A Swan Song for Bond and Britain
So it ends. And somehow fittingly. Bond dies, torn to shreds by missiles. Bowing out from saving the world that has moved on and despises him. His peers raise a hollow glass knowing they too will fade slowly from history. Like the sun setting on the Empire the dream that once was is gone.
This world was not worth saving but Bond saved it anyway. The ultimate sacrifice the white man can make is to gracefully bow out. Clear the stage for the strong black woman and her double-0 status. Bond too dies knowing his lover kept their child secret from him, denying the child the right to know her father as so many children are today. Even up to the last moment they barely squeeze in this fact, spun by a deceitful self absorbed female character. No men required in this vision of the future, well just the ones we can hoist as bad ‘good guys’.
Mallory of course is the arrogant one here. His attempt at a bio-weapon to make assassination clean caused this mess. The hyper-realism nod to the reality of genetically encoded viral warfare was spooky but of course we now live in a world where that is true. This is just primer for when it happens, or when they decide to finally agree that SARS-COV-2 was a lab leaked virus. One of the few surprises was that the (still) white establishment didn’t get more kicks in the teeth in this Bond film but likely they opted for more elaborate gunplay scenes.
You can tell gunplay today as pre and post John Wick. Our femme-fatale saves Bond with some slickly directed action that was basically lifted directly from the Wick franchise. Except of course in the new Bond world it is performed by a forgettable but oddly competent Latina. This was one of the many politically correct nods that itself felt out of date even so caught up in staying current the film was.
Poor Q was next. A nerdy man of his disposition of course must be a homosexual! I was surprised to not spy a lingering camera shot resting on a portrait of Turing or a reference made but perhaps I was not paying close enough attention. The homosexual inclusion ticked neatly off the film swung on. The jazz band playing as all the world crumbles. Except we aren’t quite lucky enough to be witnessing the collapse of Weimar again, just watching the fading light leave what remains of the British empire.
Bond was always that symbol you see, a symbol of something in decline but fighting the good fight no matter what. The Cold War of course made it easy but nothing is easy anymore, the black and white replaced by grey but also irrelevancy. It’s somehow quaint to imagine the British in this Bond universe where they are somehow important, what once was. Quaint too is the almost kitsch surreality to elements of this final franchise play. Where Casino Royale felt rooted in something of reality here we are back to the bad guys ‘Spectre’ meeting up at lavish parties in Cuba! The driving sequences and combat also somehow feel dated, they didn’t all get the Wick treatment and there is almost this whimsical nature to some of it. Bond and his cohorts will patrol silently with gun sights trained but as soon as the shooting starts and we’re back to hip holding and one armed rifle shots of great accuracy. Charmingly stupid.
Maybe this is finally the end, it had a genuine sad tinge at the end. Bond obliterated from a world that no longer cares about his place in it, that mocks the very idea of the tradition of his famous numbers as having any meaning. No, this like our world is one where meaning is driven from the room and only begrudgingly acknowledged when it becomes impossible not to. Then the moment passes and we’re straight back into doublethink and denial. Bond was a cultural artifact. Fleming may not quite turn in his grave but his confusion would be palpable. This world is done with Bond and he with it.