There isn’t much I can say about Skyfall that hasn’t been said by numerous other reviews, but I think there is a lot to be said about where this film fits in the overall Bond mythos.
Skyfall marks the 23rd film in the main series, and the 50th anniversary of the series. That’s a lot of history to haul around with you, and it seems that the filmmakers are ready to start a whole new history without actually rebooting the franchise. The film walks an interesting line between honoring and embracing its history, while also ditching large portions of it.
We see the return of Q, the introduction of Moneypenny and the return of the old style M office with the leather covered door and dark wood walls. Meanwhile we are bluntly told that gadgets such as the exploding pen are gone, and the Astro Martin with the ejector seat is a relic of the past.
And so is Bond.
If anything shocked me in Skyfall it was the fact that Bond is very much represented to be a human, and not some sort of superior being that was above failure. Unlike past Bond films, this isn’t so much about the villain and his plan for world domination, this is a far more intimate story that revolves around revenge against M (Dame Judi Dench) and Bond’s return to active service despite his injuries and age. Don’t get me wrong, there are still your action set pieces – including a real thrill ride of a motorcycle chase – but this is far more about who these people that are responsible for the safety of the United Kingdom as people? Why was Bond recruited originally? Is there any price M wouldn’t pay to keep that safety intact? Can you be in this line of business and keep your human core?
See what I mean? There isn’t some secret volcano lair. No one is trying to manipulate global oil prices. And, thankfully, no one is trying to start a war to sell more newspapers. (Yes, that was the actual plot of a Bond film if you haven’t seen them all.) Time and humanity are the villains in this film despite the extremely creepy performance by Javier Bardem as Silva. The villain in this particular piece was used as a metaphor for the other issues at play.
Yes … I just used “metaphor” in relation to a Bond film. That tells you how unlike previous films in the series this is.
Now, this has become the most successful Bond film to date, and that says a lot, but it isn’t without it’s issues. For instance, the character of Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) could have easily been done without. Yes, many Bond girls have been disposable over the years, but she took it to a new extreme and did very little to advance the plot that could have been handled by other means.
Would I recommend it? Wholeheartedly, but don’t go in expecting the Bond of old, this is very much the dawn of a whole new era. And I, for one, can not wait to see where we go with Daniel Craig for Bond 24 & Bond 25.