Good day all. It’s been a while since my last review. Lat night I went to see the new James Bond movie, Skyfall. This is the first movie that is not based on a novel by Ian Fleming. As always, there will be MAJOR spoilers, so bail out now if you don’t want to know about how the movie progresses.
As usual, I went to Chunky’s. What was not usual is I went with the Angry sister, Angry brother in-law and my angry mother. We all had a good time and enjoyed the film as well as the food and adult beverages. The theater was packed and we arrived just a few minutes before the film started so we didn’t have the greatest seats in the house.
The current version of James Bond has been quite a bit darker and “grittier” then all the previous versions. They have been, in a way, an introduction into who and what is James Bond, and how he became a 00 agent for MI6. Skyfall is, in may ways, the closing act in a trilogy and completes the base introductions of all the Bond characters.
Skyfall opens with Bond and a female agent, (As usual with a Bond film), in Istanbul trying to recover a stolen hard drive with a list of all the undercover agents in various terrorist groups. I won’t go into the premise of why such a list would be on a laptop in a foreign country and not in a locked vault in MI6. If you read the news, you will have seen how the British have developed a bad habit of walking out with laptops loaded with secret information and then losing them on the Tube. (We call it the subway)
There is the usual wild car chase through the city with Bond ending up on a motorcycle pursuing the bad guy across the rooftops. The female agent, named Eve, continues following in their Land Rover trying to keep up. Bond and the bad guy end up on a train shooting at each other until they run out of ammo. Then they start fighting on top of the train. The pursuing agent reaches the end of the road and jumps out with a rifle. She doesn’t have a clear shot at the bad guy, but M orders her to fire anyway. She accidentally hits Bond who falls from the train, off a bridge and into a river. He is last seen floating down stream in the rapids. The bad guy gets away with the hard drive.
Bond is missing and presumed dead. M is now under very heavy political pressure to retire because of the fiasco of losing the hard drive with all the undercover agents names on it. (Encrypted of course. They aren’t that stupid) She meets with he Intelligence and Security Committee Chairman, Gareth Mallory who is to take over for her. As M returns to her office, the tracking locator in the hard drive is activated indicating someone is trying to access the data. The narrow it down and are shocked to find someone has hacked into M’s office computer. She orders it shut down and as she arrives at MI6 headquarter, an explosion rips through the building. Several people are killed and injured.
Bond, who has used the opportunity of his “death” to disappear is in a bar drinking rather heavily. He sees the news broadcast about the explosion at MI6 and heads back to London. M returns home and finds Bond in her flat. Bond announces he’s back and ready to go to work. M tells him he has to be debriefed and medically cleared first. We then go through a montage of Bond getting checked out. He is cleared for duty and is sent to me the head of the head of the Quartermaster corp, “Q”.
Those of you who remember the original Q, the late Desmond Llewelyn4, and his short time successor, John Cleese5, may be a bit disappointed in the latest iteration, but we will need to see a few more appearances before we can make judgments. In any case. There are no super gadgets for Bond. He is given his trademark PPK with a sensor in it set to his palm, (No one else can fire it), and a miniature radio/homing beacon.
Bond has also run into Eve, who apologizes for shooting him by mistake. She tells him she is on a desk but is interested in getting back in the field. Bond asks her to notify him when she goes back into the field so he will have some warning. Typical Bond banter with no real anger in it. He understands she had no choice in taking the shot. He also comments to her that field work isn’t for everyone.
The next scenes take place in Macao and Shanghai. Bond locates the man who stole the drive and nearly killed him, (With Eve’s unwitting assistance), just as he kills someone in another building. A fight ensues and the villain, hanging from Bond’s hand, slips and plummets to his death. Bond loots his case and comes up with a place to go. He ends up in a casino and meets up with Eve. (Who looks fantastic in an evening gown)
Bond turns in a chip which causes the teller to contact management. Bond meets a pretty woman, Sévérine, and is handed 4 million Euros. He and Sévérine talk and Bond determines she was a sex slave. She promises to help him him if he kills her employer. Bond and the Sévérine’s bodyguard, end up fighting in a pit full of Komodo Dragons6. Bond loses his PPK and the bad guy gets it. He tries to shoot Bond, but due to the new safety, it doesn’t go off. The villain is then bitten by a dragon and dragged off to be eaten. Bond climbs out of the pit and then meets Sévérine on her yacht.
They travel to an island, where they are taken prisoner by the crew and delivered to Sévérine’s employer, Raoul Silva. A former MI6 agent who worked under M, Silva holds her responsible for his torture and imprisonment by the Chinese. Silva kills Sévérine, but Bond overpowers his guards and captures Silva for extraction to the UK.
Back at MI6′s underground headquarters Q attempts to decrypt Silva’s laptop, but inadvertently enables it to hack the MI6 systems, allowing Silva to escape. Pursued by Bond, he uses the tunnel system under London, including part of the London Underground, as part of his plan. Silva disguises himself as a policeman and attacks M during a public inquiry into her handling of the stolen hard drive. Bond arrives to join Mallory and Eve in beating off Silva’s attack, and M is hurried from the building by her aide, Bill Tanner. Bond drives M away from the scene. The ditch the government car since it has a tracker in it and Bond takes M to a storage locker. In it is Bond’s car. The car will be very familier to you. It is the tricked out Aston Martin DB57 used in Goldfinger.
Bond and M drive off and head for Scotland. Here we find out the meaning of the movie title. Skyfall is Bond’s childhood home. It is a large old stone manor. Bond instructs Q to leave an electronic trail for Silva to follow, a decision supported by Mallory. When they go in, the house is deserted and everything is covered up. Bond and M are met by Kincade, the gamekeeper to the Bond family estate.
Bond asks about the family firearms, but they have almost all be sold off along with the manor. Since Bond was declared dead this was the standard procedure for lost agents with no relatives. Still, they have Kincade’s shotgun and the double barrel rifle that belonged to Bond’s father. Knowing that Silva is coming, they start preparing booby traps from the extra ammunition they have.
Silva’s goons arrive and the battle begins. Bond, hiding in the DB5 opens fire with the built in machine guns mounted under the hood of the car. During the firefight, M is wounded. After Bond and Kincade dispatch the first wave, Silva arrives with the second wave.
Bond sends M and Kincade off through a secret tunnel at the back of a priest hole to a chapel on the grounds. The second assault uses firepower from the helicopter, and Silva throws incendiary grenades into the building. Bond detonates two gas canisters with a stick of dynamite and retreats down the same tunnel as M and Kincade. The resulting blast causes the helicopter to crash, killing most of Silva’s men. Silva sees Kincade’s torch beam, follows, and arrives at a frozen lake ahead of Bond. Bond fights Silva’s sole remaining follower, and the two fall through the ice, where Bond kills him. Silva meanwhile makes his way to the chapel and forces his gun into M’s hand where he begs her to kill them both. M pulls the trigger but all that happens is a loud click of the hammer hitting an empty chamber. Silva is about to shoot M when Bond arrives and hits him in the back with a knife. Silva turns, takes a few steps and falls to the ground and dies.
Now, we have some MAJOR SPOILERS HERE!!! Yes, these are even bigger than what you have read so far.
Still here? Ok!
M is gravely wounded. Bond tries to stop the bleeding, but the injury is to bad. M, suffering from the blood loss, dies in Bond’s arms. The next scene is in London on the roof of the MI6 building. Bond is taking in the magnificent view of the London skyline. Eve comes out with a box and tells Bond that M’s will was read and that she had left him the contents. In it was a statue of a bulldog. Eve thinks it means that Bond should leave the field, but Bond tells her that it means just the opposite. Eve said that she is leaving the field and taking a desk job after deciding she really wasn’t cut out for operations. Bond says that they have never formally been introduced. Eve replies that she is Eve Moneypenny and that she is the new M’s administrative assistant.
Bond goes in to meet the new M, Gareth Mallory, who asks him if he’s ready to get back to work. Bond says yes and M assigns him a new case. The end credits begin with the traditional Bond opening where you are looking down a gun barrel and the Bond theme is playing. It is announced that Bond will be back.
This story, along with bits and pieces from the first two Craig films was both a re-imaging of the Bond franchise as well as giving Bond fans answers to the question of where Bond came from and how he became 007. We also find out more about the new M who guided the original Bond’s through 50 years of movies. We also find out who Miss Moneypenny is, along with her first name.
It will be sad to see Judi Dench leave the franchise, but she has been M for 17 years now through two different Bonds. Daniel Craig will be back for at least two more Bond films, and I suspect we will be seeing Eve Moneypenny, Gareth Mallory as M and Ben Wishaw8 as the new Q. Now the big question. Did I like the movie?
Yes I did. I think it’s probably the best of the three Daniel Craig has done and in the top 5 of the whole Bond series. I definitely recommend that you see it, although if you are a fan of the DB5, you will be horrified at what they did to that car. Hopefully it was a mockup they made in the Pinewood Studio props department.
And a funny aside.
I had to step out of the theater for a moment and when I returned I almost collided with a waitress with a tray with a pair of dishes with ice cream in them. After apologizing I kidded her a bit by offering to take them off her hands. She followed me into the theater and I sat down at our table. She was right behind me and the ice cream was for my mother, sister and brother in-law. I told her that she should have given them to me and saved herself the trip. I said this with a smile and in a joking tone of voice. She got a good laugh out of it. As always, please be kind to the servers in a place like this. They are handling your food and they can do things to it you may find unpleasant. Always tip well, unless that server really screws up.
Enjoy the movies!
~The Angry Webmaster~
East Village Film Society: Skyfall
- Daniel Craig [↩]
- Judi Dench [↩]
- Secret Intelligence Service [↩]
- Desmond Llewelyn [↩]
- John Cleese [↩]
- Komodo Dragon [↩]
- Aston Martin DB5 [↩]
- Ben Whishaw [↩]