James Bond Lived Only Once: Films That Fail to Take a Political Stance


Give me a good old Cold War movie anytime and I’ll watch it in vindictive pleasure as the free-willed western individuals kick the appropriate anatomical parts of communists drones, expolit and make fun of the micromanaged dictatorships, and bring people to due tears over the suffering of the citizens under such horrid regimes.

Seriously. Make that movie instead of the sloppy, self-loathing trash, beautifully projected over the silver screen, chiseled to perfection in a way to offend the least amount of people around the world.

Take James Bond for instance. Ever since the series’ soft reboot in 2006 with Casino Royale, there is not a single enemy country in the movies, despite the fact that Russia upped its game in manipulating the internal politics of Western countries, and China sugarcoating its increasingly Orwellian dystopia with a very successful projection of soft power that takes over international markets.

And that is the problem. Filmmakers are afraid to take a stance. They are afraid to insult the countries whose residents suffer under totalitarian regimes, lest the movies are banned from certain markets.

That is only one side of the problem. There is another totalitarianism movies today fail to counter: political correctness and a utopian impracticality that causes the West to lose its raison d’être, and fall into whimpering self-loathing.

Instead of communists and Soviet-backed terrorists James Bond now fights the enemies within, forcing on the viewers a supercilious social criticism of a system that made the movie possible.

The crescendo of the movie series’ new, risk-free, woke appeasement came in the plot of the second installment after the reboot: Quantum of Solace, where the British secret agent didn’t defeat a criminal mastermind plotting in his lair under the volcano to destroy the world. Instead, the modernized James Bond fought against…. the privatization of a water reserve in mismanaged Bolivia.

The plot gets as murky as water in a centrally planned country, when Bond not only has to face businessmen wanting to topple a dictatorship, but also the evil USA government, which actually supports the idea of freedom in South America.

The subsequent movie, Skyfall, is a diatribe against civic oversight that should be a cornerstone of a liberal democracy, yet Bond is on the side of M, the head of the secret service, who blatantly disregards checks and balances, and the baddies those who are hell bent on punishing her for it.

Let’s not dwell on the nonsensical plot and move on to the latest installment, Spectre, which leads us to believe yet again, in a poor mimicry of the second film’s indoctrinative free-market bashing, that private funding and corporations are bad, and that so is technology.

To be fair, the film could be interpreted as a dire warning against state surveillance and violation of our private digital space, but instead of addressing the elephant in the room (which is that China has the most elaborate system of prying into every aspect of its citizen’s lives), the movie yet again demonizes private corporations, by putting Spectre, a shadowy terrorist organization, behind all evil of the world. Yet another movie where entrepreneurs are villainous.

Even the first movie of the reboot, Casino Royale, is eager to cater to every continent, by showing us a poker table so diverse in players, it makes it an in-your-face attempt to gain an audience from all corners of the world.

In itself, there is nothing wrong with that, but when screenwriters stop seeing oppressive regimes as villains and would rather deem them as prospective markets, we have lost the good old-fashioned James Bond.

The West might have won the Cold War, but James Bond has fallen, and was turned by the likes of China.

Skyfall spent several long minutes of visual pornogrpahy over the beauties of China that could well be a tourist advertisement. Bond might as well step out of his beautifully bespoke suit, to don some cheap Chinese clothes with a knock-off Rolex.

But Chinese soft power is very effective. Even 1997 Tomorrow Never Dies, the 18th James Bond film, sees the titular character joining forces with a Chinese agent, to fight the evil fake news media. Oh, the irony.

The truth is, the fall of the Soviet Union killed James Bond. He couldn’t find his place in the brave new world, pitting himself again unambitious entrepreneurs, rather than oppressive regimes plotting to destroy western civilization.

After the Cold War, Bond worked with Russians to stop thieves and drug lords, he even stopped the end of the world once in The World is Not Enough, and fought a remaining communist dictatorship, North Korea, in Die another Day.

Yet, Bond didn’t live (only) twice. He died long before the soft reboot. So, rest in peace. Please.

With another Bond movie premiering soon, I shiver to think of the upcoming asinine plot, which will surely do its best not to offend anyone, but appease even the most sadistic of dictatorships instead.

Stop demonizing businessmen, and Western states, and let’s bring back the old enemy, the Kremlin and Chinese communists. Make James Bond the hero of a free world yet again, rather than the champion of a socialist international.

Continue exploring:

Aviezer Tucker of Harvard University on “The Legacies of Totalitarianism”, Transition and Populism in Central Europe

Liberal Order and Its Backlash: Transition and Realignment in Eastern Europe and the West

Mate Hajba
Free Market Foundation