I interrupt your regularly scheduled warcraft programming yada yada.
I saw this yesterday as I like to wait until the cinema isn’t packed. I had to go to the dentist yesterday morning and so I said I’d go afterwards, if I didn’t have any cavities. Well, I had the beginnings of one which was fixed with some sand and sealant but not a true cavity. I’d love to know how I got that if I’m honest, I brush my teeth everyday and I don’t eat that many sweets. Anyway, so I still went to the cinema. I was going to the 1.15pm showing, and I got into town at 11am something. I actually wound up going to the 3.30pm showing, time flies in town I guess.
Ok used up enough words. Might be spoilers under the cut, read at your own risk and all that.
Bond, James Bond
First off everyone says this film was incredible, one of the best Bond’s. It’s got rave reviews and I can kinda see the point, it was a good film. However, was it a good Bond film?
What makes a Bond movie?
- Memorable villain
- Fast cars
- Mixing business with pleasure
So did this film deliver?
- Action? Yeah there was a lot of action scenes, shootouts, explosions etc. so full marks for this requirement.
- Villain? Well that’s harder to call as I just saw it, plus I’m one of those people that have a memory for that kind of thing. I still don’t know who the villain was in Quantum so it’s a step up from that. However, I can’t remember or don’t know who the villains name was in Skyfall. His lines “mommy has been very bad” stand out but his name? I don’t know half credit for this.
- Gadgets? Kinda wasn’t any which I understand from reading about the movie was sort of the point. However, this is a Bond film, not generic action/spy thriller where the good guys beat the bad guys. There’s supposed to be gadgets. A gun coded to a palm print, a small transmitter and essentially a shout out to an old movie (with the ejection seat) don’t make good gadgets. The villain had the best one, the explosive trigger that looked like a police radio.
- Fast cars? There weren’t any car chases really, yes there was the opening credits with the beat up landrover and motorbikes. The old Aston Martin was great, though destroying it was kinda heartless (at least on screen). I suppose the cars go with the gadgets, so as there were few gadgets the cars didn’t really get much play. There was certainly more car action in this film than there have been in a few Bond films recently. I suppose Die Another Day with the car showdown, or Tomorrow Never Dies with the remote control driving, aren’t something that can be repeated in every film. Just for bringing back the old Aston I’ll give it full marks.
- Womanising? That’s something James Bond is known for and I suppose he delivered on this. He hooked up with someone while he was ‘dead’, he flirted (and possibly more) with the new Moneypenny, and then there was the girl he used to get to the villain. So check that one off the list.
So to sum up, five conditions and a score of 3.5 out of 5. Not bad but not great either, this was supposed to be a Bond film. Now I like the new realistic tone and I suppose gadgets don’t really fit with that. However, Bond and gadgets go together like Santa and his reindeer. If Santa showed up at christmas with an electric sled, the reindeer having retired, it really wouldn’t be the same. There can be realistic gadgets without losing the whole gadget thing. Alias had a lot of faults as a TV show but it had good gadgets in it. Perhaps the new Q should be Marshall.
Let’s talk about the actual movie now. So far I feel like I’ve just criticised it which isn’t exactly my intention. I did enjoy this movie a lot and I expect I’ll pick it up on dvd, when it comes out, for rewatching. So anyway the plot was good, I’ve seen it before but the acting was good, and I do love villains that plan a few steps ahead. Ex-agent goes mad with torture and comes back for revenge against his former masters, seen it, actually have it in the book I’m writing for NaNoWriMo. Still it was well played up until we reached Skyfall, James Bond childhood home and then it went a bit rubbish.
If they were laying a false trail why lead him to where they were? He was after M so surely Bond should have taken her somewhere else, then had the trail led to where he was. I get that the powers that be wanted to kill off Judi Dench’s M, something I’m very sad about as she was excellent. Anyway I get that she couldn’t go on forever doing it, that even if the actress was capable it wouldn’t be believable anymore. People in that line of work don’t retire so death was very realistic but the way it happened just wasn’t. There was no need for her ever to have been in danger, why lay a false trail just to have them find her? She should have been killed when he found her at the parliamentary hearing, it would have been much more realistic.
As it was the villain suddenly gave up his careful planning, gave up all his intelligence, just turned into a crazy guy and got himself killed by Bond. The showdown at ‘Skyfall’ was exciting but just so unrealistic as why would the villain put himself in that position? It’s like the writers got to a certain point, realised they’d written themselves into a hole, and so abandoned logic in the favour of exciting visuals, shoot-outs and explosions.
If I’m criticising illogic then Moneypenny shooting Bond was stupid. Bond was fighting the guy with the disk, he could well have won and then the whole mess would have been over. Instead M ordered her to shoot and she hit Bond, essentially this saved the bad guy and enabled him to get away. Sure, the whole movie plot would have been over if Bond had won that fight, but it would have made much more logical sense. The cold hearted, only the mission is what matters, sacrifice is necessary etc. is realistic and makes sense. However, it was a stupid call as it did the opposite of what they wanted. It would have been far better for the bad guy to have won and thrown Bond off the train, thus keeping the disk. Another option would have been for him to do that, for Moneypenny to then shoot the bad guy, for the good guys to turn up at the station to collect the disk off his corpse and it not be there. It would have been a lot more logical, it would have kept the plot moving, and we’d already seen the cold hearted sacrifice with M ordering Bond to leave the dying agent.
Then there’s also the question of how on earth Bond survived? He fell a long way into the river, we then see him going over a waterfall. He was unconscious, shot twice, he should have drowned, or bled out. This was never explained, perhaps because it was unexplainable. There is no way that he could have survived so they just conveniently ignored that. Don’t get me wrong it was an enjoyable film, and I’d certainly recommend it to people, but it did have a lot of holes in it. Maybe that’s what makes it a Bond film, most of them to seem to suffer from that.
What I would have liked to see
I guess I’m just going to have go with the way this review is going, it’s highly critical. So, how would I have fixed it? Well I already suggested above that Moneypenny shooting Bond shouldn’t have happened. So the villain wins the fight, not unreasonable given that Bond was already injured, and then Moneypenny shoots the bad guy. The good guys turn up at the station to get the disk but it’s gone. Bond obviously falls off the train but I don’t know, a fisherman or something pulls him out of the water. It was the shoulder wound that troubled him later so maybe he just disappears, off to wherever he was in the film, to lick his wounds and recover.
That’s what he did in the film, rather than heading to a hospital/the embassy or whatever as soon as he came round. It was implied in the film that the injury shook him up, that he’d missed a step, but maybe it’s more than that. Perhaps he was getting a bit burnt out. The film questioned the need for 007 in today’s technological world so maybe he questions it himself. Bond might have a licence to kill, and they’ve never shown that it bothers him before, but he’s human so the toll of his job could weigh on him. This was actually questioned a bit in the theme music for Craig’s first outing as Bond, You Know My Name “if you take a life do you know what you give”. So perhaps that’s why he disappeared, maybe intending to as Ralph Fiennes’ character suggests “to walk away cleanly”. There’s no retirement option for spies really so that would be the one way out.
Anyway he would then come back because seeing MI6 attacked would prick his conscience. He swore an oath to serve his country, and as jaded and burnt out as he might be, he’d still feel the need to get back into the game. Then things could proceed as they happened in the film pretty much. I would like to see some more gadgets but fair enough just leave it as it was. This would continue as it was until the parliamentary hearing where it would change.
I liked that Ralph Fiennes’ character proved he wasn’t the evil bureaucrat trying to take over from the good guys here. He tried to save M and got shot for his trouble, so he needs to stay doing something good here. There was that other MI6 agent that also shielded her with his own body, as he was a technical agent I think that does speak of remarkable bravery. However, here is when M should have died. The villain had been one step ahead the whole time, and company cars are very obvious, so maybe she does get hustled out of the hearing, put in the car which promptly explodes. Silva (thank you IMDB) clearly had people on the outside helping him, so there would have been people who could have rigged the car.
What then, revenge done, would have been his motivation? Well, he’s got skills, a network of his own, taking jobs for the highest bidder. Clearly, a danger to national security so he needs to be taken down and Bond would also want revenge. Blood calls out for blood, which calls out for blood, in an endless cycle. So we could have the explosions, and the shoot-outs, and everything that was in the second half but with Bond attacking Silva. Yes that would mean not paying a visit to Bond’s childhood home but really retreating there made little sense. We learnt what we already knew, that he was an orphan, that his parents death had changed him. I suppose the writers didn’t want to lock themselves into anything by giving details.
Rather than Skyfall being the name of Bond’s childhood home, maybe it would be the distress word for MI6. It does sound very end of the world, you know moving to highest alert, ‘skyfall’. Yup sounds good, or maybe it could have been a codeword for that list of names, maybe something Bond wasn’t supposed to know. That was my first thought actually when I saw that shrink test. He reacted to the name, M and that reacted to him reacting. I think that Mallory (Fiennes, thanks IMDB) actually something like, “not good” or whatever when Bond reached that part.
What I wouldn’t change
I wouldn’t change the circle of life with Fiennes being called M at the end. While I always thought M was like a codename, as we weren’t allowed to know the real name (and we do know Mallory’s), a title makes sense too. It’s like saying that the whole system continues, chain of command, we will survive etc. Bringing back Moneypenny was a nice touch as well, the film feels more grounded as Bond with those little touches.
Q being a young nerd was ok, good even. It makes it more realistic and actually makes Bond connect with the audience when he goes “you’re joking” which is good. I want more gadgets, it’s not Bond without gadgets but this type of Q is where it should be at. Honestly it’s good to just have Q back, as we’ve had two movies without him.
The villain, up to when he attacked Bond’s home, was brilliant. Seriously top class villain up to that point. So many villains are stupid cardboard cut-outs, built only to make the good guys look good, with no motivations that make sense, no sense that they can plan. I want more proper villains, and this guy was mostly awesome.
I’ve rambled on long enough and I think it looks like I didn’t like the film. I did really honestly, it just suffered from plot holes, which so much does these days. Maybe I should look for the logic in plots, and just enjoy them instead. I did enjoy Skyfall but for me it was spoiled a little bit by the illogic. I just can’t seem to watch anything without asking endless questions “why? why? why?” which I guess I really shouldn’t do. Was in an enjoyable film? Yes. Then plot holes don’t matter. I think they did a good job, I didn’t understand Quantum and I’ve seen it 3x now. I hope they continue to make Bond’s for a long time to come. Personally, when Daniel Craig bows out my vote for the new Bond goes to Adrian Lester. I think he would be fantastic as Bond. We’ve had 50 years of Bond, I do hope that we have at least 50 more.