“What did you think of it?”
“Well it started out pretty shitty…and then it got mostly shitty.”
This is a James Bond movie about how aging white men no longer feel powerful and important. You see, James Bond is old. How old? I don’t know, maybe 45 or something. His beard is all gray and white during the part of the movie when he is sulking because his mommy sacrificed him for the sake of a hard drive that inexplicably has all of Britain’s secret agents’ real names and addresses on it. When he goes back to fight more evil, he’s out of shape! He can’t shoot a gun, and even though his bod is still totally rocking (full disclosure: Daniel Craig gives me a huge boner that my husband finds embarrassing. He says it’s a “cliché” boner. I say one can not control one’s boners. He says he prefers my boners to be inspired by men of the Jason Schwartzmann/Mark McKinney/Harpo Marx persuasion (he also said “when a girl gets a boner, what happens” and I said “nothing, really, you just imagine James Bond crying in your lap so you can comfort him” and he said “gross”)), he gets real tired doing pull-ups. M clears him for duty even though he fails literally all of the tests. On the one hand I was thinking, Jesus, how long has this guy been out of commission? It seems like only a couple months. Does somebody like this really forget how to shoot a gun in that time? On the other hand I was thinking, why am I watching this movie.
Anyhoo, so the whole point is that Javier Bardem (best Bond villain ever, I wish the movie was just him chewing up the scenery like the Mangler in that one Stephen King short story, “The Mangler”), who is perhaps ambiguously pan-sexual and actually seems to physically come on to our hero at one point, a scene I very much enjoyed, I mean, can you imagine. But anyway the whole point is that Javier Bardem used to be a James Bond figure. He was a “brilliant” agent who M betrayed in order to save a bunch of other agents. He was tortured but kept her secrets, then tried to kill himself with his little cyanide pill but it didn’t work, it just horribly disfigured his face. Now he’s crazy and wants to kill M, who he refers to as “mother.”
Yes indeed! So it’s Good Son and Bad Son fighting for their mother’s love! And it’s aging people not feeling relevant anymore. This point is driven home roughly one hundred million times. See the new Quartermaster, who is like 17 years old and is just typpity typing away and oh, James Bond doesn’t know what’s happening! He even says “I can do more damage on my laptop in my pajamas than you can do with your gun” or something and James Bond is like “you wish, pal.”
It’s driven home when Ralph Fiennes wants to retire M because she’s too old. To be fair, M does seem really old. The prime minister is pissed because all these agents keep getting outed and killed and then Javier Bardem blows up MI6 and parliament is like, WTF is going on you weirdos? Why can’t you keep your shit together? Which I think is a perfectly reasonable government response to terrorist attacks in London caused by a rogue MI6 agent hacking into MI6’s own computer network or whatever, but of course the movie presents it as, like, these hateful bureaucrats who don’t understand the valiant struggle of brave men killing all goons. So many goons!
So M and Bond are both too old. The new Q is constantly making jokes about how old James Bond is, which just seems unprofessional. Javier Bardem is a computer whiz and has a magic computer that can follow them wherever they are and truly, guts and brawn are no match for the information superhighway, or something. The Prime Minister keeps being like “MI6 is old fashioned! We need people who can use computers!” and M keeps quoting Yeats or whatever and I was like, what the fuck is going on. Bond hangs onto an elevator and it makes him sweat, which is deeply disturbing because Bond is meant to be indestructible. Then a lady comes in and has sex with him inexplicably. Later he meets another lady and he tells her he can tell she’s terrified, and he wants to help her. He promises to help her. She believes him, and tells him to meet her on her yacht so she can take him to Javier Bardem who is holding her prisoner. By “meet me on my yacht” James Bond takes her to mean “sneak into my room when I’m in the shower, take off all your clothes, and then hop in with me, even though I just revealed to you that I’m so terrified for my life because of my imprisoned rape nightmare with this psychopath that I am shaking and can barely speak coherently.” It’s all good though because of the aforementioned rocking bod which shall subdue any feminine compunctions. Then Javier Bardem immediately gets James Bond to shoot her, after which James Bond reveals no emotion and just kills all the guys anyway and we never hear about that woman again. Perhaps the lowliest Bond woman situation I have ever seen, even though at least he didn’t rape her before he killed her (technically).
Javier Bardem’s computer magic is too much for Britain’s top agents to deal with. He makes a subway train crash through a wall into an underground cavern during rush hour. Must a trillion people die so that Britain can get this stupid hard drive back? I might be getting kind of sick of Britain. The computer magic is overwhelming and even somehow allows Javier Bardem to waltz right into a meeting of Parliament and try to shoot M right there in front of everybody. Soulless bureaucrat Ralph Fiennes redeems himself by shooting a gun and James Bond winks at him. James Bond kidnaps M and she’s like “where are we going” and he’s like “somewhere where people of our kind are no longer baffled and confused by the world of youth and technology” and she’s like “where’s that” and he says “BACK IN TIME” and then they literally just drive to Scotland, which seems really rude to me.
Ok it’s his childhood home! Now we are truly in the belly of the beast, a.k.a. James Bond’s horrifying psyche, which I picture as a depthless shrieking void filled with the ghosts of the millions of people he has killed, and gigantic disembodied boobs reaching out to him in a way that is somehow both wanton and threatening. Is this shit about to get super real? He has his mommy, finally all to himself; he has his childhood home, filled with the dust of ages and surely the memories of his parents; the ghosts are all coming out to play. Except he never reveals any emotions regarding his childhood, his childhood home, his parents, etc. What seemed like a promising plotline perhaps involving James Bond crying and clutching a dusty teddy bear just ended up in a helicopter exploding, like usual.
They know Javier Bardem is going to find them but since there are no computers or internet (?) they have a fighting chance. They rig the house Home Alone style, with booby traps and stuff, and a mirror that will make Britain’s most brilliant secret agent think there’s a real guy standing there! They get some old hunting rifles or something. Anyway Bardem shows up in a military helicopter and crashes it into the house and everything blows up but he’s still alive. We are treated to long luxurious shots of the entire sprawling Scottish manse exploding and being engulfed in flames; the savaging of his childhood, the combustion of the heimlich from which, presumably, all his horrible repressed unheimlich mommy-based nightmares flow. All he does is look at it for a second and boldly say “I never liked this place anyway.” Yeah no shit, James Bond.
James Bond falls under the ice. James Bond gets out from under the ice. M and an old Scottish man are hiding in Ye Olde Crumblin’ Chapel. Javier Bardem finds them and then basically has a psychic break with reality and is like “MOMMY” and hugs M and then tries to make her shoot them both through the head with the same bullet while he cries. I found this scene disturbing, then realized that it was because throughout the film I had pretty much been 100% on Javier Bardem’s side. You know what, it IS fucked up how M betrayed you, Javier Bardem! It IS fucked up, this horrible job and how nobody cares about you or knows your real name! You know what else, I’m just gonna say it, but James Bonds’s love of M is totally pathetic and sad. Imagine what such a man could have done with his life, but instead he chose to become a psychopath who only cares about this mean old government worker who would sacrifice his life for a hard drive. Anyway he kisses her on the cheek, his mommy, and she dies. What’s next for ol’ scrappy middle aged James Bond?
The worst part of the movie was all the wink-wink “fun” throwbacks to earlier Bond stuff. The whole movie is so defensive about middle-age and how old people don’t understand the world but really they are better than everybody else. So of course Bond is like “we have to change cars” and somehow it’s a 1974 Aston Martin or whatever that fucking car is. And then the old-school guitar-riff theme song comes in. And at the end of course it’s like “Oh I never got your name, girl I have fucked and had adventures with and who did once shoot me in the chest” and she’s like “It’s Eve……..Eve……MONEYPENNY” and you are supposed to be like “Ah!” and then chuckle delightedly. This is supposed to be fun? Am I having fun? It was like the whole movie was defensively saying “IT’S NOT BORING!”
There is literally a scene where a goon gets eaten by a giant dinosaur lizard in a Shanghai casino and James Bond is like “DINNER IS SERVED.” I made up that last part.
I have never liked the Bond franchise but then I really liked Casino Royale. Now I guess I don’t like it anymore. I mean, James Bond is a sociopath, and a drunk, and he just shoots people and is good at running, right? Is that really all there is to it? He’s a babe and he runs and he knows how to wear a suit and he’s clever. Some dillweed in the New Yorker wrote that Bond has been outdone by its descendants and I really think that is true. I really require my action heroes to have more going on upstairs, and in the emotions department. That’s why I kind of liked Casino Royale but apparently that one was a fluke.
In conclusion: Javier Bardem is a genius; Daniel Craig still gives me a huge boner; every time I see a Bond movie I think “I’m never watching another Bond movie” but then I do and the whole cycle is so enervating. Before the final credits they showed this Bond logo and it said “50 YEARS” and “JAMES BOND WILL RETURN” and it just seemed hysterical.
I was much more excited by the preview for Tarantino’s new period oppressed minority revenge fantasy.
Anyway, there, I said it. Also Sean Connery is disgusting, don’t even go there.