a review by Nalini Haynes
The Bond franchise is alive and well after 50 years in spite of doomsayers’ predictions that it was outdated. Part of the ongoing success is the modernisation of the movies that began with Pierce Brosnan as Bond and continued right up until the end of Skyfall.
I’ve tried rewatching some of the older movies, movies I enjoyed back in the 80s. The Suck Fairy has totally visited those movies, making them unwatchable due to their outrageous misogyny.
Daniel Craig is a contemporary Bond, not just because he is the ‘now’ Bond but also because he portrays Bond as a contemporary male. Craig as Bond still has almost super-human powers in kick-ass fights and evasion and he’s still a bit of a man-whore but he’s not overtly misogynist with it.
Early in Skyfall, Bond looked haggard instead of the dapper spy we’ve come to expect. I wondered if Craig was past his time as Bond, with thoughts of Sean Connery with makeup and inappropriate hair dye attempting to pass himself off as a much younger Bond. Connery remains a dynamic actor: I’m reminded of Connery in Entrapment and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and that voice! I love that voice at any age. Part of the secret to staying sexy is accepting your age and working with it; in his later Bond days, Connery’s makeup and hair people did not do him justice. I was so much younger – a teenager – when Never Say Never and Octopussy came out. Roger Moore and Sean Connery playing the same role in the same year was not a smart move in my opinion. Back to Skyfall: Craig played a very haggard-looking Bond, so much so that I thought he might have been aging badly as well as reaching the end of his time as Bond. This was all part of the plot, however, as is revealed when Bond scrubs up to step up to the plate and take action. Craig is as sexy as ever although when I looked up his age I was surprised he isn’t older.
In recent years I have absolutely loved Judi Dench as M, Bond’s ruthless boss at MI6. Dench’s performance in Skyfall surpasses every other M throughout Bond history, even her own previous performances.
Q has changed face and even been omitted from at least one of the Bond movies in recent Bond history. I feel no Bond movie is complete without Q and I loved John Cleese in that role, so I was disappointed to meet the new Q. Even more so when the new Q was snide about gizmos and gadgets, omitting the usual theatrics in the R&D lab. I was bitterly disappointed with this development in Skyfall but the plot moved forward. An old car – possibly the original Bond car – was brought out of retirement. Comedic quips and references to past Bond movies abounded. Some McGyver moves provided more ‘splodey bits.
Skyfall‘s subplot focused on the old guard being replaced by the new, with M – played by Dench, a Depression-era baby – threatened with forced retirement, to be replaced by Ralph Fiennes, a Baby Boomer. Snide comments directed at Bond, an older Gen X, reveal plans to retire him with plans to replace him with a younger – Gen Y – agent. The machinations and outcomes of this subplot were well-played, I take my hat off to the writers.
With every Bond movie the audience expects plenty of explosions and unrealistic but kick-ass action as part of the package, therefore it’s not valid to criticise those aspects of the movie. However, there were a few aspects legitimately open to criticism. [Spoilers, Sweetie] WTF was a vital and super-secret list of undercover spies doing in a harddrive in the middle east in the first place? PLOT HOLE. Bond has a girl and a life away from MI6, complete with some apparently superfluous scenes, then he returns. Someone physically accessed M’s computer from within MI6: how? The guy who was supposed to have done this hadn’t been an agent for years, so how did he get into M’s office? PLOT HOLE. MI6 tries to crack a program written by an uber-computer guy, one of the six best in the world. They should use computers that are completely quarantined, with absolutely no physical connection to their security or information systems. That’s security 101, sorry guys, PLOT HOLE. Bond has depleted uranium shrapnel in his shoulder, leaves it there for months without apparent infection or problems with radiation poisoning, doesn’t get medical help or do anything about it even after contacting M and does the spy fitness tests with the shrapnel still in his shoulder, only digging it out with a knife himself after being unable to do enough chin ups? PLOT HOLE. I always imagined Moneypenny to be M’s daughter or granddaughter: I think Skyfall missed an opportunity there, twice. [Spoilers end] There are issues relating to these plot holes but these are the primary ones.
I thoroughly enjoyed Skyfall, plot holes and all. Most movies and TV have holes these days; the real question is, do they have the character and plot to engage the viewer regardless? The answer with Skyfall is YES. Skyfall has plenty of explosions to satisfy the ‘splodey fans, elements of humour, nods to Bond the historical figure and 50 year old franchise, dynamic plot and excellent pacing. I highly recommend Skyfall as an enjoyable action movie.