The first thing that is immediately obvious about the new Bond movie is that it is not a sequel. I guess maybe this should not be a surprise, given that most Bond movies have always stood on their own, but after Quantum of Solace picked up where Casino Royale left off, you might be excused for believing that story line would continue into this movie as well. But no. The second thing that becomes immediately obvious is that this is a very different Bond from any we have seen before.
The trend in the recent Bonds has been to try to compete with the Bourne movies for action and pacing. Bond has always had gee whiz gymcrackery gadgets from Q which could get him into and out of tough scrapes with the international spies, terrorists or criminals that were the enemies du jour. But recently, especially with the Daniel Craig movies, it seems like the emphasis has been on physical feats of combat and pursuit prowess. Bond as parcour expert. That was fine, especially when contrasted with the cardbourd cutout that Bond had become in the latter Roger Moore movies. But Skyfall says goodbye to all that. This may be the darkest most psychological Bond ever. Gone is the frenetic pacing and international globetrotting. No resorts or beaches. And this Bond moves at a more deliberate trot and is set mostly at home in the good old UK. The enemy is suddenly awfully domestic as well, and the most sophisticated gadgets the new Harry Potterish Q can muster up is a gun that only Bond can shoot and, wait for it, a kinda small radio. This is Bond as therapy patient and dysfunctional family member. Bond with mommy issues and sibling rivalry. In other words, WTF is going on with Bond these days???
Despite all that, or maybe because of it, this Bond just flat works. He doesn’t seem terribly invulnerable or bulletproof anymore. He doesn’t always jump in bed with every hot girl he meets. He doesn’t save everyone. He isn’t very popular with his employers. His abilities seem to be a little off, in fact, and he really isn’t even qualified to be in the field anymore. But he’s working his ass off and of course, though it’s hard to see how it happened, it’s easy to root for this new underdog Bond. He still has a lot of wit and some fun and this movie does too, by blowing up (literally) all the old stereotypes and taking the venerable 50 year old franchise in a new unexpected direction.
The biggest surprise in this movie though isn’t the new Miss Moneypenny or Lord Voldemort infiltrating Mi6. It is Javier Bardem, playing the creepiest Bond villain ever to grace the screen. I swear though, if Bardem plays any more murderous uber-villains he’s going to be committed in real life, because no one will believe a sane man could possibly play the characters he has pulled off in his ever more illustrious career. He deserves a special academy award for spectacularly villainous hairdos alone.
If you’re expecting the same old thing, you might be disappointed by this new Bond, but if you always wondered what Bond would be like if he were written and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, then this just might be your thing. I recommend you check it out.