A pointless press conference reveals the 25th Bond film in turmoil
The surest indicator for a wretched movie (other than “Written and Directed by Sean Penn”) is a press conference held by filmmakers who admit they’ve started to film without a title and, more troublesome, a final shooting script. Such has been the shaky foundation of Gigli (no doubt an adaptation of a Dostoyevsky story). Many years earlier, rumors surfaced that Sinbad’s First Kid (based on a tale from the Arabian Nights) also suffered from the same mire. In this spirit, the last three Bond movies, as chronicled laboriously during their releases, plunged into development hell. And now, almost five years since the idiotic Spectre, we find the same tormented approach from Eon Productions—purveyor of the 007 film empire—as we turn our attention toward whatever the hell a 25th Bond film is.
With the speed of events, it’s an uphill battle for the producers to compete against the force of forgetting, regardless of how special the press conference was intended. The five-year gap essentially eroded the relevance of Bond while the successful Mission: Impossible films—highly praised spy thrillers and very Bondian in tone and atmosphere—simply eclipsed the series. Moreover, scheduling the press conference on the day when 99.99% of the news wires were focused on Joe Biden’s presidential bid and the mammoth opening of Avengers: Endgames only reinforced the misery. It’s not surprising, then, that Eon’s gig was lackluster and low-key, even signaling a tired feel to the whole damn enterprise. The powers-that-be held it, I believe, in Jamaica on April 25 or 26 (it happened about two months ago—how could anyone remember the exact date!). Aptly enough, producer Barbara Broccoli and her cohorts were on the grounds of Goldeneye, the once vacation retreat of the long-forgotten Ian Fleming. Here the press conference was live streamed across the social media realm, if anybody truly cared: the relevance of Fleming resides only within the parochial sphere of the Bondian kingdom, his name tagged onto the franchise for contractual reasons and vaguely recognized by moviegoers who, we can be nearly certain, are indifferent to his writings.
The press conference spanned about twenty minutes. The key takeaway: with no title and a script now developed ad hoc while filming occurs, the Bond makers could not be specific in their responses, which meant they hand nothing to share—hence, they had nothing to say. It was, in essence, a futile press conference, an exercise in meaninglessness that points to a franchise in disorder. But during those twenty minutes, the director (what’s his name), the aloof cast, Madam Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother and co-producer (a decrepit Michael G. Wilson) sat on the veranda and managed to babble nonsense through crappy, low-fidelity streaming audio—a perfect symbol for their useless chatter. There are not enough lightning bolts in heaven to cover all the falsehoods in their discussions; but the court eunuchs (the clueless press corps summoned to this wreck) just accepted all the drivel, reinforcing this spectacle of futility.
I believe it was Madam Barbara who delved into a bit of Fleming history, citing that the author started the first James Bond novel 57 years ago. Right away, astute Bond fans cringed from hearing her remark: not to be punctilious, your Majesty of the 007 film empire, but Master Ian wrote the first 007 novel, Casino Royale, 67 years ago in 1952. The film series, on the other hand, began 57 years ago in 1962 with Dr. No, thanks to the entrepreneurial efforts of your late father Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and his then-business partner Harry Saltzman. It is, of course, a minor tidbit to keep in mind, especially when your father had such a minor impact to the franchise you’ve inherited.
It was all downhill from that gaffe. Discussions essentially highlighted the mindlessness of the filmmakers, which gave a wider view of the disorder within their kingdom. Michael G. Wilson tossed in some odd remarks, which I had to rewind a few times to grasp what had happened to this longtime figure in the franchise. He proclaimed that Craig delved into the Fleming novels “from time to time for inspiration” and that, from a development standpoint, they’ve all strived to stay “very true to the character [of Bond].” Ah, yes, the old claptrap about harking back to Fleming! And of course, Fleming would have wanted nothing more than the gay-friendly Bond that Eon has been presenting since the unnecessary reboot in 2006 with Casino Royale.  What Wilson didn’t say is that it’s been practically zilch on the stay-true-to-Fleming front: Craig's portrayal of a grumbler, pouting as he travels around the world, hinting at his homosexual repressions, is so removed from the manly brooding of Fleming's Bond—a burned-out secret agent who delves into life and women (hence, the 007 high-style of living) to seek refuge from his cold violent world. Therefore, connect the actor’s disregard of the literary character to the twisted interpretations in the screenplays of late and we get the impression that Craig and the Eon brass lack deep intention to hark back to the original books—which explains why they had boldly ridiculed the character, quite spectacularly, in Brokeback Skyfall.
This is the most damaging film in the series, considering how they had presented the Craig-Bond with a I’m-probably-truly-gay revelation just as the villain Raoul Silva manhandles him in a very homoerotic way. How does a highly-trained secret agent deal with such a situation? Oh, just savor the encounter and even point out, rather nonchalantly, “What makes you think this is my first time?” Thus, he calls into question his own sexuality, even implying he's grappling with a sexual identity crisis. It was enough for the filmmakers to subvert the traditional Bondian image of dashing masculinity, first established in those original 007 books (oh, the horror!), and glorified in the hyper-masculine alpha male we find in Dr. No. Cubby Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Terence Young, and Richard Maibaum gave us the machismo Connery, the template essentially used by Craig’s predecessors; but in the rebooted series, we get a new man (Wimpus Sentimentalis)—an effete whiner, who might as well be gay, with an orphaned childhood that needs to be explicated to generate sympathy.  These are crucial elements that supposedly unveil what makes this Bond the way he is, although the ultimate effect of this scheme is the feeling of a made-for-TV melodrama we find in a typical Lifetime movie-of-the-week. By contrast, in the books, Fleming practically had zero interest in the biographical details of the character. The most we get is a brief sketch, under the guise of an obituary, in the 1964 novel You Only Live Twice, which leaves the impression, as M states, of a man “solitary by nature” (150). This glaring discrepancy between the two approaches speaks volumes of how disordered the film series has become.
Wilson claimed their adherence to Fleming has helped fuel the franchise’s perseverance. The chance of his statement’s accuracy resides somewhere in the 1-in-a-million to 1-in-821700 range. The Fleming name, as I alluded earlier, has no importance whatsoever to mainstream audiences, most of whom had not read a word from those old Bond tales. Of course, Wilson was in PR mode, glorifying the series in any way. But his statement does make us wonder if the producer also truly believed every word? I’ve always admired this gatekeeper of the Bond films: an accomplished man, Michael G. Wilson has a background in electrical engineering, international law, screenwriting, and professional photography—the latter extending into his role as a collector of rare photographs that he lends to museums. Sad to say, at the press conference, the more he spoke, the more he appeared a confused old man, out of step with today’s Hollywood, his frail presence reflecting the tired state of the 007 series.
The idle chatter bobbed along, as weightless and inconsequential as a leaf falling gently underneath a mango tree. Yet there was time enough for the proclamation that everyone summoned to this film were artists extraordinaire. Consider the pedigree of the cast members introduced: the usual nondescript international actors best recognized as That Person, That Other Person, and that Other Person Over There.
I kid, of course. The cast is full of “big names.” After all, Eon did manage to haul in Grace Jones for a cameo—yeah, man, a 90-year-old Grace Jones is an effective way to mobilize the snowflake generation to see this film. And we mustn’t forget Jeffrey Wright, who no one remembers as Felix Leiter in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Why his return has been heralded with glee is ridiculous, considering that his total screen time in the two films is about eight minutes. Still, it was quite an accomplishment for Eon to lure the actor away from his arduous schedule of muttering anti-Trump polemics on Twitter. The producers must be congratulated for that, if for nothing else than their desperate attempt to enliven such a moribund film production.
In addition, consider the ensemble of potent box-office draws such as Dali Benssalah, Lashana Lynch, Ana De Armas, David Dencik and, if that is not enough, Billy Magnussen. They offer the same screen charisma as the cast of Xena: Warrior Princess. Even the disinterested look of Lea Seydoux, during the Q&A session, was smoldering with such magnetism. She is, of course, reprising her role as The Bored Woman From Spectre. This time around, her screen time will be a generous 14 minutes because director What’s-His-Name is eager to explore her character: “I just knew a little about her” in SPECTRE,” he said in a recent interview for Cinema Today, “and I thought I had something more to say about her.” Presumably, he intends to present a backstory, so we can marvel at how this character (who nobody cares about) was shaped into the person we see. This is the all-important superhero approach to character development: to see the origin of a character, regardless of how trivial the role. No character should be left behind: think of the potential gem in Grace Jones’s cameo—at last, we may see the origin of her character, too.
Likewise, with newcomer Ana De Armas, a Cuban model who, inevitably, will be flaunted for her beauty and, most likely, bumped off by the villain as the traditional doomed Bond girl. What the director, Mr. Anonymous, can possibly do to present an interesting character in approximately 3.5 seconds of screen time remains to be seen. The actress herself, in an awkward moment at the PR event, admitted she hadn’t started to prepare for the role: “I don’t know how that’s gonna go,” she said, looking at the director. “Cary any suggestion?” Director What’s-His-Name, who apparently has a first name, offered some wisdom: “We’ll have to play it by ear.” Ah, so comforting! Here we are with a gazillion dollar film production, and this “Cary” chap—the director—intends to “wing it” in terms of developing one of the characters. This suggests that Ms. De Armas was cast before the character was created, or fully written, a testament once again to the disorder of the production. Even more disturbing about the character is how in hell this Cary chap presents, with taste, this business of Old-Dude-Beds-Young-Babe. Picture, if you will, a craggy Daniel Craig at age 51. However, Ms. De Armas was born at least 18 minutes ago. Because I want to eat again in my lifetime, I shall not delve into the inevitable seduction scene. Suffice to say, it would be like witnessing a 148-year-old tortoise attempting to woo a butterfly.
Rounding out the cast is Rami Malik, who couldn’t be bothered to attend the event. Then again, everyone in this wired world knew about his involvement well before the press conference. The actor appeared in a pre-recorded message wherein he said nothing substantial. Speculation of his role points to the main villain. If so, he joins the recent pantheon of greasy effeminate non-threatening villains in the Craig tenure. I’ve seen the actor in other roles, and his persona suggests he’s about as menacing as a tulip. But, hey, that’s quite the arty symmetry with Craig’s whiny effeminate Bond. This will be a hallmark in the glorious dramatic works of Western civilization.
Of course, Madam Barbara reveres the script: it is, after all, sheer genius, a patchwork from motley writers, each essentially fired and replaced by another, leaving the story to be developed as filmmaking proceeds. In other words, make up the story as you film. The Madam Producer had learned this technique from Mike Tyson in a master seminar known as Secret Technique to Action Films: Use It for Direct-to-Video Fame. Fortunately, she did manage to provide a plot teaser: inspired by Rudyard Kipling, or rather old Batfink cartoons, the premise has something to do with the Craig-Bond (a renegade agent once again) and his secluded life in Jamaica getting interrupted by his longtime CIA pal Felix Leiter. Apparently, during a world-threatening situation, the CIA is impelled to turn to this has-been geriatric British agent who has a habit of bailing on MI6. But then, this is the CIA—one need only look at the quality of its personnel, such as ex-chief John Brennan, to realize that such incompetence, as implied in this teaser, is expected. Fortunately, in a dramatic twist (the kind you’d get in HGTV’s Property Brothers), the Craig-Bond takes the offer. The catalyst for his change of heart, we can only guess, is that he got tired of the local rum and steel drum bands. Thus, urged by old man Leiter, this old man Craig-Bond embarks on a mission to “rescue a kidnapped scientist” who just happens “to be far more treacherous than expected," leading the Craig-Bond onto "the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.”
Please do not ask me the name of the kidnapped scientist, or what the “dangerous new technology” happens to be. These are inscrutable questions that even the filmmakers would not be able to answer—because the final shooting script remains to be written! Since the film’s go-signal, there had been at least seven writers brought on board, including the ousted Danny Boyle and his screenwriter John Hodges, and a supposedly brief stint from Paul Haggis. Hurled onto this merry-go-round are the “official” writers, as announced at the press conference: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, all of whom we had known beforehand, thanks to the rapid circulation of info on the web. However, reports from the Jamaican set, most notably from Baz Bamigboye for the Daily Mail, reveal that the script is undergoing cycles of rewrites by the director (“What’s his name?” people keep asking me), Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Craig himself. The crew, when pressed, have remained enthusiastic, proclaiming “they’re working on a well-polished s*** show.” Ah, yes, just the words to comfort studio executives and financiers of this film. Yet in my very own humble business analysis, only a moron would not realize that something is rotten in the state of Bondom. For the shenanigans of an unfinished script, at this late stage, only underscore the meaninglessness of Eon’s attempt at another Bond film.
I hesitate to comment on the lack of a title because concocting one with a striking Flemingesque flair is challenging. But on this matter, Michael G. Wilson stepped in to offer another cringe-worthy falsehood: “I can’t remember the last time we had a title when we announced the beginning of the film. It’s a tradition now.” Again, he was in full PR mode but, unfortunately, it’s an idiotic talking point that essentially erases the history of his own franchise—in the past, Eon had always revealed the title during the press conference. Moreover, Wilson’s comment reveals another meaningless thing: just as this PR event in Jamaica struggles to make the entire Bond series relevant, the producer thrust it all into forgetting through an absurd statement. What a contradiction! His statement rewrote, if you will, all the previous press conferences, erasing their significance, including the tradition of announcing the title, from human memory as if all the Bond films of yore are worthless and unimportant. Meanwhile, the court eunuchs (again, the useless press corp) never bothered to challenge Wilson’s contradiction and therefore accepted the producer’s explanation by default—an act that helped fuel this amnesia so that ultimately everyone in the room had let all those previous PR events be forgotten.
“Why didn’t they announce the title?” a Bond fan wrote. “Do you really believe they don’t have one, or are they just stalling because they have some working titles but haven’t decided on a final one?” I lean towards the latter. But the frustration from fans is understandable: it’s distressing that after five years since Spectre: My Dumbfukin Brother, the filmmakers came empty handed—at their own blasted press conference! Yet if the producers are undecided on some working titles, then the writers, it would seem, haven’t offered at least one decent title worthy of product branding. To muddle this dilemma, a report surfaced in early spring, alluding to an obscure entry at Mandy.com (a job site for creative professionals), where the title was listed as Eclipse. I personally was hoping that the new film would be entitled New Moon To A Kill; but Eon seems to be paying glorious homage to the 2010 film The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. That film featured a furry slobbering brute, the method actor Taylor Lautner, but I understand there is also a werewolf in the film. Still, why Eon would emulate the title of this Twilight film remains a mystery. The company has also remained silent about this “discovery” and, strangely enough, the title has since been removed from the site. Fans, however, noticed that the production company listed was B25 Productions, which is “the entity set up by EON to produce the next Bond film” (Sheperd). The producers seemed to be taken aback by this leak, perhaps even frustrated that fans uncovered the title, and their silence suggests they didn’t know how to address this gaffe at the press conference. There are no secrets in a wired world, where information is readily uncovered and shared; but Eon seems to be out of touch with this hard truth—another element that points to how outdated the company has become as it wallows in disorder.
Take, for example, the proposed locations: it was quite the yawner when the filmmakers announced Norway, Jamaica, and Matera, Italy. In early April, photos of the Norway set were published on the web; and speculation about Jamaica had been brewing for some time. The Italian locale will most likely serve as backdrop for a fast-paced action scene, so no one will even notice the town. At any rate, the exotic locations are becoming less and less distinct in these Bond films: with the steady dosage of noisy CGI-enhanced stunt sequences shoved into our senses, the new film, just as the other Craigian Bond films, promises to be annoying and frustrating in the same way an invasive pest burrows into your ear and proceeds to feast on your senses. The point is, at the press conference, the producers ought to have said, “Everyone already knows where we’ll be filming, so let’s take a ten-minute break. In fact, we don’t have anything noteworthy to share, so where’s the best place for a drink?”
At the center of this circus of blather is, of course, Daniel “Chin Tuck” Craig. True to his word, the actor jumped back onto the 007 gravy train for no other reason than the cash grab, as he bitterly proclaimed in that now infamous bizarre interview with Time Out magazine. The five year gap since Spectre did not treat him well: ever more grizzled, with accentuated age lines, and clad in a dark suit and white sneakers, Craig resembled the retired geezers I see at the park, who wear running shoes with slacks. A blizzard of emails landed in my inbox as fans vented anger that he now looked too old for the role, with his face looking fuller and his hairpiece not close fitting. Ah, but my brethren, the chap had always looked too old for the role. Apart from a segment of savvy Bond fans who questioned his suitability for the role back in 2005, many of you tolerated, even defended, his casting and never expressed the slightest bit of curiosity as to how or why his mug—as blown up on the big screen in Casino Royale—resembled a rock formation. Yet the underlying theme I sensed in all of these complaints is the fan outrage at the actor’s blatant disrespect for the role: Craig, as the front end of the franchise, failed to look presentable at this PR event; instead, we got an actor who looked heavier by at least 15 pounds, with a demeanor that suggested he had just stepped out of a pub and could barely stay awake during the gig. Again, based on emails I've received, fans wondered if it was just the post-Spectre weight that creeped up on him because the new film was languishing in development? My own theory is that Ol’ One Expression Danny got a high speed internet service in his New York condo and spent each day on his couch watching streaming videos and eating Digiorno Rising Crust Pizzas. Nevertheless, the mandate from fans is clear: have a shave, dear boy, and button your shirt properly. And do wear appropriate shoes with your suit, and slap on a tie—you're a mature man, for heavens sake, and you represent the most famous film series in cinema history. As it is, Craig—just as producer Wilson had done—gave the impression of a tired series bogged down in disorder.
His answers during the Q&A session were no less redeeming. If anything, they exposed the lack of direction that has plagued his tenure. Questions were hurled from the social media realm, but the endeavor was meaningless: why even bother to ask Craig any question? After all, Mr. Live and Let Gripe doesn’t give a shit because his intention is clear: to you PhD candidates, it means he’s only back for the hefty payday, as he stated in that Time Out interview. Nonetheless, the most laughable question concerned the appeal of the films and why the series has spanned 25 movies? It was posed by a "Brian" in the USA, most likely a PR plant (as some of my email correspondents have speculated) because such a trite question has been scrutinized to a dreary and laborious extent over the years. In his response, Craig rambled for almost a minute, emphasizing that he and his fellow creatives made an effort to distinguish his films from other action movies. It was an explanation full of sound and fury, signifying bullshit. The fact that he even spoke with a straight face is in itself maniacally funny. For why in hell did director Sam Mendes admit during the production of Brokeback Skyfall that he was deliberately emulating the Batmanesque dark imagery established by Christopher Nolan? And why have the producers blatantly applied the trendy cinematography of other films? Take, for example, the swooping camera work obviously lifted from Alejandro Iñárritu’s Birdman, as showcased in the Spectre pre-credits; or the choppy, rapid-fire close-up action shots of the Bourne films, as replicated in Quantum Of Solace. Moreover, why have the producers harked back to obvious homages to famous sequences in previous Bond films? And why did they latch onto the reboot-origin-story motif of so many superhero films? The only "fresh" thing Craig and the filmmakers had done to his films was introduce a hero with gay tendencies—and even this angle isn't entirely original. George Clooney had already gone down this path with his take of Batman in the Joel Schumacher kitsch disaster Batman and Robin: "Think about it," he explains to Barbara Walters, “I was in a rubber suit. I had rubber nipples. I could have played him straight but I didn’t. I made him gay.” Another circle, in the Craig tenure, is complete: Craig's Bond shares with Clooney's Batman the same approach to resetting—and degrading—an established character. Thus, contrary to what Craig has asserted, nothing sets his films apart from others, although the ineptitude of their approach, we should note, surpasses the big screen reinterpretation of Baywatch.
This business of degradation has extended into the filming in Jamaica. Since the press conference, news from the set has depicted chaos, not just from the constant rewrites, but from an allegedly arrogant Craig who has somehow gotten the conviction that he is master and commander and therefore pesters the cast and crew with diva-like hysterics. Even lesser known publications have latched onto this revelation. Note the headline from BarStool Sports, a sports and pop culture blog:
Bond 25 Is Apparently Taking Forever Because Daniel Craig Is Throwing Temper Tantrums, Has A Chef That Will Only Cook For Him
Of course, the rags paint the portrait of an asshole. From Page Six:
“Everyone on the production side detests working with Daniel, he’s so difficult and makes things impossible. But [Bond producer] Barbara Broccoli thinks he walks on water, and only her opinion matters.”
What hath King Daniel done? Could this even be the same actor who had sashayed in tiny light blue swimming trunks, in Casino Royale, as he emerged from the Caribbean breakers? Is this the same actor with the uncanny resemblance to one Vladmir Putin? The stellar traits parade before us: The muscles from Cheshire. The overrated actor who, as The Anointed One, “defies his generation of actors.” Ardent supporter of senile socialist Bernie Sanders. No taller than your average gibbon. Evidently, he's all of the these things and, if accounts are to be believed, a thoroughly loathsome individual. Sad to say, his involvement points to a deeper problem in the franchise: the distasteful outlook of a certain producer who has held the actor on a leash and cannot let go. As she had confirmed, Craig has been integral in the development of his Bond films:
"He's so much a part of the whole process, we'll make a great movie and then see what happens [in terms of his future as 007].”
Alas, from the Madam Producer herself: the decadent direction the series has taken in Craig’s tenure is, in large part, caused by the actor. He has a lot to answer for; namely the soap-operatic kitsch and the PC self-consciousness that have flavored his films—and, ultimately, degraded the series. Just before the press conference, a flurry of reports revealed that it was Craig’s decision to bring feminist playwright and performer Phoebe Waller-Bridge on board to revamp the script. The predominantly leftist media hailed her involvement as a big win for the production, even noting that she—in the wake of Johanna Harwood’s work on Dr. No and From Russia With Love—would be “the second female writer ever to join the ranks of a Bond creative team” (Vain). Once again, not to be pedagogic, but another woman had achieved this distinction many years ago. Dana Stevens, though uncredited, had took over the script of The World Is Not Enough during its development. It’s chronicled neatly in the film’s book tie-in, The Word Is Not Enough: A Companion. Author Iain Johnstone notes that in a span of three weeks, Ms. Stevens completed two drafts, primarily rewriting the Electra character and the climax between her and Judi Dench’s M. Moreover, director Michael Apted, who was married to the writer at the time, acknowledges her contribution to the script:
We then realized we had to go further, suddenly Bond was second banana here and Electra and M were taking over the film. . . . We are very lucky: the boys [Neal Purvis and Robert Wade] did the story, Dana did the women and Bruce [Feirstein] did the Bond. (Johnstone 35)
Ah, the collective amnesia! In this grand march to praise female empowerment, the media had never bothered to scrutinize the history of the films. Even more strange: the Bond producers had never bothered to emphasize Dana Stevens’ work during all this hullabaloo over Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In their silence, along with the silent negligence of the media, they’ve allowed a bit of Bondian past to be forgotten. From a bigger perspective, nobody (as I see it) truly cares about the past. The past is a foggy realm of no interest to anyone. All that matters is the present and how we can manipulate it to our advantage. Hence, the past is forgettable, easily rewritten, so long as the revisionist endeavor will glorify, or enhance, the present. There, in the distant past, we have incidents and actions that provoke us to destroy them or repaint them in order to master the present, to mold it to our liking.
But what are we to make of this Ms. Waller-Bridge? Her track record is, apparently, glorious, revered by entertainment critics, which means that her involvement, as the implication goes, would only guarantee brilliance in the script. We must enlighten our lives with her oeuvre, the implication goes on—but I hasten to add, not to the exclusion of other films such as A Passage To India or Kurosawa’s Ran. Let’s not get out of control. Nevertheless, Ms. Waller-Bridge is best known for Fleabag, a BBC sitcom that critics have hailed ad nauseam. From what I’ve seen, the effective thing the show has done is leave us with the image of an irritable whack job with a compulsion to pleasure herself (if you catch my meaning) while watching Barack Obama speeches—that and this business about one woman’s libido grappling sex and modern life in London. Bond fans had narrowly escaped the leftist Danny Boyle and his PC impulses (mercifully, he had bailed from this Bond gig); but now we get a British version of Lena Dunham, hellbent on social justice mumbo-jumbo and the tear down of the last remnants of the Bond image, this unabashed masculine European hero. When asked, during the Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, whether she would infuse the script with her renowned female feminist humor, she quipped: "Well, we’ll see, we’ll see what I can sneak in."
To which the Madam Producer applauds with zeal: “The Me Too movement has had a huge impact - rightfully, thankfully - on society, and these films should reflect that, as everything we do should.” Not surprisingly, Craig advocates the intention: “Bond has always adapted for the times. . . . Of course, we wouldn't be movie-makers or creative people if we didn't have an eye on what was going on in the outside world” (Simpson). Yeah, and you’re dragging the series closer to its death knell, Mr. Virtuous Putin Craig. As implied, the Craig-Bond’s treatment of women will have none of that tongue-in-cheek sexist ethos that highlighted the Bond films of yore. The door is now wide open for Craig’s gay-er Bond to make a glorious entrance as a #MeToo emasculated hero. To reinforce this PC approach, the filmmakers have summoned a so-called intimacy coach onto the set to ensure that “all the participating actors don’t leave their comfort zones during sex scenes” (Osborne). It is, shall we say, a method to ward off any risqué scenes. This direction, in tandem with Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s feminist angle, gives us the impression of a Bond film full of empowered masculine women berating a meek beta male 007. Behold, the funeral preparations for the iconic Bond character, as the filmmakers embrace the demands of the #MeToo era.
Clearly, the plans of Craig and company point to a radical political shift within the series—a takeover at the hands of far-left believers, or rather progressives. Leave it to these types, “the pygmy animal of equal rights and pretensions” in the words of Nietzsche (127), to specialize in certain things such as cannabis gardening, restroom policies for gender identity, the toppling of historical monuments, and fantasies for socialist utopias (the Green New Deal comes to mind, a manifesto obviously envisioned during bong hits). But extending their leftist ideology into a Bond film only magnifies the disorder of the series. From the statements of Craig, Ms. Waller-Bridge, and Madam Producer, we witness the propensity of the filmmakers to transform this 25th Bond film into an all together different animal, a militant feminist’s flick, I daresay. As some fans have expressed (in emails I’ve received), this film could be a conscious smack in the face to male fans—identity politics all the way, with propaganda over plot and Bond girls referred to as “Bond people.” The room for speculation is spacious: Rami Malek, in another bizarre production setback, cannot accommodate the film schedule, as reported in the tabloids; but who the hell cares? There is no need to have a character as the villain. Only one adversary looms for the Craig-Bond: the Patriarchy! I can foresee the agent, astounded by this horrid traditional structure of society, running into a safe space within MI6 to avoid his male boss, M. But, in a suspenseful confrontation, M reveals to the Craig-Bond that he reads Gloria Steinem books and has created a new policy for all employees to enforce identity tolerance. This new MI6, we can be sure, has the best intentions—and here we see the Craig-Bond in joyful tears as he learns that employees can now adopt any mental illness in order to choose anything from “they” to “9-volt Battery” for a personal pronoun. Promptly, the Craig-Bond chooses Eclipse, that most appropriate label, signifying how the Mission: Impossible films have surpassed the 007 series.
“This policy is revolutionary,” Eclipse tells M. “We’re not just overriding references to traditional pronouns such as his and hers—we’re bringing down inherent injustices and inverting the power hierarchy!”
Thanks to Q-Branch’s super-duper database scripts, the new designations will automatically populate in the HR records of each employee. Eclipse runs to the ladies’ bathroom (after all, in that gender fluid moment, Eclipse feels nothing like a man) and dresses in full drag, just as Eclipse’s former self had done in that bizarre commercial for International Women’s Day. As Eclipse stares into the mirror, admiring the reflection, Eclipse comes to terms with a new self—something of a man, something of a woman, a being without definite category. Eclipse smiles, remembering this dawning of the age of Woke. At last, Eclipse is reassured that even Moneypenny—who happens to have breasts, narrow hips, and a curvaceous rump—will no longer be looked upon as a woman addressed as she.
For a full assault on the Patriarchy, Eclipse settles into the MI6 safe space (furnished with coloring books, Play-Doh, and stuffed animals) and fires off Twitter feeds about his foster brother Blofeld, who intends to take over the world under the guise of a man! Why can’t he at least wear tights and over-the-calf red leather boots like Wonder Woman? No, it’s best to get Brother Blofeld de-platformed from Twitter itself. Then Eclipse can relax, knowing that the world is in the good hands of effete Silicon Valley chaps such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey.
The point is, this feminization of the film, if true, would be complete and utter lunacy. Yet coinciding with the involvement of Phoebe Waller-Bridge is the pestilent rumor of a female 007. The Daily Mail, in particular, is adamant on a MeToo makeover for the Craig-Bond:
“One plot being considered involves Craig’s ageing Bond retired and now living in Jamaica – the island where 007 author Ian Fleming had his Goldeneye retreat. The 007 number has been taken up by a new agent – a woman – who embarks on a mission which forces Bond to come out of retirement.
“Despite Bond’s legendary reputation as a womaniser, the new 007 manages to resist his charms.”
Of course, the emissary for this MeToo transformation is Ms. Waller-Bridge. “‘Her dialogue is sharp and brilliant,’” claims the source for this Daily Mail piece. The feminist approach bursts with obvious signals:
“It’s young, it’s fun and it is all about female empowerment. ‘This will be a very modern Bond for the MeToo era.’”
This direction would be the suitable finale to the Craig-Bond’s development in the last four films: from the metrosexual chap in Casino Royale—who expresses comfort with effeminate men in Quantum Of Solace and hints at repressed homosexual leanings in Brokeback Skyfall—to the grouchy man full of pent-up baggage in Spectre, we will reach the end stage of the revisionism in this 25th installment. It’s been quite the desecration of the character. And it’s been quite the desecration of the Fleming legacy itself: To think that the filmmakers, in Spectre, had reset the author’s work with the idiotic Blofeld-as-brother-of-Bond motif! Here, though, we get the sacred ritual of emasculating the character at the alter of feminism. On this note, the emails from fellow Bond fans have expressed outrage at the prospect of a Bond film featuring a condescending woman who now has the balls, so to speak, and exudes the Bondian machismo, while marginalizing the aging Craig-Bond by usurping his number 007 status and easily ignoring him to “resist his charms.” Even female fans have shared their frustrations. A Ms. Liz Collins, in London, writes:
“Well, the series is done, if there’s an ounce of reality to this rumor. So no more clever puns and one liners. The other Bond movies with Sean Connery all the way to Pierce Brosnan were so engaging. Men had their idol and women had their sexual fantasy, it was all fun escapism. The Daniel Craig movies have been a PC fest, and this new one is looking even more so but with a stronger agenda. But we don’t need that agenda.”
Evidently, the agenda is necessary for the Bond makers. Let us recall the line again, from Judi Dench’s M, in the aforementioned short film for International Women’s Day, when she chastises the Craig-Bond—a stinging remark that could be looked upon as the underlying impetus for this feminine directive: "For someone with such a fondness for women, I wonder if you have ever considered what it might be like to be one?" (Addley)
Hence, the new film has the potential to showcase the Craig-Bond attempting to grasp the enigmatic traits of women. I can foresee a scene where he, in a more understanding state of mind, is respectful of a female assassin’s ability to read men’s thoughts and runs away from her to write about the encounter in his diary. Unfortunately, this approach, which takes into account “what it might be like to be [a woman],” raises narrative problems. After all, what woman can’t read a man’s thoughts? For example, the women I keep meeting at the fitness center can foretell my sly dog intentions, which impels them to clarify (either through belligerent yelling or brusque laughter) that our acquaintance is just a brief encounter and that, at best, I’ve got a shot at something platonic, provided I move to another country and never attempt to contact the babe in any way.
Consider also that even if a woman didn’t have the innate ability to read the inner workings of a bloke’s psychology, and she casually surmises that he would like a beer, she would still be correct most of the time. Thus, we find such an attempt at social justice filmmaking the ultimate absurdist endeavor. Let me put it another way: will fulfilling every expectation of the social justice crowd lead to better storytelling? It would not, I gather. There wouldn’t be room for a good story. The narrative would feel forced and pointless, even at times laughable. Let’s consider again my hypothetical scene: if the Craig-Bond, in his new feminine persona, attempts to read another bloke’s thoughts, I’d say it’s a futile exercise. The only people who can never read men’s minds are other men, despite our awkward attempts at it—and in those moments, the best we can do is mutter, “Dude, you okay?” Such is the paradoxical dilemma that a social justice-oriented Craig-Bond would encounter.
The Q & A segment lasted about seven minutes, signaling the end to the entire press conference. Somewhere in the room, a projector fired images onto a big screen, approximately ten seconds of a photo collage depicting the construction of the Craig-Bond's vacation house in Jamaica. In other words, the image of creation counterpoints the dismantling of the 007 character and the entire Fleming source material. We are where we are: Craig and the filmmakers cannot understand what made the Connery-to-Brosnan Bond films special. They cannot even see the essential style of what made the series popular because they’ve become too immersed in the cultural milieu of today, the result leading to their deep dive into the politics of the far left. It’s disorder aplenty for the franchise. Eerily, since the press conference, the production has suffered mishap after mishap, underscoring the state of the series’ disorder. Aside from the constant script rewrites and the demoralized crew, Mr. Putin Craig and the director have been photographed in a heated argument on the Jamaican set—which lends credence to the actor’s alleged temper tantrums. Moreover, as filming wrapped in Jamaica, Craig injured his ankle when he slipped during an action scene, causing a brief cancellation of filming. Since the accident, the actor and his co-star, Rami Malek, have struggled with conflicting schedules that prevent them from filming scenes together. To make matters worse, the London set was placed in total lockdown in early June after three massive explosions ripped through the facility and left one crew member in hospital.
It’s here, in the London studio, where a man was arrested after authorities discovered a hidden camera in the women’s toilets. The incident did not cause any delays in filming; instead, leave it to the director himself, Cary Somebody, to provoke a major delay when, allegedly, he kept his crew waiting while he was enthralled by video game sessions on his PlayStation. Consequently, a mutiny supposedly erupted when the disgruntled crew disregarded the edict, as compensation for loss time, to work over the Father's Day weekend. Fortunately, Cary Somebody has since refuted the allegation on Instagram—the video game-playing allegation, that is, although one could quibble that he didn’t explicitly deny the production delay; instead, he babbled about the intricate work schedule typically involved in a film production. Meanwhile, media reaction to the PR event has been largely negative, the whole outlook for the next film reaching a pure sense of ridicule and pessimism. As an example, note the subhead in this piece from the unabashed tabloid, The Sun:
THE doomed James Bond film has suffered a fresh setback as stars Daniel Craig and Rami Malek are no longer available to shoot at the same time.
And the headline from the respectable rag The Guardian (a very left-leaning publication, if I ever did see one) raises the spectre of, yes, a doomed production:
Is the new James Bond film cursed – or just losing the plot?
As for the useless press conference, it proved to be useless. The day after, very little of the event garnered attention. In an over-populated world of eight billion people, surely there had to be at least one person who at least read about the event on the web? Alas, I noticed that the entertainment authority, Deadline.com, did not have the event listed in the section “Trending on Deadline.” In a similar theme, Metro (the UK’s free advertising-funded newspaper) called the press conference "enthusiasm-dampening” and that this next entry in the series was “the movie that nobody wanted.” In the publication’s online version, which boasts 46 million unique visitors a month, the list of top 30 trending events did not include the press conference. But, hey, as a noteworthy matter, we do learn that “Selena Gomez dropped a major clue about Taylor Swift’s new song ME! ages ago.”
After such disappointment, Madam Producer had to strike back big. The answer: praise, yet again, He Who Defies His Generation Of Actors—place him high on his majestic throne, and shower the world with her admiration for the Anointed One:
GMB’s Ross King revealed Broccoli is trying to convince Craig to do one more 007 movie after Bond 25.
He said: “When I was asking her about it [being Daniel’s final Bond film], she said, ‘I’m in complete denial’.”
Her line about being in denial of Craig’s impending departure is a worn-out shtick. Somebody at Eon needs to drag her to therapy: it’s the overwrought expression from an almost 60-year-old woman, for crying out loud. The line is embarrassingly demeaning to the series—and, ultimately to herself. Assuming it’s more than a piece of kitschy PR babble, it's startling to think that anyone would actually admit, in a public statement, to be in denial. To be in denial means you cannot confront reality. Which means you are delusional. Which means you’re carrying some psychological baggage. Pulling it all together, we get a fascinating glimpse into the hallucinatory mind of an unstable person running a major motion picture franchise. My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done, such as presenting to the entire world your infantile gibberish. Madam Producer, warrior of social justice, adamant feminist on the podium of the European Artios Awards, no one can no longer bear to watch you gushing like a middle-school girl. Nobody cares about the disheveled geezer you are fawning over. Just get over the fact that he’s fading away, falling into the arms of insignificance. You've milked this routine to the fullest for the last dozen or so years. Stop tormenting yourself. Be glad the world has been trying to forget your inane reboot of the series and this hoary carcass of an actor you've plopped right at the center of it all. It’s time to move on. The next time you visit the grounds of Goldeneye, note the trees and foliage. Their rustle in the Jamaican breeze—the Undertaker’s Wind, as someone once called it—is the same one Fleming heard as he walked in his garden, thinking of his Bond stories—stories you haven’t truly understood in a long while, alas, because you have forgotten them, just as you had forgotten the mystique of the film series.
Still, if there’s an upside to the chaos of this film production, we can be virtually certain the studio will shower this 25th entry with a multi-bajillion dollar marketing blitz. The media will change its tune, and all this doom will be brushed aside. In the end, the crowds will devour the film, at the very least on opening weekend; and despite the twisted approach of the filmmakers, it will appear they delivered another blockbuster. To what magnitude, only time will tell.
|1||For a rundown on the Craig-Bond’s evolution into a PC gay-oriented Bond, refer to my article “The Undivine Comedy Continues.”|
|2||Some apologists for this scene in Brokeback Skyfall have wrote to me to gloat that the Craig-Bond’s reaction was nothing more than the agent toying with the villain Raoul Silva. This is an irresponsible interpretation: it’s simply out of character for Bond to make light of his sexuality—the Classic Bond, that is. By “Classic Bond,” I refer to the literary character and, by extension, the Connery-to-Brosnan Bonds. The Classic Bond is a virile male specimen, self-assured in his masculinity. For example, nowhere in the Fleming books does he call into question his own sexuality. Moreover, he’d find a better way to talk his way out of the villain’s clutch. Witness the masterful scene in the film Goldfinger, when he’s strapped onto the table while a laser beam moves slowly toward his groin. The brilliant dialogue showcases his ability to think quickly, convincing Auric Goldfinger to spare his life. On the other hand, what we have in Brokeback Skyfall is a different Bond, based on a revisionist approach by the filmmakers to appease the PC tribunal.|
|3||Fleming new better. The orphaned boyhood claptrap is a fleeting reference in the obituary. The obituary itself is published in The Times, when M presumes that Bond has died during a mission to find archenemy Blofeld.|
|4||Until the film China Salesman, I had considered Spawn to be the finest representation of narrative film. Certainly it’s a profound heap of turd—so bad that it forces you to gaze upon it as a fine piece of filmmaking. Nothing, I thought, could be worse than seeing a gas-expelling John Leguizamo in a fat suit. That was 1997, and Layer Cake was seven years away and Quantum Of Solace was waiting in the wings for a 2008 release. However, 2017 brought an extraordinary game-changer: Shakespearean actor Sir Michael Tyson (with a dramatic cameo by Steven Seagal) worked closely with director Tan Bing to give us the most laughable film ever. But I believe it was unintentional: they truly sought to make a fine work of art but drowned in their delusions and succeeded majestically to offer pure idiocy.|
|5||For the record, the official title is Spectre: Mein Kampf with Bruder, or Spectre: The Most Expensive Bond Film Ever, depending on who you ask. For brevity, I shall refer to this film as Spectre for the remainder of this article.|
|6||This exaggerated praise for dear ol’ Danny Boy was uttered by non-other than Barbara Broccoli. She made the laughable comment in March 2006, just as filming of Casino Royale was underway and her derangement in full bloom.|
|7||It's the usual startling language from Nietzsche. He was certainly not fond of liberal democracy and saw it as a tool of the masses to oppress the few. The bit about the "pygmy" connotes the diminishing of people under socialist ideology—a degeneration occurs, plunging people into "the perfect herd animal" (127). For Nietzsche, a socialist society, granting comfort and security to one and all, leads to a decadent stale world: it wipes out human striving, ambition, and the determination to overcome hardship to become more than we currently are. These are the impulses and creative powers that, to Nietzsche, enable a flourishing culture.
So what political ideology did old Fritz endorse? Fascism was certainly out of the question: he opposed German nationalism and declared that the greatness of the German people stemmed from having “so much Polish blood in their veins.” Moreover, he denounced anti-Semitism and ended his bromance with Wagner due to the composer’s increasingly bizarre anti-Semitism. The Nazi association was fueled in large part by his whacked-out sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Friedrich eventually went mad, circa 1889; but during his sane years, he endorsed nothing but defended the spirit of individualism against intrusion and restrain by the unenlightened masses.
|8||Even with my questionable lampoon of fanatical feminism, we cannot avoid the underlying emphasis of this ideology: the struggle to transform the “dominated” into dominators, and vice versa, which draws its inspiration from the Communist Manifesto. In the bloom of the Frankfurt School of intellectuals (consisting of commies such as Eric From, Theodore Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse), “classical” Marxism got repackaged, so to speak, into what leftists called critical theory, a method of relentless intellectual assault on all aspects of western society, especially the cultural and traditional structures of society. It was the basis of cultural Marxism wherein Marxist strategy was applied to identity categories such as race and gender and sexuality. In context to the so-called war on masculinity, Mark Tapson offers an insightful summary: “The key to advancing this Marxist Cultural Revolution is what Marx called the abolition of the family, because the family is the basic elemental bond of humanity, and it is the most formidable line of defense against tyranny and against totalitarian state control. So, to destroy the family, the left has undertaken, for decades now, a campaign to denigrate marriage and motherhood, to obliterate gender distinctions, and to eradicate or at least delegitimize traditional masculinity.” Are the minds behind this next Bond film truly aware of what they’ve latched onto? As Tapson notes, “the ideology has an intellectual history, even when those followers don't acknowledge or understand that they are using cultural Marxism.”|
|9||Some fans have written to me, theorizing that Craig’s accident was a choreographed publicity stunt to emulate Tom Cruise’s accident during an action scene for Mission: Impossible - Fallout. The only problem with the theory is the difference in magnitude of the accidents. Tom Cruise, in a thrilling feat, jumped between two buildings (with the assistance of a harness) when he missed the edge of the second roof and slammed into the building. Whereas, the Octowussy slipped and hurt his ankle—not exactly the most “dramatic” thing to sensationalize. And, if anything, the injury emphasizes that he's over the hill and ought to be in a senior center, reading AARP blogs on osteoporosis, not running around in Jamaica pretending to be 007.|
|10||Have a look at the readers’ comments in reaction to the reported production setbacks. Whether it’s the Daily Mail or the Express, to name a few, a fair amount of scathing remarks are directed at Craig. He faces a general sense of audience fatigue, at least at this stage.|