In the newest Bond movie, Spectre, there is a scene where bond is hooked up to a torture machine. He is told that

the first action will damage his eyesight and the the second action will cause him to forget all the faces he knew.

Both these actions occurred, but

he still remembers everyone's face, and 5 minutes later he is making precision shots from a large distance.

So it seems like the torture device had literally no effect on him. Is there a reason for this, or is it just poor movie making?

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    I don't remember the exact wording of the film, but the explanation that is given is that there is a random point in his head that, if drilled, would cause those side affects. I was under the impression that he was simply going to drill until he hit the right points. I don't remember if this is correct so I'm not adding it as an answer.
    – sanpaco
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 7:28
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    @sanpaco That seems strange because that drill was really tiny relative to his head, and the machine looked really fancy and expensive. Moreover, the antagonist didn't seem like the type of guy to say 'maybe I'll maim you, maybe nothing will happen, or maybe I'll nick an artery and lose my chance at an evil monologue' Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 7:32
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    I also had the interpretation that Blofeld said that he could destroy Bond's eyesight and memory with the machine, but not that he was going to do it immediately. Unfortunately, since the film is still in theaters, it is going to be hard to get the exact wording to confirm it. Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 19:04
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    just watched the movie and wanted to ask the same question. This is really senseless. Another point, why does the chair release bond after the explosion? Why construct a chair for torturing which has such a behaviour/a mechanical release option? My possible explanations for your question: 1. Blofeld had no idea what he is doing(but why such a construction and such explanations then?) 2. Blofeld was lying about the effects (but why should he do that?) 3. Bond has unusal Brain-antomy 4. Bond has superhero abilities 5. poor movie making
    – kl78
    Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 23:29
  • When I first saw Bond in the chair and Blofeld at the terminal, given Blofeld's link to the 9 Eyes intelligence, I thought he was going to access the nanomachines in his blood in order to torture him. I have no idea why they made this so ornate in terms of the plot.
    – user30324
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 0:55

3 Answers 3


I went and saw this again today and paid attention to the scene in question. My comment to the original question was close to, but not exactly correct (I had mentioned the drilling was random) so I'm posting as an answer while it is still fresh in my memory.

When Blofeld does the first drill he does mention that it will have the effect of

dulling vision as you mention

However, before he drills the second hole his words are roughly paraphrased as, "if the drill hits the blah blah, it will have the effect of"

losing recognition

The key word here being "if". That tells us that the machine, while likely fairly accurate, is not foolproof. And judging by the aftermath, we are led to draw the conclusion that they did not find the correct drill point.

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    Presumably if what happens next didn't happen, Blofeld would keep trying until he found the correct spot.
    – jeffm
    Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 20:10

I believe this scene shows a fallacy which is not uncommon in action movies - the idea that the strength and fortitude will somehow always overcome adversity.

Blofeld tells Bond:

"When the needle hits the point right here in the brain, you can't recognize no one! You will not remember her because she will be another face on your grave."

Now, there are a few potential explanations of what happened next.

Blofeld made a mistake, or Bond got lucky

It's possible Blofeld missed the spot he was aiming for, or correctly targeted it and Bond was lucky and avoided the worst of the damage. This may be possible, but feels unlikely to be.

Bond adjusts (and saves) himself

Bond does noticeably twitch as the drill is coming towards him (understandably so). It's possible he changes the angle the drill is impacting him ever so slightly, and thus avoids it hitting him in the exact spot it needed to for Blofeld's plan to work. Again, this is possible, but feels a little unlikely to me.

Bond's strength and desire to keep his memories overcome the pain

This is the least logical of the options, and yet I also think it's the most likely. We often see in action films our heroes overcoming things they really shouldn't be able to overcome. As the drill was going in, he looked into Madeleine's eyes and focused on remembering her - and by doing so was able to find the strength to overcome what was happening to him.

I believe this is the most likely option. Of course, another way to phrase this might be to simply call it a movie mistake. After all, you can't overcome brain damage by a brain drill via mental fortitude. But given the lack of other explanation, it seems the macho man Bond theory is the best one (in my view at least).

It is worth considering, as a side note, that the entire brain drill scene isn't exactly scientifically accurate. To quote from Dr. Cusimano:

"Aiming to erase Bond's memory of faces, the villain correctly identified the lateral fusiform gyrus as an area of the brain responsible for recognizing faces...But in practice, the drill was placed in the wrong area, where it likely would have triggered a stroke or massive hemorrhage."

Given the scientific inaccuracy of the scene, I'm hesitant to read too much into Blofeld's mistakes, or Bond's adjustments as theories, and instead I think his strength and desire are the most likely.

(Of course, a small part of the Internet has argued that everything that happened after the brain drill entered his skull was fantasy. I certainly don't believe that, but will leave it here for a reading!)


It did

Everything from the time that the second drill went into his brain was the imagination, hallucination, delusion of a brain-damaged man whose brain kept getting drilled. Bond made the best of it by imagining all sorts of things. Swann was just sitting and watching the man who she saw give her father a gun to kill himself. But Bond fantasized that she suddenly, after two drills, got up and said she loved him, and saved the day with the perfectly timed exploding watch throw. Bond was able to make a sniper shot from two hundred meters away with machine gun. They just don't have that sort of accuracy. Meanwhile, Bond got another skull drill. And another. And another...

REF: https://www.quora.com/Spoiler-In-Spectre-how-did-James-Bond-survive-the-brain-operation-without-adverse-effects


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