Michael Turnbull Skyfall: The Bond We Never Wanted

When I think Bond, I think 4 things: Cars, Guns, Girls, Gadgets.
Pretty standard stuff when it comes to Bond. They are the staples of the Ian Fleming character we have all grown up with and love. Before I tackle this beast of a film, lets start with some standard James Bond fanfare.

James Bond is a suave, sexy spy who’s class is only outshone by his lust for women. He’s a devilish savant, who beds woman after woman, good or bad, has a license to kill, and can walk through a hail of bullet fire without his hair going out of place. Well, at least Brosnan could.

The whole concept of Bond was these lavish, over the top ideas of what spy culture was. Written by a spy himself, Fleming was a boss, (Canadian too, represent) but he knew that standard spy fare was dry and dull, the stuff of mediocrity. Having these OTT world ruling villains with grandiose schemes ranging from high powered laser satellites, to unleashing Godzilla, gave a sense of humor to the idea, and complemented our protagonist, who iss the perfect man for the job.

Bond is like the Batman of the Brits.
He’s smart, witty and played by more than one actor. Wait... smart, witty and uses gadgets, there we go. Whether his aston martin had machine guns and ejection seats, or his phone had the ability to drive a car, or be a grappling hook, or his briefcase turned into a small helicopter, Bond could do just about everything. He was the MacGyver of spies. Or was MacGyver the Bond of mediocrity? In just about any situation he could use one of his trusty widgets to get himself to safety. It’s like the gadgets had read the script.

Bond’s only weakness, was his love of the women. Confident, sexy, classy broads who would walk a fine line between crazy and crazy hot. Whether they were good or bad, they would inevitably have Bond chase them around like a horny 17 yr old until he had jumped through all their hoops to do totally filthy things to them. Probably very tame things by modern standings.

The last element to the franchise was Bond himself.
Played by a slew of actors, Bond became almost a social standing.

Those who were Bonds became infamous with sex and culture.

To be a Bond was to be endowed with the utmost honor. Though some of the bonds were a little lack luster, each had their flavour:

Sean Connery: A suave, smooth talking son of a bitch, who started the series and showed everyone how one man can make an entire room of women pregnant.

Pierce Brosnan: A Ken doll emulating humanity, who’s pretty boy antics brought in a new wave of metrosexual hijinx to spawn up everywhere. Tough pretty men, who couldn’t ruffle their hair, became the standard of ‘real men’ from then on.

And there were other Bonds I’m sure.
But then came along my man, Clive Owen, or Craig Ferguson or whatever. This motherfucker was an absolute badass. 2006’s Casino Royale had Bond showing off that he could have his stylish, classy persona accented by ACTUAL action. Like, not two or three karate chops to clear a room of 26 men, like, fight a man with a machete with his bare hands, get sliced up and break his neck on the swing around.

He was interrogated with actual torture. Beaten, bruised, bloodied up and throw to the dogs. He was stuck naked in a bottomless chair having his balls smashed while smiling and asking for a little more.

(He probably had dirtier sex than Connery)

He was what a revamp needed, a stone cold heartless killing machine that could wreck the fuck out of any man who attempted to try. Yet still be a sexy, cocky, and engaging. Daniel Craig was (for me at least) the Bond of Bonds, the new franchise face that would make sense to a generation of CoD kids looking for a quick kill with itchy trigger fingers.

How do you get a slow moving franchise who has lost money on their movies to reboot for a generation that cares more about Apple products than secret agents? You make everyone hypercharged. You make them sexy, to the point, and you build their characters fast. You then make it look hyper modern, and get a fashion designer to dress them up to the 9s. Craig was the badass we’d been waiting for.... And then we got Quantum of Solace.

Now, I’ve gone off on a tangent for sure. So lets get back to the fucking point here.

After MGM got into some serious problems and couldn’t figure out what the fuck to do with all their IP, they sold a chunk of it to Activision for videogames, and let the movie IP sit dormant to wait for it’s glorious return... to Skyfall? Was this in the Ian Fleming books? Fuck if I know. I am pretty sure Bond was supposed to be a Brit, yet my Scott friends remind me that Bond is indeed a Scotsman. And not just because of Connery, but because the family tree for Bond is legitimately Scottish.

Skyfall opens to a sequence of a man who is being chased by the Bond reminiscent from Casino Royale, but distinctly slower. This half pace sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Which is really just a few chase scenes punctuated by painful, uninteresting bureaucracy surrounding M.

Bond recovers from a fatal shooting, and after dealing with ‘rampant’ alcoholism, he crawls back to a blown up MI6, goes to their new underground headquarters and is tested as an agent again.

The movie surrounds this idea of how Bond is in recovery. He’s recovering from a bullet wound, he’s recovering from ‘substance abuse’, from being off for 3 months, and it shows. Man can’t shoot straight, run properly or even do a handful of chin ups.

He then gets miraculously put back in line by M, who only trusts him because... she likes his company? I don’t remember M cutting him any slack before, especially after he has failed all of his secret agent training tests.

This is where the movie turns in the wrong direction.

They put an old, frustrated, useless agent back on the scene, and send him to meetswith everyone’s favourite gadget guy Q, who could legitimately save him, but Q doesn’t give him anything. (He gives him a gun and a radio transmitter) Not a single gadget. No cellphone that drives cars, no grappling hook watch, no shoe phone. Absolutely nothing. Q even says ‘what man, were you expecting an exploding pen or something? We don’t really do that kind of thing.”

It’s the nail in the coffin. It’s the Bond USP... Tossed away, without care. This is when Daniel Craig as an actor becomes hindered by poor writing and horrendous plot development.

Everyone’s seen Girl with Dragon Tattoo right? In it, Craig is a suave older gent, who picks up young and old chicks a like, cuz he’s a wicked investigative journalist. That’s basically what Bond is. But now you have removed the additional element that allows him to be clever, to get out of these wild scenarios just in time. You have removed the gadgets from the bat-belt, and now you’re left with a shell of a god, you are left with a lack-luster action hero.

Many franchises take this route. And it is true that Casino Royale, definitely one of my favourite Bonds, gives Craig nothing as well. But in that film, there is no Q. There is no reason to give him the get out of jail free card. The movie revolves around a green up and coming agent. He wasn’t the dapper gent we all knew and loved, but in Skyfall he’s positioned this way. And as an audience, we’re being actively lied to. We’re being told he’s an older man, out of the game, that his marksmanship is garbage, and that he can barely keep himself together. But we’re sending him out anyway.

Enter the most boring Bond villain of all time.
An agent who was M’s favourite before James, Javier Bardem, is a nut job reminiscent of his previous roles as bad guys, where he walks a fine line between daddy issues and his pretend attempt as a struggling homosexual. Which isn’t actually true in this case, they just force it in to say ‘See how confused he is?’ His megalomaniacal plot is to takeover all of the world’s communications (which is easy apparently) dupe Bond into winning, and then secretly sneak into MI6 to chase after the one who has harmed him most... M.

Man, what a plot.
Ex-Agent Javier Bardem (I actually don’t remember his name whatsoever in the film) Voldemort, plans to take back what he had rightfully earned. The love of his parent officer. Bond is always one step behind Voldemort, until he luckily saves M in a shootout, hops into an Aston Martin, from an older film, and tells M that sometimes, doing things the old way is what’s best.

Now, There is a trend in movies right now that is focusing directly on one specific market: The retiring Baby and Echo Booming generation. Since they have time to spend watching movies, all the movies are geared towards them. Taking a quick look back over the last two or three years will prove my point. I’ll let you do it, because you’ll try to inevitably prove me wrong, but really, when movies like ‘an old man and his robot’ and “The Expendables 2’ are hitting movie fronts, they are clearly looking for one thing, Viagra.

The movie then turns for it’s worst cross over yet... James Bond: Home Alone (with M and some strange old man) It turns out Skyfall is Bond’s old house! Right? That makes perfect sense, because the whole movie surround M, yet we really want the back story of Bond... M sums it up rather eloquently actually: ‘Orphans always make the best agents.’ What a twisted bitch, but you can’t suck your dick to the top here, and Judy Dench has earned every acting award legitimately. She is the toughest, bad-assest woman to grace a screen, and she could whoop ol’ Bond around all day.

They realize that there are no weapons in the old house, so we are graciously given a montage of the three characters making homemade weapons and traps.

The scenes feel almost ripped out of Home Alone 2, and the idea that a wave of bad guys are going to fall for all these traps, is cheesier than any film to date.

Oh wait, here comes that one guy with his shotgun... he’s gonna step on that creaking floor panel filled with homemade explosives! BOOM! High five! We got uhm Bond!

Oh what’s that? A chandelier filled with screws and explosive makeshift weapons? BOOM! 6 men dead. How convenient.

I’m gonna wrap this up here, because I’m so bored of writing about such filth. But trust me, this movie finishes off just a porrly as it starts.

The entertainment industry is going through a rough patch right now. It’s an identity crisis brought about by market confusion and instant gratification. We forget that these old IPs have lasted 50+ years for a reason, because they stuck to their guns. Innovating on everything, excluding the core ingredients.

Most of these books were written in the 50s before Fleming passed away in ‘64. The ideas designed for spy gear then are way out of date by today’s standards, but that doesn’t matter. See the thing is, there will always be a bigger, better, cooler weapon or device, and for an audience, that’s what keeps Bond contemporary. Bond is like Instagram, the ingredients of making an attractive photo pale in comparisson to the gorgeous colour that it is given to make it engaging. The staples are there not as a crutch, but as a guide. They are the ingredients to making a good fun film.

The parallel can be made to the Nolan Batman trilogy. Turning what is fantasy into something tangible can be rewarding, like in Dark Knight. But like of that in Dark Knight Rises, Batman fights with being an intelligent mastermind and an action hero. Bond faces the same problem. Do I duke it out? Or kick it old school like my boys before me, and stop and think this one through?

Daniel Craig is a spectacular actor, and no doubt could have transitioned from the Jason Bourne he was in 2006 to the Sean Connery that we all secretly love. Skyfall is the amalgamation of what quick indecisive writing and a high budget garner, and it’s the last time I put trust in Bond.

It was a stellar run man.


Very interesting info!Perfect just what I was looking for!

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