James Bond’s China Problem

Commentary The latest James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” has been met with rave reviews. However, the movie’s plot, detached from the geopolitical realities of today, tells a much deeper story. Today, China—more specifically, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—poses one of the biggest, if not the biggest, threat to the world. Of course, a Bond storyline could never reflect this undeniable fact. The reasons why are as obvious as they are regrettable. As some authors have noted, the latest offering from Bond, the 25th in the spy series, shows just how far 007 has departed from the real-world script. Close your eyes and imagine Mr. Bond battling bad guys from Beijing’s Ministry of State Security. You can’t, can you? That’s because the CCP, largely in control of Hollywood, would never allow this to happen. There was a time when Bond was very much in-sync with the times, fighting enemies that audiences could recognize. In “From Russia With Love,” for example, released back in 1963, the Soviet Union was a distinct threat. During Brezhnev’s rule, the Soviet state quickly expanded its military operations—a “superpower” was born. The world was on full alert and this was reflected in the James Bond plot. Today, it’s simply not possible to make something like “From China With Love”—unless, of course, it happens to be a literal love movie based in China. In the rather forgettable “Live and Let Die,” released a decade after “From Russia With Love,” the very dapper Roger Moore headed to the Caribbean to monitor the operations of an evil dictator, Dr. Kananga. At the very same time, in the real world, Jean-Claude Duvalier was the president of Haiti. During his 15-year reign of terror, thousands of Haitians were killed or tortured. Duvalier was very much an evil dictator. Prior to Duvalier’s presidency, his father, François Duvalier, a tyrant of epic proportions, held the position. This added a deal of validity to “Live and Let Die,” even though the movie itself was rather tame. Fast forward to autumn of 2021, and we have James Bond, played by the always excellent Daniel Craig, enjoying the good life in Jamaica. Bond’s peaceful existence is quickly shattered when Felix Leiter, a CIA agent/close friend from his past life, shows up. Bond reluctantly accepts the mission of rescuing a kidnapped scientist from a dangerous villain, named Safin. Played by Rami Malek, Safin is a preposterous bad guy. Badly burned to emphasize his villainy, Safin lives in a lair. Less Dr. No and more Dr. Evil, he proves to be a farcical nemesis. Of course, this ridiculousness suits the CCP perfectly fine. It’s common knowledge that Hollywood has, for years, allowed the CCP to essentially write the scripts, deleting any language or scenes deemed inappropriate. As a huge report published by PEN America so aptly demonstrates, over the decade, “as Beijing has expanded its global role as a world power, leading trade partner, sovereign investor, and cultural influence,” the CCP’s “domestic patterns of censorship and control have extended beyond China’s borders.” Besides coercing politicians, the CCP has targeted “publishers, authors, scholars, writers, journalists, and others who address topics of interest to China, regardless of their citizenship or where they are based,” the report said. James Bond, a renegade who answers to no one, does in fact answer to the CCP. Of course, Bond is not alone. In early September, Paramount Pictures postponed the release of “Top Gun: Maverick” until May of 2022. Three and a half decades on from his first outing, Tom Cruise is back. He plays Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a bold and daring soul who answers to no one—well, no one except those in Beijing. The new Top Gun is backed by Tencent, a company with close ties to the CCP. In the first Top Gun, released in 1986, Cruise proudly wore the iconic jacket patches emblazoned with the Japanese and Taiwanese flags. Now, though, in the trailer for Cruise’s second outing, the flags have been swapped out, instead replaced by two unclear “inoffensive” symbols. Craig and Cruise, both outstanding actors, can only work with the scripts they’re given. Those in Hollywood, beholden to the CCP, are to blame. Sadly, the days of movies actually standing for something of substance appear to be long gone–a fact evidenced by the popularity of certain franchises in China. From Transformers to Fast and the Furious, these harmless, juvenile offerings make big money for both Hollywood and China, without anyone being offended. Well, except those in the United States. As the aforementioned report noted, although criticism of China is absolutely forbidden, criticism of the United States appears to be actively encouraged. This, according to the authors, is a very recent trend. “Hollywood movies have not hesitated to criticize America’s political leaders, to the point where some Americans have argued that filmmakers and film stars are unpatriotic.” Which brings us back to 007. As long as the C

James Bond’s China Problem

Commentary

The latest James Bond movie, “No Time to Die,” has been met with rave reviews. However, the movie’s plot, detached from the geopolitical realities of today, tells a much deeper story.

Today, China—more specifically, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)—poses one of the biggest, if not the biggest, threat to the world. Of course, a Bond storyline could never reflect this undeniable fact. The reasons why are as obvious as they are regrettable.

As some authors have noted, the latest offering from Bond, the 25th in the spy series, shows just how far 007 has departed from the real-world script. Close your eyes and imagine Mr. Bond battling bad guys from Beijing’s Ministry of State Security. You can’t, can you? That’s because the CCP, largely in control of Hollywood, would never allow this to happen.

There was a time when Bond was very much in-sync with the times, fighting enemies that audiences could recognize. In “From Russia With Love,” for example, released back in 1963, the Soviet Union was a distinct threat. During Brezhnev’s rule, the Soviet state quickly expanded its military operations—a “superpower” was born. The world was on full alert and this was reflected in the James Bond plot. Today, it’s simply not possible to make something like “From China With Love”—unless, of course, it happens to be a literal love movie based in China.

In the rather forgettable “Live and Let Die,” released a decade after “From Russia With Love,” the very dapper Roger Moore headed to the Caribbean to monitor the operations of an evil dictator, Dr. Kananga. At the very same time, in the real world, Jean-Claude Duvalier was the president of Haiti. During his 15-year reign of terror, thousands of Haitians were killed or tortured. Duvalier was very much an evil dictator. Prior to Duvalier’s presidency, his father, François Duvalier, a tyrant of epic proportions, held the position. This added a deal of validity to “Live and Let Die,” even though the movie itself was rather tame.

Fast forward to autumn of 2021, and we have James Bond, played by the always excellent Daniel Craig, enjoying the good life in Jamaica. Bond’s peaceful existence is quickly shattered when Felix Leiter, a CIA agent/close friend from his past life, shows up. Bond reluctantly accepts the mission of rescuing a kidnapped scientist from a dangerous villain, named Safin. Played by Rami Malek, Safin is a preposterous bad guy. Badly burned to emphasize his villainy, Safin lives in a lair. Less Dr. No and more Dr. Evil, he proves to be a farcical nemesis.

Of course, this ridiculousness suits the CCP perfectly fine. It’s common knowledge that Hollywood has, for years, allowed the CCP to essentially write the scripts, deleting any language or scenes deemed inappropriate. As a huge report published by PEN America so aptly demonstrates, over the decade, “as Beijing has expanded its global role as a world power, leading trade partner, sovereign investor, and cultural influence,” the CCP’s “domestic patterns of censorship and control have extended beyond China’s borders.” Besides coercing politicians, the CCP has targeted “publishers, authors, scholars, writers, journalists, and others who address topics of interest to China, regardless of their citizenship or where they are based,” the report said. James Bond, a renegade who answers to no one, does in fact answer to the CCP.

Of course, Bond is not alone. In early September, Paramount Pictures postponed the release of “Top Gun: Maverick” until May of 2022. Three and a half decades on from his first outing, Tom Cruise is back. He plays Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a bold and daring soul who answers to no one—well, no one except those in Beijing. The new Top Gun is backed by Tencent, a company with close ties to the CCP. In the first Top Gun, released in 1986, Cruise proudly wore the iconic jacket patches emblazoned with the Japanese and Taiwanese flags. Now, though, in the trailer for Cruise’s second outing, the flags have been swapped out, instead replaced by two unclear “inoffensive” symbols.

Craig and Cruise, both outstanding actors, can only work with the scripts they’re given. Those in Hollywood, beholden to the CCP, are to blame. Sadly, the days of movies actually standing for something of substance appear to be long gone–a fact evidenced by the popularity of certain franchises in China. From Transformers to Fast and the Furious, these harmless, juvenile offerings make big money for both Hollywood and China, without anyone being offended. Well, except those in the United States.

As the aforementioned report noted, although criticism of China is absolutely forbidden, criticism of the United States appears to be actively encouraged. This, according to the authors, is a very recent trend. “Hollywood movies have not hesitated to criticize America’s political leaders, to the point where some Americans have argued that filmmakers and film stars are unpatriotic.”

Which brings us back to 007. As long as the CCP controls the Hollywood narrative, we can expect to see fewer movies reflecting the realities of today’s world. Bond, very much shaken and stirred by the rogues in Beijing, has lost all relevance. Because of this, contrary to popular belief, now is the perfect time for Bond to die.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


John Mac Ghlionn

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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the likes of the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, The Spectator US, and other respectable outlets. He is also a contributor to The American Conservative.