In these times of dementia in America, a country where nothing is remembered for more than 20 seconds and, aptly enough, the People’s House has been converted into an Alzheimer’s clinic, it’s only fitting that the last Bond movie (whatever it’s called) is completely forgotten by everyone. I believe it is titled No Time To Delight, although it doesn’t really matter, considering that the blu-ray version is hardly noticeable in the bargain bin of my local Target. Still, among the heap of discs, the film does share precious space with paradigms of film art: Dunston Checks In is one example, and that’s got to count for something extraordinary.
Anyway, I chanced upon the streaming version after completing the setup of a Dolby Atmos system. In accordance with today’s glorious home theater technology, it is mandatory to erect a bajillion speakers in one’s living room to experience idiotic action movies in multichannel audio. Hence, I can report that it is truly enthralling to hear the precision of Daniel Putin Craig’s delivery of compelling lines—lines such as “Wait! Wait, wait!” and “Die Blofeld, die!”—over 255.1 channels of full-range sound. However, I will admit that the installation was without difficulty: back at the high-end audio shop, I should’ve heeded the technician’s advice that it would be easier to remove my house from its foundation and drop a brand new, pre-wired home rather than contend with the trouble of rewiring the existing one. Nevertheless, after a lengthy session of calibrating the speakers (an arcane process of using SPL meters and running Chaos Theory equations on my computer), I was able to sit back, watch, and dislike No Time To Disinfect.
Again, the title eludes me. So does the plot. I would provide a synopsis, but to do so would be as troublesome for me, and as helpful for you, as offering you an explanation of why I had hallucinated, in fourth grade, an army of cats driving snow plow trucks in a winter storm. I do recall that what I saw from my streaming service is alleged to be a Bond film. And I do recall that it is so laughable and forgettable that it might as well be called The Movie of Laughter and Forgetting, or TMOLAF, to use today’s hip parlance of acronyms. This is a movie made with the passion to be awful—and insulting to Bond fans and to the very legacy of the 007 film series.
In TMOLAF—or No Time To Die, as called by the Craigyboppers in sycophantic fan forums—the first thing that strikes us is the mystery implied in the title. Who, exactly, has no time to die? Paradoxically, it’s a movie that has many characters having the time to die, and those who survive in the closing scenes have killed their careers by appearing in this film. So you see, all the characters succumb, in one form or another, to the ways of the grim reaper. It will also not do us any good to turn to the lyrics of the title song, as performed by the anointed minister of edginess Wilhelm Eilish, for elucidation. The lyrics, puerile in its teenybopper wisdom (“Now you'll never see me cry/There's just no time to die”), has more promise in an Olivia Rodrigo video, not a ballad concerning the frustration in love that only a mature woman could convey. Some Craigyboppers, however, have written to me, gloating that the title is an homage to the 1958 Albert R. Broccoli war film No Time to Die. Yes, but in that film, a lot of characters also die; and by the time the film ends, two of the principle characters, Sergeant David Thatcher and Trooper "Tiger" Noakes, bury British Command Sergeant Kendall, an image that foreshadows their ultimate destiny. Moreover, in the US, the film was retitled Tank Force, which suggests that Cubby Broccoli (ever the astute businessman) had his eye on commercial objectives, so much so that titles were superfluous and dispensable.
Putting aside my apprehension for the clumsy title, I must point out that the Craigian tenure is firmly established as heretical, considering that it has taken many liberties with Commander Ian Fleming’s original spy mythos. But what this latest entry lacks in tradition it more than makes up for in profound incoherent lunacy. Once again, that has to count for something extraordinary. I can attest that the damn film is over-plotted, assembled from different pieces that barely have anything to do with each other. There are bioweapon nanobots, corrupt British agents, characters brought in from previous Craig-Bond films with not much to do, an unremarkable female 007, the return of the unremarkable Swan Lake girl, an unremarkable island fortress with a poison garden, missiles careening towards an island, a kid on the island, an effeminate villain on the island, and a portion in Norway in the opening sequence that is too long and laughably unnecessary to the overall story. Fortunately, the director (who nobody remembers) concocts an innovative cinematic technique now known as Smear The Scene With Murky Lighting, Remove Every Four Frames, Drop The Volume Level, And Shake The Camera Like It’s A Can Of Aerosol Spray. Thus, the choppy rapid fire pace of the narrative in dark atmosphere, with barely discernible audio levels. This also involves intricate stunt choreography where a legion of humongous stuntmen are directed to hurl themselves across the room whenever the petite Ana de Armas or the geriatric Craig-Bond taps them lightly. Through it all, there are touches of extraordinary lighting, a palette of orange and yellow and shades of marine blue, and, well, murkiness.
The business about nanobots concerns Project Heracles, which sounds like a scrapped Dwayne Johnson solo album or maybe a type of high-grade weed. But in the film’s fantasy, it concerns nanotechnology tweaked for DNA-targeting assassination. It happens to be developed by a Russian scientist (oh, let’s blame the Russians for something nefarious) who has collaborated with British Intelligence (oh, let’s blame the Brits, too). Clearly, evil can only be unleashed by western powers. That is the gospel according to Madam Producer Barbara Broccoli, who is obviously heeding the dictates of the Woke tribunal. The plot thickens, as the saying goes, when the scientist, Valdo Something (great grandson of The Great Waldo Pepper), is kidnapped from the laboratory by CGI-aided villains clad in black military fatigues. The raid disrupts the workflow of some nerdy chemists, and lab reports and other documents are scattered in the process. No doubt somebody will try to blame the raucous on western powers as well. And how about the traffic jam that delayed the villains’ trip to the lab? What caused it? Western powers, of course! The Madam Producer, with her impeccable artistic eye, realized there was solid potential in jamming this film with leftist ideology, although any clinically sane filmmaker would have ran from the whole notion. Hence, forget about all the different locales unfolding in the narrative. For the sake of simplicity, we can state that the story takes place in the enigmatic world of Wokeistan.
One of the plots has a twist in that the twist is quite stupid. With the Russian scientist now kidnapped, western intelligence—under the guise of the CIA and the British Secret Service—does what any sophisticated government organization attempting to prevent human extinction would do: they summon one guy, the Craig-Bond who happens to be a washed-up former MI6 agent with a penchant for showering outdoors and wearing dad jeans. Moreover, as often happens in the gritty realistic world of spydom, he and Moneypenny—an office secretary, for crying out loud—plan the clandestine operation in Q’s apartment. It’s one of the many absurdities that unfold one after the other throughout the film. Case in point: Craig, sad to say, is not as agile as he once was, in the same sense that comrade Bernie Sanders is no longer able to join a par course workout session. Fortunately, the cinematographer (Wilhelm Eilish) provided a nifty camera trick in that she was able to get Craig to lurch toward the camera like a dad sloshed from a keg of beer to create the illusion that the diminutive actor is a larger-than-life figure. Unfortunately, the female 007—the misused Nomi Something, relegated to spouting grating catchphrases—is able to outshine him in the charisma department, thus catapulting the Craig-Bond not only off my 60-inch screen but out through the front door, hurling for several miles and landing in the Home Depot parking lot.
Of course, there’s another plot that has to do with the villain, a very low grade personality known as Lyutsifer Safin. Let’s face it, when you name your child Lyutsifer, you should not be too surprised when he grows up to be a villain cavorting with assholes in the nefarious organization SPECTRE. And of all the names available, why did his parents settle for Lyutsifer? Why not Thibedeaux or Maxwell Montes? Were the parents from a hippie colony and, during bong hits under a full moon, became enamored with the fallen angel but struggled to spell the name correctly? Or were they under the impression they would be revered at PTA meetings, having the sole child in school whose name has an arty, poetic reference to the Evil One himself? Played by Rami Malek, fresh from his inexplicable best actor Oscar for Bohemian Rhapsody, the villain is clearly evil because he has a scarred face (damaged from chloracne) and sashays in dark rooms in a kimono and babbles his manifesto by speaking slowly with an obscure accent. But don’t worry, this is all rather Flemingesque in light of Lyutsy Boy’s ownership of a poison garden, lifted from the Japan-oriented saga you only live twice. Having depleted the Fleming works, the Madam Producer and her cronies now resort to adapting unused elements from the novels to pass off their approach as true to the late author’s vision. We must admit it’s sort of a futile effort: Fleming is long forgotten by mainstream audiences, and a fleeting reference to a backdrop in one of his novels does not make for a so-called literary adaption. In any case, the result is anything but faithfulness, I’m sorry to say. Whereas the film presents the garden as a clinical, sterile, concrete enclosure with neatly trimmed shrubs, Fleming's description is something of a hellish landscape:
Not a wisp of wind stirred in the trees, but from somewhere came the sound of softly running water and, in the background, a regular glutinous burping and bubbling [of boiling geysers]. . . . All over the park, a slight smell of sulphur hung in the air, and many times Bond had had to detour round the steaming cracks in the ground and the quaint mud of fumaroles, identified by a warning circle of white-painted stones. (123)
One gets the impression of a desolate surface of volcanic rock—something of an inferno, not exactly Dante's vision but hellish nonetheless. Added to this exquisite landscape design is a refreshing lake replete with piranhas. Fleming heightens the scenario with imagery reminiscent of the Gothic macabre: Bond witnesses a man with a swollen face (the after effect of contact with poisonous tropical plants), who makes “a quick run to the end [of the lake] and threw himself in. At once there came the swirl of movement . . . and there was a wild boiling of the surface round the vaguely threshing body. A mass of small fish were struggling to get at the man, particularly at the naked hands and face, and their six-inch bodies glittered and flashed in the moonlight” (122).
This is archenemy Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s wondrous garden of death. It includes other amenities such as easy exposure to poisonous reptiles and well-raked paths through groves of deadly berries and orange fruits. “The place is nothing more than a departmento of death,” in the words of Bond’s ally, Tiger Tanaka, the ideal getaway for those seeking to commit suicide. Yet from Blofeld’s standpoint, he is providing an effective public service: through his magnanimity, the Japanese people now have a convenient location for death. The enterprise is quite the success, gaining the reputation as the most desirable site for suicides in all of Japan. The toad-like Irma Bunt, the megalomanic’s paramour and secretary, proclaims:
‘You are a genius, lieber Ernst. You have already established this place as a shrine to death for evermore. People read about such fantasies in the works of Poe, Lautréamont, de Sade, but no one has ever created such a fantasy in real life. It is as if one of the great fairy tales has come to life. A sort of Disneyland of Death . . . on an altogether grander, more poetic scale.’ (130)
Despite Fleming’s fantastical approach, the haunting inferno-like atmosphere reinforces the tension—and threat—necessary in an adventure story. By contrast, much of the weakness of TMOLAF centers on the profound lack of threat throughout. This stems from Lyutsifer, who’s devoid of any nefarious presence. It’s bad enough that his island lair lacks a chilling atmosphere; but in his confrontation with the Craig-Bond, it’s unclear where all the vapid talk about destruction is actually headed. We see the Craig-Bond is in conflict with Safin but we never truly know why he's struggling to thwart the master fiend. In addition, Safin’s youthful appearance hinders any of his potential threat: Malik, despite the scarred makeup, is about as frightening as a high school kid delivering pizzas. His overall appearance also strikes an existential dissonance: at the start of the film, we meet the villain in Norway, many years before the main narrative occurs, when Ms. Swan Lake is a little girl—and when the two cross paths later in the film, she looks inexplicably older than Safin. (Wait, what am I saying? Grandpa Craig-Bond and Léa Seydoux have a disturbing age difference, and their the lack of chemistry ensures we don’t care even for a moment about their characters.)
Admit that these ostensibly jarring absurdities point to a disregard for Fleming’s creation and any respectful stance for what the series has established, and you have the underlying tone of this film. “Forget Fleming,” the filmmakers are saying. “We’ll redo his work better.” Of course, since the reboot with the Craig tenure, the series has steadily plunged into its own dementia, only now reaching a complete forgetting of Fleming in this film’s revisioning of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, both novel and film. I’ve pointed out this effort of the filmmakers in my first review and requires no additional commentary on this matter. To summarize, both sources are thoroughly ransacked with references and soundtrack cues, shaping TMOLAF as a twisted remake of the latter. The same can be said for other scenes or motifs that are obviously lifted, or borrowed, from other films—Black Widow, Logan, and The Force Awakens, to pinpoint some influences. If there's anything remarkable in this approach, the filmmakers delivered an imitation 007 adventure with synthetic emotional texture, a film entirely second hand, so to speak, rather than authentic.
In the wake of the film’s release, the series finds itself in utter chaos and uncertainty. The box-office intake was anemic at best—the film had a tortured production and, depending on who’s fiddling with the abacus, the damn thing cost somewhere between $250 to $300 million to produce, with another $250 million (as bragged by the producers) pumped into promotion. The break-even point is $1 billion; but the worldwide tally reached a pitiful $774 million. Some reports point to a $100 million loss “due to marketing expenses and costs related to its repeated, pandemic-related delays” (Nolte). In other words, the fifth Craigian Bond film tanked along with its brethren of Wokeism, West Side Story, during the Christmas season of 2021.
The rubble in this aftermath is the hard truth that a Bond movie molded in the left-wing credo of identity politics is a descent into the maelström. There’s not much appeal when a film, devoid of sensuality, is about as erotic as Leave It To Beaver. Furthermore, a Bond movie crafted for grating political posturing is not only a turn-off but unbearable to watch in its self-destruction as it insults, even condemns, the rich legacy of the Bond films of yore. In this self-destruction, it erases, forgets, the enigmatic character first introduced in 1962 and, by extension, desecrates the Fleming canon.We now see a Bond emasculated into a sulking wimp who can't get over his first love, while the current woman in his life dominates him, wrapping him around her little finger; we now see a Bond who bows down and begs before an ineffective villain; we now see a Bond, a male Caucasian hero, reduced to a sacrificial lamb, while the female characters are braver in moments of danger—and stronger and determined, having the will to survive beyond the island’s destruction to celebrate a rejuvenated earth (ah, that utopian world to come that all progressives long for!). Other elements jut out awkwardly to fulfill the political agenda: cram in a black female 007 character for the sake of diversity points and highlight the notion of a gay Q even if it doesn’t advance the plot in any way. But mission accomplished: the main aspects of a woke-driven travesty are in place, despite the film giving off the feeling that many scenes were reshot due to the terrible reaction from test audiences, as widely reported.
The aftermath continued as a wave of destruction, even raising disturbing possibilities for the future of the series. To start with, director Cary Joji Nobody Remembers dove into a bizarre PR stunt that is best described as “extremely stupid.” It was he—impelled by virtue-flaunting—who smeared the Sean Connery Bond films and, by extension, the entire 007 legacy by suggesting that Connery’s Bond was a rapist. What’s he all high and mighty for? This is the man who suddenly found himself embroiled in accusations of sexual harassment from young women. The Madam Producer, typically quite vocal in her political charade, was suddenly quiet, unwilling to address the situation. Meanwhile, co-producer Michael G. Wilson, finally sensing the idiocy of their latest effort, attempted to justify what they’ve done by describing the 007 films not as one large series but as “a series of series” (Shirey). Thus, Daniel Craig’s tenure is but one installment, he seems to say. This opens the door to another reboot for another installment, another disparate series, that branches off on its own. But does it mean abandoning the mentality that fueled the Craigian quintet of Bond films? Fat chance. A Bond in Wokeistan will continue; and the franchise, if anything, is positioned for further decline. To be cautious or not to be cautious; to expect the worst or not to expect the worst—these are the questions that now face us as we contemplate the series. For the Madam Producer is, shall we say, unbalanced and appears to be adamant in her political views. At the recent New York Film Festival, she could not contain herself from adhering to the left-wing tactic of blaming societal ills on a certain New Yorker with a forceful braggadocios persona. Following a private screening of Till (which she co-produced), she stood on the balcony of her ideological crystal palace, confirming that she's another less-than-brilliant Hollywood type:
“I pray that people see [Till],” added the producer who controls Eon Productions, with Michael G. Wilson, home of the James Bond franchise. . . . Broccoli was worried, she said because the racial climate in the United States “feels worse now than it did 20 years ago. A lot of it is Donald Trump, isn’t it? He’s made it so that people can openly deny this happened.” (Bamigboye)
What kind of dementia medication has impaired Her Majesty Of Bondian Filmdom? She ought to consultant the handlers of the current occupant of the People’s House for an effective treatment plan—at least that patient can appear semi-coherent every other week. As it is, her comment is a fascinating glimpse into the delirious mind of a vainglorious neurotic, convinced of her moral superiority. It also suggests that, with such a questionable level of sanity behind the 007 franchise, the next phase carries the spectre of more inanity, so anything goes. For starters, it doesn’t necessarily exclude the involvement of His Eminence, Daniel Putin Craig. Of late, the two had continued to collaborate, taking a twisted version of macbeth to Broadway. Pale-faced, with a crew cut, and wearing a Bea Arhturian frock, Lord Craigeth of Cheshire stumbles through a performance panned viciously by critics. It is but a minor setback, especially when there is light through yonder window of the Bondian world: the actor, held in high esteem by the Madam Producer, could be hauled back to the fray to continue his producing efforts, just as he had done with some of his Bond films. It would also be premature to count him out of another comeback to the role. The Madam Producer, in her delusions, could pull a Trevelyan-like resurrection and bring back the Craig-Bond without any explanation of how he survived the blast on Lyutsifer’s island.
Nevertheless, a flurry of rumors has since developed, surrounding the casting of one Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the next 007. You may have noticed the actor playing a hopelessly ridiculous British assassin in the tedious Brad Pitt-starrer Bullet Train. His fans (approximately five individuals) no doubt cheered that he turned in his usual performance; that is to say, none that I could see. He has all the camera presence of that one Jonas brother with the thick eyebrows. It seems a reckless choice in the magnitude of the Craigian miscasting. We are, so to speak, back where we started.
Yet what are we to make of this rumor? Supposedly, the signature gun barrel sequence has already been filmed with the actor. To blazes with this rumor, I say. If the history of the franchise is anything to go by, the casting of a new actor doesn’t occur until a director is attached to the film. Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton were screen tested by John Glen in the pre-production phase of The Living Daylights. Martin Campbell oversaw the auditions of various actors for Casino Royale. Moreover, during these auditions, a draft of the script is typically completed. As of this writing, the Madam Producer and company have not begun any pre-production work, let alone the development of a script. Well, all right, perhaps the neo-Renaissance artist Hunter Biden had taken a stab at the screenplay and has the draft stored on his laptop from hell. It would also not be inconceivable that, on this matter of the left-wing agenda, the Madam Producer has been considering the likes of Greta Thunberg and Meghan Markle for potential collaboration. It’s unwise to overlook her propensity for destruction.
The door has been opened, anyway, for such shenanigans: the added bonus to the Taylor-Johnson casting, if true, is that he happens to be married to director Samantha Taylor-Johnson (not to be confused with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the 19th-century Lake Poet). As luck would have it, she is the staunch feminist who’s had her foray into the 007 world. For it was she who directed the two-minute piece for International Women’s Day, a throughly insulting work of ridicule in which an emasculated Craig-Bond transforms into a woman (that is, a man in drag). Somehow, it’s meant to be an insightful depiction of an archetypal male hero awakening to his feminine side to highlight the need for gender equality. It was produced by none other than the Madam Producer, which again suggests her denouncement of the traditional 007 character and the established series that has fallen into her hands. The endeavor as such with director Taylor-Johnson paints an unsettling scenario: with both having already collaborated, would the Madam Producer raise the ante by tapping the latter to helm the next film?
Pulling it all together, a future Bond movie under the dictates of a Broccoli-Markle-Putin Craig association, and directed by a devout feminista, with a script by Hunter Biden and climate preacher Greta Thunberg, strikes the proper chords for a requiem, resonating into a new 007 series grounded in revolutionary leftist thought.
Whether such utter madness truly materializes, we’ll just have to wait and see.
|1||The emperor of Bondian filmdom also exercised this practice 27 years later. Roger Moore’s 007 swan song was intended to be called From A View To A Kill, which is the title of an Ian Fleming short story, derived from an old hunting song. Cubby Broccoli, most likely influenced by some sort of market research, shortened the title to A View To A Kill. The original is striking, with a sense of meaning. The revision is embarrassingly nonsensical but it’s hardly an issue: apart from the Paris setting, this fourteenth entry in the series has nothing to do whatsoever with the short story.|
|2||While the raising of awareness for economic and cultural achievements of women is valid, we cannot forget that the roots of this event lie in the socialist, rather than the feminist, movement. First introduced in 1911, its organizer Clara Zetkin was a card-carrying Marxist who hobnobbed with Lenin. This is another aspect of the Eon camp, under the Madam Producer’s reign, that reinforces how the organization is steeped in the leftist ideology.|