Monday, November 12, 2012

Skyfall - Bond Hits Fifty- Fifty Hits Back

I saw the new James Bond movie Skyfall, today, and loved it. In many ways it's a new departure for the Bond films. There are the traditional elements, the gunfights, the chases, on foot and in a car (don't try this at home kiddies, traffic ordinances may vary), and the pyrotechnics. The villain is properly villainy, with the usual sadistic twist tinged with a slight hint of sexual perviness. Watch for the scene where he has Bond captive. Really, Bond? Not your first time? Who knew?
There are some changes. We say goodbye to old cast members and hello to new ones. I liked the old Q, Desmond Llewelyn (R.I.P., old friend.) and will miss him, but the youngster (Ben Whisaw) replacing him is right for the times. The first meeting between him and Bond is almost classic, filled with subtext on many levels. Judi Dench dies too, and I will miss her, but she had a good run.
There are changes. The opening credits are different. Instead of the usual nude silhouettes we get a sort of dream sequence, telling some of the story. Daniel Craig portrays Bond as more human, and flawed. He's not the uber-spy of some of the classic Bond films. He's at his weakest after being shot, falling off a bridge, nearly drowning, and "enjoying death", as he calls it, after returning to meet M in her office. She was writing his obituary, and he remarks later he thought it appalling. He's also more of an adult. He doesn't bed any of the Bond girls this time around, which I found refreshing.  I always found that aspect of the Bond novels and movies disturbing. Aside from the moral aspects I always thought it highly unprofessional, and dangerous, in many ways. His partner Eve is treated with respect. (Good for you, James!) Watch the movie to find out her last name. The other girl, Severigne, is tragic, but not some disposable sex toy.
The Villain, Silver, is suitably over the top. I liked/hated him. We get a new M, properly foreshadowed. The Aston-Martin returns for a brief run. R.I.P  Nice to see those machine-guns in action once again.
In my last blog I noted how real espionage differs from the Bond films. This film has a more realistic, and timely menace. The villain is plausible, with plausible motives. And cyber-terrorism is a very real and worrisome threat in this day and age.
The Bond novels and films have alsways been topical, and this one is no different. It's fun to watch the old classics now and then to see how the world was viewed back then. By the way, there really was a SMERSH, a predecessor of the KGB, and is an acronym of the Russian phrase Shmert Spionam, or Death To Spies! They had flair back then. Sigh.
I liked when M gave Bond his traveling kit. No fancy gadgets, just passport and ID, a minature radio and his sidearm, a Walter PPK in 9mm short, or .380 Auto as we call it on this side of the pond. I had no problems with the ID, passport, and radio. But I do not regard the .380 as a combat round. I like large caliber sidearms. The gun has a sensor that recognises Bond's palmprint, so that only he can fire it. The Bond films like the latest gimmicks, but in real life, I prefer to Keep It Simple. If I reach for my sidearm I do not want to have to worry if it will remember me or not!
I did like the Komodo Dragons by the way.
On the whole I liked the movie. Highly recommended.