I can’t say I’m a James Bond fan.
Of the 22 Bond films that have come before the latest one – Skyfall – I think I may have seen 21 of them (I didn’t bother with Quantum of Solace) and yet I could only tell you the plots of Goldeneye, Goldfinger and The Man With the Golden Gun (hey…there’s a pattern emerging).
Ultimately, most of them aren’t particularly good films. It’s just that the character of James Bond is iconic and is synonymous with the whole British Secret Service/Espionage type film.
But I had heard that this one was good, and it certainly gets the highest rating of any Bond so far on IMDB, so I decided to go, in spite of my best mate thinking it was a let down.
So, was it any good?
Well yes, it was.
Although the opening scene was more like one of the fights between Peter and the Giant Chicken in Family Guy, the film settled down into an enjoyable 150 minutes of storytelling, action scenes and blockbuster special effects.
I can’t say the story was particularly original – that of the former spy who was abandoned and has become resentful of his former employers – because it’s been done so many times before in a variety of different shows; it’s even been done in Bond before. But enjoyable it still was.
It was a little bit slow to begin with, but when the action moved from ‘Mystery Oriental Island’ and back to the London it began to heat up nicely, building to an explosive finish up in the remote Highlands of Scotland.
As an aside though, I wasn’t too keen on how this film showed a certain level of ‘Britishness’ that doesn’t really exist. It’s just what Americans think the UK is like.
Suspension of Disbelief
Of course, to enjoy a film like this, there has to be a certain suspension of disbelief, and that’s fine. The beginning bit is ridiculous as I’ve already mentioned, just like the notion of a secret agent managing to evacuate an entire population and take over an whole island in 2012, but I must admit I did struggle a little bit with the chase between Bond and Mr Silva through the Underground.
Why? Well, I can accept the idea that Silva deliberately got caught so he could activate his plans, but for him to time it so well and know exactly where he’d be at each point of his chase with Bond to do walk-by-drops with his cronies and then blow up that tunnel at the exact moment a tube train was going by was just silly. He wasn’t the one in control of when his plans would roll out either, which makes it even sillier.
And for someone who plans things with such precision, the way Silva just assumed Bond was dead when he fell into the lake was the sort of lazy writing that gets put in place simply to move a film to its conclusion.
What Is The Timeline of the Bond Universe?
One thing I did like about this film was the sub-plot about how the likes of Bond are a dying breed, and the role of an organisation like MI6 might not be quite as significant in the modern world of cyber-terrorism and technological advancement.
The notion that all Bond needed from Q was a gun and a radio was probably more realistic than anything that has ever been in a 007 film before.
And then there was idea that Bond himself is getting older and maybe struggling to keep the pace with the changing world. That’s great, but it must begin to draw a conclusion to Bond films because it’s the first time as far as I can remember that his age has come into it.
Similarly, M is obviously meant to be the same woman that we’ve seen since Goldeneye and she’s aged too.
So what is the story with Bond? The fact that he’s ageing means that he’s not immortal, like – say – Rodney Bewes is known to be, but he can’t be a Time Lord either, because if he was then he’d have regenerated at the end of the opening scene when he was shot. How good would that have been?
But within the confines of the Bond Universe we’re obviously meant to believe he’s the same guy who was on the go in the 60s because he brings out the Aston Martin DB5 in a huge knowing wink to the audience. And that doesn’t make any sense.
Maybe the truth is that Bond lives in a sort of purgatory world like in Life on Mars. Certainly the scene where he ‘meets’ Moneypenny for the first time would lend credence to that. Maybe Bond himself is just a place-holding identity for dead secret service agents struggling to move into the afterlife?
Or maybe I’m just trying to make sense of something that unashamedly doesn’t even try to, and they’ll just ignore the plot of Skyfall and recast him as a younger man soon enough.
As to the cast, I thought they were all pretty good. I wouldn’t exactly say Daniel Craig is a great actor, and I don’t think he has the same level of charisma or credibility in the role of the ‘License to Kill Ladies Man’ that someone like Sean Connery had, but he was good enough.
Javier Bardern was good as Silva and it goes without saying that Judi Bloody Dench was marvellous, darling, but I thought the best cameo went to Albert Finney as Kincade.
My only disappointment in the casting was that I misread ‘Rory Kinnear’ as ‘Roy Kinnear’. Then I remembered Roy Kinnear was long since dead. But he’d have been great in it.
Should You Go and See Skyfall?
Well, for a James Bond film, I thought it was very good. For films in general, I thought it was more that satisfactory.
Basically, if you like Bond films, I think you’ll like this. My friend didn’t though, and I’m really not sure why.