Thunderball James Bond flies off in a jetpack when he steps out, puts on the jetpack and slips it on. It’s a stupid thing to do, because everyone, except for the Rocketeer and the Mandalorians, looks dumb in a jetpack. The jetpack was an actual prototype. It was easy to put on, and he hovered slowly away. My love for Bond movies became real.
Since then, I have watched many spy films and shows. Yes, I have enjoyed shows like The Recruit and Slow Horses which aim for a certain level of realism. I’ve also watched an entire mess of Tom Clancy spy brother shows (mostly on Amazon Prime). My favorite spy shows are the ones with weird gadgets. I love the moment when the Q-style character gives the hero all of the cool tools he needs to fight the bad guys, and they show him how the gadgets work. This happens about 20 minutes before end credits. This kind of scene and gadgets are no longer as common as in the past. They’re gone, and I have been trying to find out why.
We want to see something that’s a little bit ahead of its time, right? We want to be assured that our intelligence agencies are ahead.” We want to see something a bit ahead of the times, right?We need to know that our intelligence agencies will be ahead .
Albion is about the fine line that separates cool gadgets from absurd gadgets. When you cross this line, the spy movie starts to feel more like an action film than a spy movie. Even our spy gadgets and heroes must be relatable. She uses the paragliding device Pierce Brosnan’s Bond builds in Die Another Day as an example of how not to do it.
Do not worry. I have also tried hard to forget about it. Let’s all take a minute to remember this together.
The entire sequence is unrealistic, from the moment Bond rides a wave on a fuselage surfboard to the point where he builds a surboard. It’s even worse when you compare it to the jetpack scene in Thunderball. The jetpack from Thunderball, however goofy it may be, is still based on reality. Bond wears a helmet which is both dorky and protective. He glides through the air, not like a toy on a rope, but on a working jetpack. He is not bending the laws of physics as Brosnan did in Bond, but rather defying them a little.
We have small personal helicopters and you may see an occasional drone that is a bit smarter in theory than it actually is. Spy films and television shows have largely done away with gadgets that were just on the edge of reality. It seems that the most powerful spy tools are those available at Best Buy.
It all makes sense. Wearing watches that track our movements and can make phone calls is a common practice. Our phones are as powerful (and often just as capable as) traditional computers, and they have all of our information. Even ugly smart glasses can do some of the things promised in spy movies.
We are pretty tech-savvy now. It’s harder to find the sweet spot in tech that is close to reality, without veering too far into science fiction. This is where hackers come in. Dr. Albion spoke with me and it was clear that the gadgets were gone. They had been replaced by a Swiss army knife-like tech person who could do everything.
It’s not only hackers who use USB sticks to control computers , Bluetooth sniffers, and watch that can destroy anyone’s wireless network. Many of us are able to do this right now, if we shop at the right DIY shops and hang out in the correct discords. Hackers who work in the spy genre are able to perform feats of godlike skill. They can do “pretty extraordinary amazing things,” said Dr. Albion.
When you think about it for a moment, I’m sure that half a dozen hackers come to your mind. True Lies and Mission Impossible both have one. Super hackers are a rare sight in spy-fi series like Slow Horses or Killing Eve. You can’t even shake a stick in the spy genre without coming across someone who is capable of hacking every mainframe mentioned.
The wonder of what hackers can do on a computer sometimes hits the same sweet spot as James Bond putting on a jetpack. In the news, we’ve seen what information can do in the wrong hands. There’s both something disquieting, and comforting, about an intelligence agency full of people that sifts through data like savants. They only use it for good.
It’s not much of a difference between a spy wearing smart glasses that have incredible facial recognition tech and one who hacks into the NSA using a stolen computer from a cafe. If you’re anything like me, then you are more likely to believe the hacker rather than the smart glasses.
There’s a big problem with replacing gadgets by hackers: They’re not as much fun to look at. It’s not as exciting to watch someone type on the computer screen as it is to see a jetpack, or a wireless pager used in With Love From Russia in 1963 or those spyglasses. Even a fake teeth filled with poisonous gases is not as entertaining to watch. Even the super-powerful hackers in modern spy shows are more plausible than jetpacks, but they’re still not as entertaining.