Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : November 24th 2015 Contents A24
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, November 24, 2015
No, it s not Skyfall. Right
from the opening chords of Sam
Smith s sombre theme song, it
was clear that things were going
to continue be a bit different in
Sam Mendes second outing as
director of a James Bond film.
It shouldn t have been sur-
prising. Mendes made his name
finding worldly relevance in the
words of Shakespeare, so sound-
ing out sophisticated resonance
in the far more quickly dated
pulp thrillers of Ian Fleming
must have been tempting.
The fourth outing of Daniel
Craig as James Bond is the coda
of a remarkable quartet of action
films, and a kind of pocket uni-
verse within the largely carefree
and frivolous world of Bond.
If Casino Royale, the well-
received reboot of the franchise,
was The Innocence of James,
and Quantum of Solace was
Bond in the Wilderness, then
exploration of the popular anti-
hero---offered Bond: Broken but
film, Spectre, asks, rather insis-
tently, Must there be a Bond?
Spectre offers fond but fleeting
remembrances of other
times. The Aston Martin DB-5.
Blofeld and the cat. A forgotten
Hildebrand Rarities as a safe
house. Train scenes that echo
Casino Royale as well as From
Russia With Love. Fun on snowy
But the story, a tortured tale
of youthful rivalry and a villain
too close to modern concerns
for comfort, is some distance
from fanciful death satellites and
a raid on Fort Knox.
At risk is the modern treas-
ure, surveillance information, as
the now mandatory ruthless
criminal organisation plots con-
trol of the world s security feeds.
A real-world evil genius
wouldn t bother building gleam-
ing metal installations in a crater
in the desert.
He d just buy Google and
Facebook and wave for the cam-
eras, smiling and promising "I
won t be evil, really." Spectre s
boardroom in a Roman castle
and the casual executive
accounting of death and mayhem
there are probably a bit too close
to the nightmares stoked in the
era of Edward Snowden and the
Data is far too vulnerable to
social engineering and skilful
hacking for Spectre to seem like
part of an entertaining
fantasy, despite the historical
penchant of the Bond producers
These columns consist of synthe-
sised material from across a broad
range of my interests. Lately, I have
been intrigued by the mind and have
focused on directly experiencing it
through attentive observation. The
mind is very interesting, that is if you
can manage to pay attention to it, and
not let it consume you.
There are aspects of life, albeit in
swimming training too, that one might
describe as gruelling which require the
ability to totally escape reality and retreat
into a rich inner world of thought.
Swimming in the mind and detached
from immediate surroundings, the body
seems to carry on as if under autopilot.
Physically, when this happens, areas
of the brain that process sensory infor-
mation become less active while there
is more activity in what is referred to
as the default mode network that goes
into overdrive---active when we are
remembering, and imagining. It s as if
we have been designed to escape an
unpleasant reality of absolute boredom
or pain by escaping into our thoughts.
Having a propensity towards intro-
spection might provide entertainment
during the gruelling monotony of
endurance training, but that does not
necessarily mean that one will be a good
competitor. On the other hand, to com-
pete to the best of one s ability requires
complete focus which arises from the
cultivation of a quite opposite state in
which the mind becomes very quiet;
referred to as the flow state or the zone.
This same state seems to arise in
moments of intense danger when all of
our attention becomes focused on the
• Continues on Page A25
state of mind
for scanning the news headlines for
MI:6 is about to disappear in a
ministry merger, the double-ohs are
to be retired or more likely liquidated,
leaving Bond, for the fourth film in
a row, conducting his own violent
rogue investigation, unfettered by
the oversight and control of his gov-
If Craig was a bit browner and
wore a bushy beard, this would
be the story of a feared, clever
and unrelenting terrorist.
Sam Mendes does not seem
unaware of this. Bond moves
through a strangely muted world
of chaos and brutality.
The opening scenes, shot in Mexico
during a colourful The Day of the
Dead, are all shades of beige. The
snow surrounding the cabin where
Bond meets the elusive Mr White is
dingy and grey. The shining metal
structures built by the villain in a
bland brown desert conspicuously
fail to gleam.
Every building 007 enters finds
him wreathed in dull smoke, either
a pall of destruction or the result of
an infatuation with the fog machine.
Sam Mendes nukes the franchise.
His M is embattled by an insistent
bureaucracy. The solid structure of
the spy agency s headquarters, already
shaken by the rot revealed in Skyfall,
is literally levelled in this finale.
Bond himself seems keener on
romance and relaxation by the film s
end, a shot of the DB-5 roaring
steadily off that s more chillingly final
than any cliffhanger scene I ve ever
All that s missing is a line of text
at the end, an inversion of the stan-
dard lead-in to the next installment,
"Will Bond return?
That would have fit right into the
dour mood of it all.
Daniel Craig s understated run of
four films took us from a wary, clum-
sy neophyte to world-weary warrior
in an insightful nine-year arc that
explored a modern forging of Her
Majesty s Bastard, the garlic-laced
knife that s unsheathed when diplo-
I honestly don t know where they
go from here with Bond 25.
The Spectre of the real
Daniel Craig as
James Bond in
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