This all makes for compelling, entertaining escapism on the screen. It affirms both the redeemed institution and the redeeming individual. Bond lives, baddies die and MI6, reconciled with Bond, lumbers on. As Daniel Craig’s Bond says at the end of Quantum of Solace, “Well, then the right people kept their jobs.” But it’s a romantic shot that misses reality. As anyone following the current U.S. presidential campaign can attest, making a name for oneself by working against the very institution one is part of, doubling down on romantic hyper-individualism, dispatching without a second thought the power of institutional knowledge, expertise, leverage—it all makes for rather frustrating, shallow politics on both the left and the right.
John Richard Cookson is an assistant managing editor at the National Interest.
Image: Creative Commons/Flickr.