Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Haiku of OSINT for 11/11/15

Secret agent man
Unbelievable movie
Really popular

Assessing The James Bond "Spectre" Film

I have never before watched a James Bond film in a theater. I now know why after seeing Spectre today at my local cineplex. I paid to watch an uninformed fantasy about intelligence work. Once is okay, because I learned enough. Here comes the first ever movie review on Third Eye OSINT.

We can begin with elements that would never make sense in the real world of intelligence. Geopolitical differences between rival powers somehow become irrelevant (the "Nine Eyes" sharing arrangement between the Anglo-West countries and presumably the BRICS bloc). Field agents and agency principals display a stunning naivete about pervasive digital surveillance (Bond, M, and Moneypenny discussing background research). Operatives discuss sensitive policy matters out in the open in unsecure areas in front of uncleared people (Bond and Q at the Austrian hotel with Dr. Swann). Technical specialists plug away on sensitive projects using computers whose displays are visible to anyone in a public area (Q typing while on the ski lift). Small caliber handguns can hit targets at enormously long ranges (the speedboat chasing the helicopter) and also blow up facilities the size of a city block (the hotel at the beginning, the desert facility at the end). All manner of vehicles are conveniently placed for a quick getaway (Bond's plane in snowy Austria, his helicopter at the desert facility, and his speedboat on the River Thames), and of course our hero always knows how to operate them. Our hero also always uses his real identity and is never under an assumed cover. He wastes no time getting under the covers with his female leads while their lives are obviously in danger. Yeah, find me a real intelligence system that operates this way.

The standard Bond film tropes are everywhere. The world's most famous secret agent wrecks his very expensive car, defeats a larger man in a fistfight, easily shoots multiple assailants without reloading, and saves his favorite woman just in time. The evil leader always reveals his entire sinister plan to Bond, and Bond gets away without breaking a sweat. It's great that Bond's women are becoming increasingly competent fighters in their own right. Female moviegoers need strong heroines, but the heroines still show glaring emotional weaknesses and need to be rescued from very improbable dangers. Dr. Swann inexplicably leaves the London safehouse to wander away from Bond, only to be captured for display. A truly competent operative would have either stayed at the safehouse during the operation's most crucial phase, or volunteered to go with Bond as backup. Alas, the plot always needs a traditional resolution, and the damsel in distress must always end up as the plot device motivating Bond's final heroics.

Monica Bellucci made an indelible impression while conducting the necessary exposition in Rome. She proves that desire knows no expiration date. Kudos to the producers for casting an older woman in a seductive role. Ms. Bellucci is much closer in age to Daniel Craig (Mr. Bond) than Lea Seydoux (Dr. Swann), so the romantic chemistry of an age-appropriate couple makes more sense. I also think Dave Bautista is getting typecast as the heavy who goes light on dialogue. I wouldn't want to fight the guy. Bond fought the guy on the train without getting a scratch or even getting the carnation dislodged from his jacket's lapel, but that's why he's Bond.

The James Bond franchise is great, mindless fun. Many American men who entered adult life without surrendering their adolescent imagination must see Bond as a role model. He always gets disciplined, suspended, or fired but somehow retains access to all of the resources he needs to do his job. The magical Bond narrative is great escapism for anyone who can't escape a boring life or defeat a petty tyrant at work. I overthink a lot of Hollywood product that isn't aimed at me.