I think we must first take note that we have now identified at least two international super-spies that, were they to meet Aaron Cross, would call him a p*ssy. Maybe it is inevitable that all modern day spy movies would start to carry the same trends, but I can’t help but point out that Jason Bourne, Aaron Cross, and Bond, James Bond all took a shot in their shoulder in their most recent escapades and both Bourne and Commander Bond managed to stay conscious thereafter and it took a second bullet to stop Bond from fighting off the bad guys. Only Cross passes out, despite genetic engineering that is supposed to make him physically and mentally superior to his counterparts. Ridiculous. Now that we have established that Bourne and Bond are the superior spies, on to Skyfall.
I don’t think I can properly express how excited I am to see the real Bond return to the big screen, none of this Quantum of Solace nonsense. A friend suggested to me that Quantum was trying too hard to be Bourne and she might be right, but in Skyfall, Bond is no longer the street tough apparently trying to use brute force and ignorance to fight his way through every situation. Instead, Bond in Skyfall is back to being the charismatic, strategic, and, yes, still very, very buff , as demonstrated in the innumerable gratuitous Daniel Craig shirtless shots, charmer of Connery and Brosnan fame. Yep, we’re back to the Bond who can appear in the shower of a woman that he’s just met uninvited and instead of getting punched in the balls, get, well, get what he came for.
The plot of Skyfall is actually pretty simple; the bad guys have stolen a hard drive containing a list of all the NATO embedded spies in Europe from MI6 – a list that is not even supposed to exist – and M, Bond, and the rest of the team are trying to get it back. However, it turns out that stealing the hard drive may be cover for something else entirely. The embattled M, played once again by Dame Judi Dench, is trying to save the reputation of MI6 and prove to the Defense Ministry that MI6 and she are still relevant in the spy craft world. It’s a common refrain throughout the movie as Bond and M seem determined to prove that old-fashioned legwork is still just as important to the spy game as the newfangled technology that the Defense Minister and others espouse. But it’s not just the old fashioned legwork they are defending, it is their own relevance in a new world.
And speaking of newfangled technology, Skyfall also sees the return of some beloved Bond characters, Ms. Moneypenny and Q are both back. I’m not sure I ever knew before that Q stood for Quartermaster, but the new Q is just that – new. Instead of a dignified old gentleman in a lab coat, Q is a young computer nerd with hipster glasses and a mop of unruly hair. The scene in which Bond meets the young Q for the first time might most perfectly exemplify the real drama of the movie. While Javier Bardem is bizarrely entertaining as a former spy turned Bane-style anarchist who has it out for M, his strange mother issues aren’t enough to carry the film. No, the real conflict is internal to the agency, Bond’s gripes with M after she makes what he considers to be a bad call, M’s disagreement with the Prime Minister over the future of MI6 and basically everyone’s general disagreement over the way that field operatives can or should be used. Sitting side by side, the young Q, who looks about 12 years of age, embodies the new guard while Bond embodies the old. And while they gently rib each other over each man’s value, in the end they need and support each other. After all, Q is afraid of flying and I suspect Bond doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer.
Now I don’t want to breeze right over Javier Bardem because he made some interesting choices playing Silva, a sort of megalomaniacal hacker. But I know Doug would be seriously disappointed if I didn’t note the most interesting choice of all, the way he was dressed about half way through the movie when MI6 thinks they have him captured. He is wearing what appears to be a janitorial jumpsuit with white, double Velcro strap orthopedic shoes. Yep, it is quite the look and I will add that there is a reason why we dress prisoners in orange jumpsuits, but I guess that can be chalked up to just another bad choice by MI6.
Now I’m a pretty big Bond fan and, as you may have guessed I was not a fan of Quantum of Solace and I can’t say I was that taken with Casino Royale, but Skyfall is a proper reboot of the Bond series as producers had hoped Casino Royale would be. It’s a nice mix of new spy thriller with the old Bond favorites, the Bond Girls, the Aston Martin, complete with machine guns and an ejector seat, a lot of stuff blows up, and Bond casually delivers his perfect one-liners. He even orders a martini and while he never actually says, “shaken, not stirred” we see it being shaken and Bond pronounces it “perfect!” If you’re a fan of Bond movies or spy movies in general, you’ll enjoy Skyfall. Oh, the things I do for England!