Published on October 29th, 2015 | by Kia0
Skyfall – Bond Bodyguard
Most of the best Bond movies come from the simplest of storylines and this one is no exception. The story line is on the surface very simple, the big bad has stolen a list of every NATO agent and MI6 need to get it back to protect the identities of hundreds of undercover agents. What makes this story a little different however is Bond. He is not the slick operator we have seen before, in Daniel Craig’s third portrayal of James Bond he is a broken man – in both body and spirit. In the typical form of the most recent Bond movies we open with a high octane and powerful chase scene, we see Bond at his best, giving chase through the streets and across the rooftops of Istanbul. Things quickly turn sour as Bond is shot by one of this fellow agents and he plunges off a bridge in to the water and in to the title sequence.
Title Sequence & Bond Theme
Daniel Craig’s part of the Bond franchise has spoilt us when it comes to opening sequences, this must be the neatest lead in to the title sequence, Bond drops off the bridge and quite literally in to the sequence. It was so sleek and is something that I personally have grown to expect from the recent Bond movies.
I know a lot of people don’t like the Adele theme but I love it. The idea of falling, the idea of death. Bond is essentially dead in this film. He has broken. Daniel Craig is a huge part of the sequence and it very subtly introduced some of the players as well as showing in an abstract way parts of the plot that will slowly fall in to place as seamlessly as Bond fell in to this sequence. The flow of the opening is beautiful; the movement and the destruction both dazzling.
The Villain And Their Plan
Surveillance, the collection of information, hackers, and the vulnerability of electronic systems are fears that are often in, or behind, the headlines we see everyday. The Bond movies have often tapped in to these kinds of fears to create an emotional attachment to the film. Those emotions are pushed eloquently by this Bond villain, a man who lives in the shadows and is pushing MI6, and most importantly M, to the edge of their capabilities. MI6 is completely off kilter, on the edge of losing their position completely and their reactions play in to the plan of the villain perfectly.
Istanbul – a favourite for Bond as he has been here before in From Russia With Love. The car and bike chase across the top and through the Grand Bazaar is wonderful, although having been in Istanbul over the summer I think that a lot of this driving would be considered standard practice!
London – A message has been sent with the destruction of the ‘old MI6’ and the new MI6 is located deep underground, a metaphor for how much the government would like to bury the MI6 way of doing things once and for all? The National Gallery to meet Q is quintessentially British and the perfect meeting place for these two diametrically opposed agents especially as they abstractly talk about the old boat being taken away for a newer one to take it’s place, interesting moment as I never thought Bond would judge someone based on their age rather than their abilities.
Shanghai – From this location on we know we are in for a treat. From the beautiful filming to the lighting it is stunning. Lighting is something that you really notice in the newer parts of the franchise and it is used to great effect in the fight scene. This setting also sees some moves that I would be more used to seeing in the most recent Batman movies, including some of the musical accompaniment. The stunt on the base of the elevator had my stomach turning and turned the tension up to eleven.
Macau – stunning, stunning, stunning and I’m not talking about bond in a tux. The lights and entrance to the Macau casino is beautiful.
Scotland – a strange one for me as a reader of the Bond books. Not where Bond grew up in those but I suppose the story has changed so much over the decades that this is as good a backdrop as any for a 00 agent.
So light on gadgets it is amazing to see that Q plays a part in this movie. Bond is given a new Walther gun palm print activated and a radio transmitter that looks like it was taken out of Moore’s era. A gun and a radio – that’s it. There was also a wonderful dig at the exploding pen era of bond.
And of course the line that brings back a hue amount of nostalgia, “Please return the equipment in one piece” – Q
Most Inappropriate / Politically Incorrect Moment
The newer Bond movies don’t tend to make too many faux-pas for inappropriate behaviour or politically incorrect view points, maybe time will tell whether that is just our ‘modern’ outlook or whether it will stand the test of time. The only part that of the movie that I found a little difficult was his initial interaction with Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) when he makes it on to her boat. Bond makes the assumption that she wants him in the shower – does he just assume that since she is/was a sex worker that of course she doesn’t mind him getting naked with her? Maybe I am being picky but I prefer that people ask my consent before getting naked and handsy with me in a shower, it’s clear from her reaction that James guesses correctly however I prefer consent to be enthusiastic when asked and not simply presumed.
This wasn’t so much a weird moment as a “Really?!” type moment. It seems that the infallible Mr Bond waited to check his palm print activated gun until he got to Shanghai – his smile almost seems to register as surprise “Oh look, it works!”. Also, if it’s palm print activated, why are you wearing gloves?
“Where the hell have you been?” – M, completely unflappable even when faced with a ghost
“Enjoying death” – Bond
How Good Is It Really?
Yes, in essence it is. This movie pushes Bond from the opening sequence to the harrowing end James is pushed hard, we see him lost and we see him having gone rogue – although not for the first time in the franchise. Daniel Craig’s incarnation of Bond is controlled in the beginning of the movie and pushed throughout it to the edge of breaking.
It seems that the audience is becoming more used to the long opening sequence before the titles and this one was well worth the time – from the beautifully choreographed fights to the chase scenes across and through some of the most memorable places in Istanbul. We are in Bond’s world as soon as the movie starts and it keeps us on the edge of our seat throughout.
The shadows is where the villain of the piece is said to lurk, however once given the spotlight the he is magnificent. Javier Bardem makes one of the best entrances of a Bond villain, ever. He is both magnetic and terrifying. His scenes with Bond are captivating, the tension is almost tangible as is the sense of threat. We have seen Bond in many compromising situations, tied to a chair having the threat of never being able to use a vital piece of Bond equipment again but I don’t think we have ever seen him as truly vulnerable as the initial scene between Tiago Silva and himself. He was not ready to be put back in the field and it shows, his training failing him both mentally and physically.
As much as I feel that Bardem steals the show I was fascinated by the tension between Bond and the agent who almost ended his career by shooting him off the train in Istanbul. They keep us guessing as to who this new female agent is until the very end, Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). I adore this new backstory to Moneypenny and Bond, it shows how close the Bond is between them and although it isn’t the first time we see her in the field (she does a very small amount of field work in Diamonds are Forever) it does show us that her background isn’t simply as a secretary.
There are a few parts of the movie that irk me (I am not going to completely rant about Bond on the tube… you think that’s rush house Bond??? Really? Rush hour???) but on the whole it is a beautiful bringing together of old and new Bond, even the Aston Martin with the ejection seat is classily done and set against the more classic music theme. The changing of the backstory from Kent to Scotland (the back arse end of no where, Scotland) seems a little heavy footed at times but still works for the plot of the movie.
Bond’s ability to be able to read people is unbelievable and his way of destroying them is immensely personal. Emotional attraction is brought on very quickly and as much as it is a huge asset for a secret agent you can continue to see the toll that it puts on him mentally. People are often play things for him to move and adjust on the surface but the agent we see now does carry the emotional baggage of how those peoples lives are affected by him.
What makes this film stand out for me are those performances, the private stories that link all these people’s lives together. They are what drives this simple plot line along. The world is in danger from a villain that gets captured on purpose (reminded me of both Batman and The Avengers, it seems to be a popular plot line in film at the moment) in order to be able to point out our vulnerability and because his ultimate goal is not to be a world power but to get to M. He chases her, his ultimate goal, from London to the Scotland but like a dog chasing a car he almost doesn’t know how to contain himself once he has her. He is such a maniac, one second upset she is hurt and the next he is dying to kill her and himself.
I often find it hard to decided which Bond movie from the Daniel Craig era I enjoy more, Skyfall or Casino Royal. One thing is certain, this film most definitely rises to the top often when I talk about the best Bond movies.