British-Aryan imperialist conquers globe and women; stuff blows up.

Or at least that’s what I got out of the tonal/thematic/structural train wreck that is Spectre.

[Some spoilers ahead. My school was “fortunate” enough to get a pre-screening of the film. This view is entirely my own.]

I get that the purpose of the film is to entertain (well, really, it’s to make money), so it might be unfair of me to expect more from it. But it wasn’t even entertaining. It was a mess. Too many cooks perhaps? Sam Mendes’ films have an identifiable style and mood, akin to but not quite to the same level as the Coen Brothers. Clearly, we aren’t getting his directorial vision here. The film jumps from campy to pseudo-serious with an inconsistent demand on our suspension of disbelief. The film’s universe doesn’t have any clear rules, there’s no meaningful set-up and pay-off, the characters drift in and out without any discernible development (the villains especially, making whatever their villainous plans are supposed to be obscured and reduced to empty words like information and surveillance), plot contrivances abound…and this goes on for 2.5 hours. And Bond’s character arc is to settling down finally with a woman (who is completely stripped of power and independence as the film progresses) and not killing a villain, but this movement isn’t earned at all. If the filmmakers were trying to push Bond into a progressive mold, they’ve completed missed the mark.

Also, Bond is a rapist. At one point in the film, his main girl (silly me, I forgot her name, since she’s represented as an object) says, “you shouldn’t stare.” Bond responds, in a classic example of victim-blaming, “you shouldn’t dress like that.”

All of this might be excusable if it weren’t for the fact that we’re still idolizing Bond as an ideal of masculinity. Even though we might be aware of how absurd and unbelievable that representation is, we’re nevertheless endorsing it with loads and loads of money. Money, by the way, is never an issue in these globe-trotting films, where Bond, in all his glorious imperialism, goes from place to place with inexplicable ease, having authority wherever he goes. Thanks, colonial-era white supremacy. And thanks, Bond, for helping us internalize that gross ideology.

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