“I’ve been here before,” starts Sam Smith’s theme for SPECTRE. And we have. SPECTRE recycles so many elements from previous Bonds in a rearrangement that is less than the sum of its parts: a seven-letter title and insight into Bond’s past like SKYFALL; a shadowy criminal organisation like QUANTUM; Bond and his love interest getting to know each other on a train like CASINO ROYALE; a high-speed boat chase down the Thames starting from the MI6 Building like WORLD.
There’s a lack of political imagination to these Craig Bonds that is quite fatalistic. In both QUANTUM and SPECTRE, Bond faces vast systemic criminal enterprises and then goes on to deal with one figurehead but keeps the organisations intact. Quantum, Spectre, Nine Eyes all persist. The screenwriters acknowledge that the world’s issues—climate change, global surveillance—are systemic but like our political leaders have no idea how to actually resolve them.