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.

19 thoughts on “Skyfall

  1. One thing you don’t emphasize is that the film is very aware of its differences with the older ones and even uses that for humor on occasion. Bond is openly underwhelmed with Q’s offering. When they finally unveil a real Bond car about 3/4 of the way through, it is accompanied by the phrase (in a different context), “We’re going to go back in time.” And even in nonhumorous ways, it throws bones to the old fans in the form of cliches like Bond walking into a casino in a tuxedo and joining the hot girl in the shower. But it all seems like an announcement that the franchise is moving on and here’s one last slice of the old ways.

    I’ve never been a Bond fan–I think this is the second movie I’ve seen in a theater. But I’m more inclined to see future ones now.

  2. “He doesn’t always jump in bed with every hot girl he meets.”

    Hrmmm…I think the three from this movie is pretty standard for Bond. I would say maybe even up a little from the past couple movies. Not that I’m keeping track or anything.

    I’ve always been a Bond fan, and Skyfall does not disappoint.

  3. No way arJ! The whole dynamic between Bond and Moneypenny is that they always flirt but never sleep together.

  4. But the twist is that nobody (not us, not Bond) knew she was Moneypenny at that point. So there is some wiggle room there. Plus, you think that shaving scene didn’t go anywhere?

  5. That doesn’t matter, it ruins the whole dynamic if they slept together. And Bond movies are not Disney movies. If Bond sleeps with someone, you know it. They don’t cut to the fireworks as some sort of euphemism.

  6. They slept together. It was pretty obvious. They said things like “you clean up real good” “it’s amazing what you can do with an extra set of hands” blah blah blah.

    I was actually a little disappointed in the movie. I don’t think we needed a Judi Dench Memorial Bond film. Her death felt a little “made for television”.

    It felt like they tried to make a Sean Connery bond movie. I guess I prefer Daniel Craig to be his own entity.

  7. “You clean up real good” means you look good when you’re dressed up, Matt. It has nothing to do with sex. Neither does the extra set of hands comment. You are reading things into the movie that aren’t there. There was no sex scene whatsoever. Thus no sex.

  8. My wife says, “yeah, they probably did.”

    Absent the fact that we find out she is Moneypenny anyone would understand that they slept together.

    I went in pretty spoiler free and didn’t know she was going to be Moneypenny. MCQ, did you already know or was it a surprise for you?

  9. It was a surprise, but I stil didn’t think they slept together. I was waiting for the scene when they fall into bed together and when it didn’t happen, I was surprised. Then, when they said she was Eve Moneypenny, I thought “oh,that’s why they didn’t sleep together. They can’t. it’s Moneypenny!”

    I suspect they made it ambiguous on purpose and that future movies will play on the “Did they or didn’t they” theme.

  10. I think the fact that she turns out to be Moneypenny is pretty much the only reason there’s room for doubt, and why I was willing to give you that one. It seems to be rather heavily implied, but maybe the close shave really was just a “close shave”. I would kind of like to think so.

  11. Finally saw it. A few thoughts.

    First it’s got the most amazing cinematography in a Bond film ever. Breath taking. Hopefully this will set a new standard for the future. Recalling the frank hackery during even the Connery films this is very impressive.

    While it does take Bond in new directions it oddly has the most Connery vibe to it of any of the post-Connery films. Oddly there’s a lot of influence from Connery’s return to Bond in Never Say Never Again. (Bond’s age was an issue there – although arguably some elements were characteristic within the Thunderball novel itself)

    The plot is oddly surprisingly derivative from the old 24 series staring Kiefer Sutherland. In fact I think one unfortunate feature of the recent Bond films has been to take the common trope of 24 of a mole or insider within the anti-terrorist/spy organization, have the headquarters attacked, and then have it heavily motivated by revenge. I loved the early seasons of 24 but I kind of wish they took Bond in a more realistic direction. I understand wanting a “one off” episode, but it’s odd how Quantum is completely ignored. In the days of Al Queda and stories about “economic hitmen” it’s interesting they went in this direction.

    The computer scenes were painful. Seriously, a plaintext password and no one was suspicious? Still, overall I liked the new Q and I liked that they played against the gadget silliness of the Moore and Brosnan eras.

    I loved the homage to Goldfinger and Bond’s car at the end.

    The playing up of Flemming’s tendency to make the villain gay with a physical deformity was interesting. I was surprised how many writers were excited about there being a gay character in a Bond film when this was characteristic of the early films and not in a good way. (i.e. a lot of homophobia and the idea that a lesbian just needed Bond to seduce them to bring them over to heterosexuality as in Goldfinger) I was actually surprised they went this direction although there clearly was a strong bit of irony involved and at least the character was an interesting villain whose motivations made a lot of sense.

    Overall while I still wouldn’t place it above Casino Royale the way many have, it’s not far behind.

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