Super Visions: Spies I espouse

Is a specter haunting spy movies?

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  • Courtesy MGM? ?
  • SNOW JOB: Daniel Craig brings a superb mix of damage and danger to his portrayal of 007.? ?

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I’m into Bondage. ?? ?

That’s big-B Bondage, by the way, fandom that has James Bond and friends (and enemies) as its fetishes. Much in the way that I grew up reading comics, I also grew up watching James Bond movies and later read a bunch of the Ian Fleming novels that inspired the films. ?? ?

A huge part of my Bondage profile has musical roots, thanks to composer John Barry. I imagine I’ve spent at least as much time listening to his film scores for Thunderball (we wore the grooves off that record; I’m hearing “Death of Fiona” as I tap the keys), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (mainly its chase theme, which I never tire of), and Diamonds Are Forever (for which even the music was cheesy) as I have watching Bond movies. There’d have to be an underlier for my fetish to endure as strongly as it has because, bluntly put, the early Bond films are, by and large, awful. Unwatchably so. You Only Live Twice easily makes my list of the worst films I’ve ever sat through entirely. I can liken it only to a Toho Godzilla movie minus the polished special effects and plus sides of ham-fisted “intrigue” and hammier acting. Yes, From Russia With Love is a fine thriller, and Goldfinger has its moments, but overall? Junk. ?? ?

But I’m not here hammer old James Bond. Much. Instead, I’m staggering under the weight of cinematic espionage tonnage. Know how there’s nothing coming from Hollywood anymore but superheroes? Well, bullshit: Clearly, half of what’s coming from Hollyweird is super spies. In theaters now: Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ comic The Secret Service. In the trailer park: director Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. Of this incoming stealth barrage I’m most excited by the prospect of Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo in U.N.C.L.E., given how much I enjoyed him as Clark Kent in Man of Steel. Plus: Guy Ritchie! Mr. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels himself! Yeah, I know, too frenetic for some folks. And just my speed. ?? ?

But let’s get back to Commander Bond for a moment. As I’ve already written in this blog, I’m ever so pleased to see Ernst Stavro Blofeld back in the hands of the Bond franchise after years of legal entanglements, and doubly pleased that Christoph Waltz might be playing him in SPECTRE. One reason I’m so harsh in my estimation of the pre-Daniel Craig Bonds is my conviction that they finally perfected the character onscreen once they adapted Casino Royale for the third time. Craig communicates an ideal mix of damage and danger that puts him in a league of extraordinary gentlemen agents all his own. And the tough-minded realpolitik of the most recent Bonds rinses the preposterous lows of the Roger Moore years right out of my head. ?? ?

As for why we might be getting this surfeit of secret operatives, coincidence is the likely culprit … but conspiracy theories and spies go together like hand and fingerprint-concealing glove. Know how some people point to electronic war games as an especially insidious form of recruitment? Well, consider that Hollywould usually needs the cooperation of the government to portray our military convincingly. Consider further that our of-late embattled friends at No Such Agency have a black budget, one whose dollar amounts themselves are secret. ?? ?

I always took the sinister covert organization in Brian DePalma’s The Fury to be a cartoon version of the Fort George Meade gang — one of whose operatives flashes his credentials in that film, gets a that-does-not-compute response, and says*, “We don’t spend a dime on public relations.” But what if the real No Such Agency spends many dimes on normalizing the covert aspects of our government? What if part of that black budget goes toward Hollywood productions that cement our notions of the rectitude of spies? ?? ?

Stranger things have proved to be true. ?? ?

*More or less, anyway.??

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