If you haven’t seen Skyfall yet, then don’t read this article. There are spoilers. You have been warned.
I won’t say I’m the biggest 007 fan around – I’m definitely not but I do enjoy the franchise. To the end of Pierce Brosnan’s stint as Bond, I was feeling a little put off. The films were fine as a standard action adventure flick, but it didn’t seem very Bond. There was too much emphasis on the stunts and explosions and gadgets and not enough to do with the story and the events around these aspects.
Casino Royale was the reset button and it was done brilliantly. Say what you will about Daniel Craig, he had this gritty and rough character down perfectly and as this was the beginning of 007’s career, it was an interesting way to see a much-loved character.
Quantum of Solacedestroyed that for me. There was a loose story that was going nowhere and I don’t consider it a Bond film. If I had the power to go back in time and stop it from happening altogether, I’d seriously consider it. As a result, I was sceptical of Skyfall and what it would bring. There was a lot of hype around it and that only put me off it even more, as if it was trying too hard to not be Quantum of Solace and that was just how it was going to end up.
How wrong I was.
This film was everything I wanted in a Bond film and more. There was a story relevant to the real world and a character that was still growing and developing to become the Bond we knew from past films. There are a lot of one-liners and inside jokes that fans of the franchise will know and appreciate while new viewers to Bond will appreciate the tone and context of the jokes within the film. No one is singled out here.
I did find some things that bothered me, though; a few paradoxes that, as a writer, I can’t help noticing. They don’t detract too much from the film and if you simply want to enjoy a Bond film, then they probably won’t bother you at all. I did find them interesting though.
I think Judi Dench has done brilliant job as M, and I am little disappointed that her time in the role is finished but not surprised. This film was a bit of a shakeup to what’s been done before and her story, while it could have been developed more, was finished. There is no sensing in forcing an issue like this.
Her role as M brings me to the first paradox. This character was seen during Brosnan’s time as Bond, which is the end of the loose timeline we have. So how can she then appear as M again, years before she entered the franchise? These films are set before all other Bond films and there is no indication the character is a different M. Just M. She also has the attachment to the character. There was a little distance in Casino Royale but not enough for me to separate her into two different M’s.
The Aston Martin
I love how the car returned. It was a real piece of Bond history for us to relive. I’d have loved more to see a car chase with it and I was more than a little heart-broken at the damage and destruction it suffered.
It is the second paradox, though. Bond didn’t drive this car until the film Goldfinger. Franchise fans know this and while it’s great to see it again, the context is wrong. Bond didn’t own the car, as he mentions that company cars can be tracked, so why choose this one? He did win a DB5 in Casino Royale but there were no special gadgets involved and at no time has he shown competent enough to be able create and install such gadgets himself. It’s a fun and quirky idea but it didn’t work for me in terms of story.
Identity and History
As a kid, I never questioned that Bond’s appearance changed so much. He is meant to be the same person throughout, and that’s fine. It works for books but not so much for films when they take place over such a long time. As I got older, my natural reaction (helped by being a writer, I reckon) was to consider them all as James Bond but as different people who stepped into that role. It became an alias for me, that when one James Bond died, another agent stepped in to assume that identity.
This is thrown out of the window in Skyfall, where we are shown Bond’s childhood home and the grave of his parents. This gives him a history and identity beyond being 007. A set up for the future, I’m sure, but what spy would use their real name, knowing there is a link to the past no matter how small or vague. I could be reading too deeply into this, but that’s my nature as a writer.
Overall, it is a great film and brings to life the Bond franchise again. It’s undoubtedly worth watching and an Imax experience is also recommended if you can get to one!