Skyfall – James Bond at 50

Skyfall – James Bond at 50 October 29, 2012

20121029-154348.jpgSpoiler alert! This post contains a fair bit of information about the plot. If you haven’t yet seen the film, and want to be surprised, stop reading now! The summary of this post that this is in one sense a stereotypical Bond movie, and you will by now know what to expect, no doubt. If you like Bond, then I recommend this film. If you don’t then it is not sufficiently different to draw you in.

As usual in the last few Bond files, although he is to use an old English phrase, “a bit of a cad” and has sex with more than one woman, we do not see any nudity. There is of course a fair amount of violence too, but nothing that could be described as grotesque. To me the film is reasonably safe, but then I predicted that and very unusually for me, I didn’t even check the IMDB parents guide before going with my son.

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t usually go to watch Bond movies expecting an intricate plot. It’s kind of not the point. One could summarize most of the movies as follows: bad guy has a dastardly plan, Bond braves many dangers (often getting captured along the way), meets a girl who may or may not get killed, and then Bond eventually saves the day!

Skyfall roughly follows that plot-line, so I hope I haven’t spoiled it for you! But this 50th anniversary Bond movie is somewhat more reflective than usual. Since watching it I have found myself thinking about some of the issues it raises, so I thought I would share those thoughts with you.


1. Death and resurrection of Bond
At one point during the film Bond is asked what his hobby is, “resurrection” is his reply. Sure enough early in the film Bond is shot, falls a long way from a train into water. He is presumed to be dead, and his property is sold while he evades duty. This time there is not even an attempt to explain how he survives. It is a somewhat understated and slightly odd part of the film, but it did remind me how often our movie heroes appear to die but cheat death. Remind you of anyone?

3. The inevitability of aging and decline
Despite the image of invincibility, we see Bond struggling to perform the tests that are designed to prove he is fit to return to active duty. M is also told that it is time she should retire.

For a franchise that is turning 50 introducing the idea that its hero might not always be around to save the day is perhaps risky. And yet, today we seem to like our heroes to demonstrate vulnerability. More than any other Bond movie I remember, this one does portray him as a frail human. And as a result, the audience empathises with him more.

4. The interplay between traditional and modern
Not for the first time Bond is portrayed as somewhat old-fashioned. It is hard to imagine him using a computer. The new Q is dismissive of all that Bond stands for, claiming he can do more damage being a geek than Bond can, and refusing to provide any traditional Bond toys. But of course it is Bond and not a geek that saves the day. For the first time in a long while we have a Miss Moneypenny. By the end of the movie there is a strong suggestion that without replacing Daniel Craig they intend to reboot the franchise somewhat.

5. Loyalty and authority
It is clear that M cannot lead by position alone. Despite her lies, and authorizing the shot that almost kills him, Bond is devoted to her. There is the vaguest hint that she wields her authority in a different way to a man, being referred to at one point as a “mother.” But even for M, there are higher authorities that as much as she wrestles with them, she is more than willing to lay her life down for them.

6. Scottish Independence
Yes, those who want Scotland to remain a proud part of our great Union will like this film. We see Bond as the most Scottish we have ever realized him to be. The film climaxes on the Scottish moors. Bond may be Scottish but he is of course the archetypal Brit. It would genuinely be a pity to rend our great nation in two.

So a more thought provoking Bond, but of course the highlights are the fight scenes, car chases, and best of all the fantastic explosions. Ruining an old Aston Martin was a scandal, however! No more Judi Dench, though! How will we survive without this national treasure? My overwhelming thought is i hope the gap till the next Bond is not as long!

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