(I wrote this post before I saw Cienna's below—but I guess we're all thinking about Skyfall today.)
The bad guy.
I went to see Skyfall with some friends last night. It was fine for a Bond movie, and I agree with Paul's assessment that its opulent cinematography is its greatest strength, especially from the front row of the Cinerama balcony, where nobody's head is in the way and your eyes float in midair with the enormous screen. And Judi Dench is always a joy as the iron lady M.
But nobody told me its villain was a not-so-thinly veiled portrait of Julian Assange—or at least a US/British government fantasy of what Assange (who is still holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London) means.
Computer bank as terrorist weapon.
It's almost too obvious: Silva (Javier Bardem) is a pale-haired genius whose diabolical plan, besides a psychodrama regarding M, is to reveal state secrets with his evil, evil computers. (Cue Anonymous, LulzSec, and the rest of the gang.) One of the film's MI6 agents describes Silva using a diabolical-sounding system—bouncing his computer activity between servers across the globe so he can't be traced! (Also known as Tor.)
Using YouTube (another devilishly public platform) Silva reveals the identities of secret agents working overseas. Compare that to this representative BBC story from 2010:
New York Congressman Pete King has called for the US Attorney General to designate Wikileaks a terrorist organisation and to prosecute founder Julian Assange for espionage.
Much of the criticism of Wikileaks, though, revolves around the notion that releasing such information risks lives.
Identities of informants could be compromised, spies exposed, and the safety of human rights activists, journalists and dissidents jeopardised when information of their activities is made public, the argument goes.
One of Skyfall's motifs is a recurring argument that the British government, in order to protect its people, needs to operate in secrecy—"in the shadows" as M says over and over again. The villain, with his evil expertise, wants to shine dangerous, destabilizing floodlights into those shadows. It's a movie, of course, so Silva's pathological plans are defensible per se. But they clearly reflect government anxieties about hacktivism—specifically Wikileaks and its pale king.
I wonder if Assange has seen the movie. Maybe he'll have to wait until the DVD release.