plug on the nefarious operation.rnThe Bond fihns have nothing to offerrnin the way of suspense or character development;rnwhat they provide is a ritual inrnwhich ever}’ move is as predictable as in arnJapanese Noh play.rnWhy has this particular ritual so captivatedrnaudiences for 57 years? Other filmsrnhave employed the same ingredients,rnbut never as effectively. The ArnoldrnSchwarzenegger vehicle True Lies triedrnand failed miserably. Mike Mvers’rnAustin Powers japes falter because thevrnare little more than parodies of what is alreadyrna parody. (The Bond franchise hasrnalways been smart enough to give its materialrnan arch, ironic st)’le, as if to say tornthe audience, “This is ridiculous, isn’t it?rnBut let’s enjoy ourselves.”)rnThe truth is, all the Bond copies,rnwhether straight or comic, have left outrnthe essential ingredient: Bond’s attituderntoward technology, which invariably surfacesrnin our hero’s obligatory interviewrnwith Q, chief of technical operations. Inrnthis de rigueur moment, Q (DesmondrnLlewellvn, who died in an automobilernaccident last December at 85) briefsrnBond oir his most recent creation in anrnever-more startling line of lethal gadgetryrn—cigarettes that fire miniature missiles,rnelegant sports cars equipped withrnradar and machine guns, getaway helicoptersrnfidly armed with heat-seekingrnrockets that collapse to satchel-size, hirnTWINE, it’s a remote-controlled BMWrnwith enough firepower to take out a tankrnbattalion. Having explained the functionsrnof his deadly toys, Q reluctantlvrnhands them over, a note of pained exasperationrnentering his voice as he pleadsrnwith the smirking 007 to take care of hisrnprized inventioirs.rnIt’s here that the plot ritual really begins.rnWhen will these wonderworkersrnreappear? Wliat awful menace will theyrnenable Bond to overcome? Whateverrnsuspense the series can still muster derivesrnfrom these questions. But the gadgetryrnitself doesn’t matter much; ifs howrnBond treats it that makes the series compellingl}^rndistinctive. WTiether Bond dispatchesrnhis enemies with his cigaretternmissiles or his car’s firepower, we knowrnthat afterward he will dump his equipmentrncasually, even contemptuously, asrnif it were of no account.rnIt is Bond’s irreverent use-and-disposernattitude toward high-tech equipment thatrnhas made him such an attracti’ely subversivernhero for our time. For the generalrnaudience, bewildered by daily reportsrnof dioxin spills, nuclear proliferation, andrngerm warfare, what could be more satisfyingrnthan an unflappable hero so singularlyrnunimpressed b’ technology, howeverrnlethal?rnBond’s disdain for technolog}’ cannotrnfail to warm the heart of anyone who hasrnstruggled with a stalled car in sub-zerornweather or argued futilely with surly mechanicsrnabout how best to fix it. Our herornis so coolly capable that he can even repairrnthe ultimate appliance malfunction:rna primed thermonuclear device countingrndown to doomsday. He merely reachesrninto the ticking mechanism and instinctivelyrnpulls the correct wires to save thernworld once more.rnTWINE hits all these notes but does sornin an uncharacteristically self-consciousrnmanner. Apted seems determined to expandrnupon the series’ subtext right fromrnthe start.rnEollowing the time-honored formula,rnthe opening credits are accompanied byrnyoung ladies dancing in silhouettedrnnakedness against spectacularly colorfulrnbackgrounds. This time, however, theyrnaren’t entirely unclothed. Slathered inrnblack oil, thc- shine iridescently asrnthough their bodies were more metalrnthan flesh. The images may only havernbeen meant to set the stage for Bond’s assignmentrnto protect Elektra King (SophiernMarceau), a young woman who has inheritedrnher parents’ oil business. Yet Irncouldn’t help thinking that the dancersrnlook and move remarkably like the mechanicalrnwoman in Fritz Lang’s 1926rnclassic Metropolis, whose sinuous dancingrnbewitches wealth- young capitalistsrnwith the promise of untiring, uncomplaining,rnand eer-compliant labor,rnLang’s film is a nai’e but powerfully visualizedrnallegory of what happens when humanrnbeings allow themselves to be seducedrnby technological expedience:rnThey begin to treat people as they do machines,rnthinking of men and women asrnuseful tools rather than as ends in themselves.rnThis vision of technology’ as a corrupting,rndehumanizing force has always beenrnimplicit, if undeveloped, in the Bondrnfilms. The illains are inariably coldbloodedrnrationalists who have no compunctionrnabout slaughtering their ownrnminor operatives. Their closer henchmenrnare somewhat insulated from thisrnfate because they are likely to be morernmachine than human and thereforernmore reliably tractable: Red Grant, thernprogrammed sadist in From Russia WithrnLove; Odd-Job, the top-hat killer inrnColdfinger; Jaws, the metal-mouthed giantrnin The Spy Who Loved Me; Onatopp,rnthe human nutcracker in Goldeneye.rnThey all lack any flicker of compassion,rnoperating solely at their master’s discretion,rncontent to be mechanical monsters.rnIn TWINE, Apted pushes this themernfurther and deepens its implications. Hisrnvillain, the indiscriminate terrorist Renardrn(Robert Carlyle), is literally unfeeling.rnA bullet has lodged in his brain; hisrnnerve endings can no longer register eitherrnpain or pleasure. Immune to suffering,rnRenard is capable of making superhumanrnefforts to further his destructiverncause. In contrast. Bond tears his shoulderrnmuscles and tendons in the openingrnsequence, leaving him with a painful injuryrnthat doesn’t magically heal as moviernwounds traditionally do. Throughoutrnthe film, Brosnan winces and groansrnwhenever he puts more than usual strainrnon his right arm. The implication is unavoidable:rnRenard’s battle with Bond isrnone between cold, machine-like intelligencernand a feeling, struggling soul. Renardrnhas allowed himself to be reducedrnto a human instrument; Bond, though hernuses technology superbly, never surrendersrnto it. He remains his own man, howeverrnimperfect.rnThere is ample warrant for this in thernoriginal Bond novels. Ian Fleming oncernremarked that the besetting sin of ourrncentury is not any of the usual suspects —rnpride, greed, lust, enxy—but rather acedia,rnthe inability to feel strongly aboutrnanything. In perhaps his best novel, YournOnly Live Twice, Bond’s archri’al andrnwould-be nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld,rnconfesses to this malady when he explainsrnhis need to inflict as much pain onrnhis victims as possible. “There has developedrnin me a certain mental lameness, arndisinterest in humanity and its future,rnan utter boredom with the affairs ofrnmankind. So, not unlike the gourmet,rnwith his jaded palate, I now seek only thernhighly spiced, the sharp impact on therntastebuds, mental as well as physical.”rnLike lago, Blofeld’s only motive is disgustrnwirii all that lives because it reminds himrnof the failure of his hmnan feeling. UnlikernBond, he places his faith in technologyrnprecisely because it doesn’t requirernpersonal attachment. Renard’s case isrneven worse. As he says several times,rn”there’s no point to living without feelings.”rnHe is left with only one bitterlyrnthin pleasure: using technolog}’ to inflictrnas much harm as possible on those whorn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn