Skyfall written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan; directed by Sam Mendes (MGM, Danjaq, and Eon Productions, PG-13, 143 minutes)
Starring Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Bérénice Marlohe.
We Meet Again, Bond
Skyfall finds James Bond (Daniel Craig) presumed dead after a mission gone wrong. M (Judy Dench) makes the call to fire upon a mercenary whom Bond has tracked down. The catch, however, is that Bond is in the crosshairs of another agent. Battling this mercenary, there is no clean shot for Bond’s fellow agent, Eve (Naomie Harris). Upon taking the shot on M’s order, she hits Bond.
A few months later and connected to the mission leading to Bond’s MIA status, MI6 is in trouble for losing a list of British agents on active duty. A bomb goes off, set off by an anonymous computer hacker. Double-Oh-Seven learns of the bomb, and comes back to help out MI6. But, he’s a little worse for wear after his time off, not to mention the gunshot wound.
Bond is determined to help and save the day despite his aging body and the psychological trauma brought on by narrowly avoiding death. He tracks down the man, Silva (Javier Bardem), suspected of stealing the list and blowing up part of MI6, and Bond proves that an aging man can still save the day.
The Bond Brand
Donovan: Andrew, what draws you to a Bond film?
Andrew: Part of what draws me to the genre of the James Bond movie (yes, I think it deserves to be its own genre) is that I know what to expect every time, and I’m rarely let down. With Skyfall, the newest installment of the James Bond franchise, the same things were found; yet, I found myself in absolute awe of how it was executed. I think, perhaps, the writers added a few more themes to the mix which helped me feel this way.
Andrew: Always a fan of a James Bond movie, I’ve come to expect similar things from every single new one that comes out: a bond girl (or several), action scenes, unconvincing dialogue, a villain who comes close to winning yet never does, and a generally fun movie-viewing experience for myself. What do you see in the Bond Genre?
Donovan: The twenty-third installment in the long-running film series, Skyfall holds many links with the classic films of the past. At this point, it is safe to say Bond films have a well-defined brand. Bond as a character dresses well; he wields a Walther PPK. His lust for women pairs nicely with a carefully made martini. James Bond represents a “perfected” version of manhood, divorced from the stress of reality and the logistics of life in general.
As such, Bond chases the bad guy with reckless abandon. Where any sane human being would use caution in the name of self-preservation, Bond jumps out of buildings, wrecks speeding trains, and saunters into enemy territory without a care. To a certain extent, James Bond is the perfected adventurer. His little worry for bodily harm and property destruction inspires the explorer in all of us.
Even more, Bond jetsets around the world enjoying the riches of exotic, almost somnambulant cities. Whenever you see a foreign skyline and imagine what it would be like to visit that one iconic building, be assured James Bond is there.
In all these ways, nothing has changed in the Bond brand for the past 50 years.
But with Skyfall, there is one major difference.
The Bond brand often culminates in a final world-saving battle scene. Bond often battles on the grand scale. He has thwarted the attempts of mass destruction from a wide variety of villains over the years.
With Skyfall, the climactic storyline replaces global with local and a grand scale with a personal scale. For all Skyfall’s big action scenes and international flare, the story centers on a feud between three people.
In the Presence of the Redeemed
Donovan: What themes interested you most in Skyfall?
Andrew: Redemption. Bond is seeking redemption (and perhaps revivification as well)—so is Silva, M, and the new underage Q. The theme of the movie isn’t action like most Bond films, but rather redemption. Silva seeks redemption from the sins committed against him in the past by M. Q seeks to be recognized for the brilliant computer mind he is, despite his young age, and M seeks to be recognized by the British government as a success, rather than a failure.
Andrew: So what is your verdict?
Donovan: I really enjoyed Skyfall. For all of the typical Bond trappings, the narrative is unexpected. This movie will not win any awards. Don’t forget it is a big budget blockbuster. It carries the mediocre writing and somewhat simplistic themes for a far reaching target market. Nevertheless, Skyfall is entertaining and above average. I recommend it.
Verdict: 4 out of 5