No smartphones. No exploding pens. No ejector seats. No rocket-powered submarines.
“It’s a brave new world,” gadget-maker Q tells James Bond in the new film “Skyfall.” The new film, released on the 50th anniversary of the storied franchise, presents a gadget-free Bond fighting with both brains and brawn against a high-tech villain with computer prowess Bill Gates would be envious of. What inspired such a villain?
"Stuxnet," producer Michael G. Wilson told FoxNews.com. The Stuxnet virus, described as the atom bomb of cyberwarfare, was released in 2010 to cripple Iran’s burgeoning nuclear ambitions. It is widely believed to be a joint project of Israel and the United States -- and rather than pocket video cameras and secret guns, this is the world today’s spies live in.
“There is a cyberwar that has been going on for some time, and we thought we’d bring that into the fore and let people see how it could be going on,” Wilson said.
'There is a cyberwar that has been going on for some time.'
- Bond producer Michael G. Wilson
The film aims to explain the relevance of MI6 and the double-O unit in today’s techno-terrorism environment. In “Skyfall,” Ex-patriot and rogue MI6 agent Silva (played by a creepy Javier Bardem) hacks the government’s computers and threatens to publicly release the cover identities of embedded agents around the world.
“Rig an election in Uganda? Just point and click. Bring down a multinational by manipulating stock prices? Done,” Bardem says in the film.
M sends 007 to take out the agent she trained, an unstable inverted reflection of Bond, while the Prime Minister’s appointed consultant Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) is threatening her command, citing the lack of necessity for trained killers living in the shadows while terror is primarily done via point and click. (Read the full review.)
It’s a far more realistic Bond film than, say, “Moonraker.”
“I think people probably think, ‘Oh it’s Bond, it’s fantasy,” Wilson told FoxNews.com. “If anything, we were very constrained with the possibilities. When you look at what they have managed to do, it’s amazing.”
Ironically, in this high-tech world, Bond is armed not with the traditional arsenal of gadgets and gizmos. Instead Q -- played by Ben Whishaw, a 32-going-on-18 British actor-- hands him a slim briefcase filled with the most basic of spy tools.
“A gun and a radio. Hardly Christmas!” joked Barbara Broccoli, the other half of the production duo responsible for the Bond brand.
“The reality is, yes we all use technology and technology is very helpful, but ultimately it does come down to human beings out in the field doing things that require extraordinary guts and commitment,” Broccoli told FoxNews.com.
The film does make a brief nod to Bond’s gadget-filled past -- at one point, 007 threatens Judi Dench’s M with the ejector seat. But the tech know-how comes down mainly to Q, portrayed by Whishaw not as a scowling official but as the all-knowing egghead from around the corner.
Skyfall doesn’t defy expectations, of course. The film delivers the amazing stunts, actions scenes, exotic locations and beautiful bombshells the viewer expects. But it’s truly a brave new world for Bond -- one far more like the real world we live in.
Let’s hope there’s a real Bond offscreen battling for us.
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.