I finally managed to see Skyfall on the Sky store last weekend and to be honest, I’m glad I didn’t spend the money on seeing it in the cinema or buying the Blu-Ray.
To my mind the standard of comparison for bond films is Casino Royale. It’s perfect, it has everything I want to see. Chase scenes, fight scenes, a gorgeous car, great locations, great casting, and gritty overtones far removed from the camp Roger Moore flicks of the past.
Yeah, that’s right, I’m hard.
As the film started it all looked promising, Bond was in pursuit of some unknown operative who had stolen some sensitive information, and had chased him across Istanbul on motorbikes (hold on, didn’t he ride a motorbike quite a bit in the last film? Oh well, I can let that go) and the pursuant had led 007 onto the top of a train, with a female agent shadowing in a 4×4. (Fighting on top of a train? It’s been done A LOT! But hey it’s fast paced and choreographed well, is there really such a thing as an original idea anymore? I’ll let that go too).
The bad guy starts decoupling carriages in order to escape but as luck would have it there’s a handy JCB available for Bond to use to temporarily couple the carriages together in order to catch up with his quarry. (Bond used a bulldozer during a chase in Casino Royale, is construction vehicle operation part of MI6 agent training?!)
So the female agent gets ahead of the train and sets up a scoped rifle, “Take the bloody shot!” barks M over her earpiece despite the agent’s trouble getting a clear line of site. (“Oh good!” I thought, “M is a proper tough, decision making ball buster in this one. I was getting fed up of the subtle maternal subtext in the last film”.)
There are no prizes for guessing that the woman took the shot and hit Bond by mistake, knocking him off the train and causing him to plummet into the river below, roll credits.
So I’d made it to the theme song and there had already been at least three completely blatantly recycled ideas. But I was still optimistic and willing to give the film the benefit of the doubt.
But it just got worse and worse, and here are a few of the main problems I had with this film.
M was increasingly painted as a maternal figure for Bond, which was so at odds with her no nonsense “do whatever it takes” attitude that it just made the character seem disjointed and almost bipolar.
More recycled rubbish was evident as 007 himself struggled with a shoulder injury, stopping him being at full form just as it did in The World is Not Enough.
The character of Q makes a return (unwelcome in my book, Bond’s gadgets in the past have just been stupid) and gives 007 a gun coded only to his palmprint and a homing signal (“not so bad” I thought, “nothing too far fetched there”).
The gun however, seems only to exist for the sake of a single scene later on where an enemy attempts to shoot Bond with his own gun and promptly gets dragged off by a monitor lizard. (Why?! The film is no better because of this scene!). Further stupidity ensues when Bond unrealistically makes no move to retrieve his weapon and just strolls off without it. (Yeah he’s a great agent.) So overall, the only saving grace of Q’s return is the new actor, who played the part of the geeky, yet witty quartermaster brilliantly.
Possibly the best thing about this film was Ben Wishaw’s performance.
In a big “roll your eyes” scene, Bond encounters the big bad’s “girlfriend” and realising she’s been in the sex trade for most of her life, and is basically a prisoner of the bad guy, Bond tells her he can save her. Roll on 10 minutes and Bond strolls into a shower with her presumptively, instantly objectifying her and becoming the kind of man she’s had to deal with all her life. Way to keep up that heroic image Bond!
The main villain was odd in appearance and demeanour and had a tawdry gruesome disfigurement (conveniently only evident in one scene when he removes his flawless prosthetic, sigh!).
It’s implied he’s gay too. Don’t ask me why. Maybe the writer’s realised he was boring.
They’ve shoehorned in a classic Aston Martin DB5. “OK”, I thought, “He won one in a card game two films ago, It’s conceivable he could have kept it and put it in storage.” But no, this DB5 was fully equipped with an ejector seat and machine guns, and yet is somehow Bond’s personal property?! Casino Royale represented a reboot of the James Bond franchise and therefore the events of Goldfinger have not occurred. (and even if we assume they have occurred off-screen, the car involved would be a newer model.) SO just where the hell has this car come from? And why is it Bond’s personal property?! It makes completely no sense at all and was my main bugbear in this film, in my opinion, they ruined a passable script with a pointless piece of nostalgia, and I felt like cheering when they blew the car up.
SO fed up of this car!
The final showdown takes place in Bond’s family home, now I like the mystery surrounding Bond’s past, and I have no desire to have it explained to me, I’m happy to accept he’s an orphan who was recruited by MI6 and that’s all I need to know. And as for M dying in the chapel where Bond’s parents are buried, all I can say is SIGH!
And if that wasn’t enough, in the last scene they establish that the female agent from the beginning is Moneypenny (yet another pointless character), and show us an office almost identical to the one we see as M’s in the old Bond films. The only thing that could have made it worse would have been if they made Bond throw a hat onto the coat rack.
Don’t get me wrong, all these things may give you the idea that I didn’t enjoy watching the film, but I did enjoy it thoroughly at the time. But there were just too many issues for it to be the Bond film I was waiting for.
If I was to give the makers of the next Bond any advice I’d say this, just give Bond a target and send him after them, keep it simple. The Quantum organisation was established as a modern day alternative to SPECTRE in Quantum of Solace and it’s the perfect excuse for a good film.
I even wouldn’t mind a modern day remake of an older film. But the main thing I would say is LEAVE THE NOSTALGIA ALONE! I have no desire to see the DB5 every movie, or any other outdated Bond memorabilia.
Oh, and the theme song was shit!