Gimmee a bad guy I can hate

Having moved on from the Penguins of Propaganda, Michael Medved turns his keen critical eye on James Bond for fighting all the wrong bad guys:

The new 007 movie “Casino Royale” fell short of blockbuster status at the box office but drew some of the strongest reviews of any movie in the long series depicting the exploits of the celebrated Mr. Bond.

Let’s stop right here to call bullshit on Medved in his very first sentence. Not a “blockbuster“?:

Topping $300 million worldwide, “Casino Royale” is on the way to surpassing the $432 million total of “Die Another Day” to become the top-grossing Bond movie, said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony.

But’s it’s not a “blockbuster”, it’s just going to gross about a half billion dollars. That’s different.

Onward and downward, Michael:

For instance, Syndicated columnist Froma Harrop wrote: “In the post 9/11 era, James Bond can’t be as much fun as he once was. And in the new movie ‘Casino Royale’ he’s not mean to be, either. ‘Given the world situation,’ producer Barbara Broccoli told an assembled media, ‘we felt the need to do something more realistic and more serious.’… Some events in ‘Casino Royale’ seem ripped from the newswires. There’s an attempted attack on a passenger airliner, a chase scene through African misery and a torture episode… In short, ‘Casino Royale’ plunges the audience head-first into 2006.”

It’s certainly true that this Bond faces more believable threats than his predecessors in fantasies like “Goldfinger” or “Moonraker,” but for all the references to international terrorism the movie remains more silly than serious because it contains no references whatever to violent, conspiratorial threats by Islamist fanatics. In place of the diabolical jihadists who threaten to blow up our cities in the real world, the movie depicts an international terror network comprised entirely of suave Europeans and subhuman thugs from sub-Sharan Africa. Actual counter-terrorism combatants focus their attention on Muslim killers and plotters in every continent but in the latest “Bond” adventure this dire threat simply doesn’t exist.

In this regard, the movie follows the tradition established by nearly all Hollywood thrillers since 9/11. In “Sum of All Fears,” the Iranian-Palestinian terrorists of Tom Clancy’s novel became German neo-Nazis led by Alan Bates; in “Bad Company” with Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock the bad-guys are Serbian, in the airline nightmare “Red Eye” they’re Russian, and in Jodie Foster’s “Flight Plan” they’re American security personnel. The “Mission Impossible” and “Bourne” movies consistently feature assorted non-Islamic Europeans or Americans (like the truly chilling Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the most recent “Mission”)….

Of course, in this case the producers actually decided to, well, let Anthony Lane explain it all to you:

The plot, unusually for a Bond picture, leans heavily on the novel. Bond is up against Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), who has a six-foot-tall mistress, a weepy eye, and nothing to cry about. His pleasure is gambling, and his career as a banker takes him to selected trouble spots, where he likes to meet the locals and help them with their plans for terrorism. What sets Le Chiffre apart from Bond’s preceding nemeses is that he has absolutely no interest in running the planet, preferring instead to profit nicely from its ruin. This is a welcome twist, one of the pitiable things about the 007 franchise being its fixation on global conquest—a cheesy homage, I often think, to the ubiquity of the Bond brand itself.

Of course, Medved completely downplays the motivation of both the English and American’s interest in capturing the Le Chiffre character (you’ll just have to see the movie), but that would undercut his boilerplate whine about political correctness runamuck in Hollywood. The point is, Medved wanted a movie that would pass Little Green Football focus-group muster, where the bad guys wear turbans, eats dates from a bowl, and demand that the Bond girl be “bathed and perfumed and brought to my tent”.

Medved finishes:

Today, the Islamists already attack the entertainment industry for alleged Zionist bias, despite the absence of a single major studio release (no, not one) of the last thirty years that offers a distinctly positive vision of Israel, and despite the obvious, irrational, and ultimately shameful shyness about showing Islamo-Nazis as the demented, degenerate, terrorists they truly are.

Looks like Israel needs their own James Bond to make Michael happy. And no, according to Medved, Avner Kaufman doesn’t count.

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....