where Blofeld taunts 007 in front of Dr Swann that every woman he’s loved in his recent life has died, which I’m sure you can spin out somehow into the aforementioned symbolism of Bond-as-postcolonial-symbolism.
Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: Not at all hypothetical, but Sam Mendes seems to be keeping up the tradition of throwback Bond references. The most obvious one in this movie was Blofeld’s mean looking white cat. But I was scratching my head because I think there was another movie back in the day where Bond and a female guest were essentially prisoners in a hotel and given special clothes to wear.
Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: When Bond and Dr Swann jumped out of the old MI6 headquarters, how the hell was there such a convenient net at the bottom to break their fall?!?!
Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: It’s been a while since we had a good alpine scene in a Bond movie. I thoroughly enjoyed the updating of it by Q working on his laptop in a ski lift – the only thing he was missing were some hex stickers.
Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: Spectre made a comeback because Eon finally settled an intellectual property claim case around its use. Also, the opening scene with the giant parade in Mexico City is pretty incredible and made me miss New Orleans’ parade culture like crazy, but according to the ‘pedia, no such central Día de Muertos parade existed in Mexico City until the city officials capitalized on Spectre and put one on in 2016 (!!)
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