November 12, 2012
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Skyfall is the twenty-third film in the James Bond series, focussing on Bond’s investigation regarding an attack on MI6; it transpires that it is part of an attack on M by former MI6 operative Raoul Silva. The film was released on November 9 in North America.
This is a curious discussion, given that it is not an anime related matter that falls under discussion this time. However, the opportunity to consider the movie presented itself after I was given the opportunity to see it myself recently, and for what it is worth, the movie is understandably seen as one of the strongest additions to the 007 series yet, breaking away from traditional methods and taking into account the atmosphere in the present-day, while reintroducing all of the classical 007 elements. In particular, the shift from world-domination and gadget-driven elements to character-driven elements stands out from the pre-Daniel Craig 007 movies. Daniel Craig delivers a superb performance as a grittier, more down-to-earth 007 in Skyfall, inspired by elements in the Sean Connery era of 007 films; coupled with Judi Dench’s extended role as M, the characters are presented as more human and vulnerable compared to even the previous Daniel Craig movies as 007. Javier Bardem takes on the role of Raoul Silva, a unique take on a 007 villian motivated not by profit or personal glory, but revenge. Despite his motivations appearing trivial, Silva is depicted as a depraved villian whose desire for revenge exceeds reason: his threat to MI6 as a whole comes from his willingness to use all means to achieve his ends. Naomie Harris plays Eve Moneypenny, and again, breaks out of the character’s traditional role. She accompanies 007 on his missions and is decidedly more active than her forerunners, only consenting to take on a desk job following the film’s events. Despite being a field agent, her exchanges with 007 have all the wit and manner of those seen in previous films. Finally, Ben Whishaw plays the new Q, despite being younger than 007 (yet another first for the franchise). His presentation suggests a quartermaster who is more driven by practicality (as seen in the scene with the new Walther PPK) rather than the fanciful gadgets of older 007 movies. The diverse cast of characters motivate the plot, which proceeds fairly well (the presence of a few minor technicalities, such as Sévérine’s significance, does very little to detract from it) and culminates at the Skyfall Manor. The cinematic elements of audio and visuals are top-notch, from the sound of explosions and gunfire to the panoramas of the locales in the film, ranging from Shanghai to Scotland. Skyfall represents the proper introduction of 007 into a new era where computers and technical know-how are the new weapons, and remind viewers that the transition from the Cold War era, with its clearly defined enemies and allies, is one fraught with difficulty. In today’s age, anyone could be the enemy, especially in light of ever-improving computer technologies, and the fact that this is addressed in Skyfall makes the movie especially relatable and enjoyable to new viewers. Existing fans of 007 will find the return of classical, trademark elements from older 007 movies, including the Aston Martin DB5, complete with ejector seat and forward facing machine guns (Goldfinger), Q’s quip about exploding pens (GoldenEye), the biometric PPK (License to Kill), 007’s note that he has something for M’s eyes only (For Your Eyes Only), amongst others, to be most amusing. For me, the return to the Universal Exports offices seen in Dr. No (1962) all the way until License to Kill (1989) was most welcome.
- All images are obtained from the trailers: I’ve only presented a handful of them here to augment the discussion, and in the order that the scenes appear in the movie, rather than the order of appearance in the trailer.
- The age of Cold-War era schemes by grand organisations motivated by idealogical factors and wealth have long past. Modern criminals are more chaotic and tech-savvy, preferring to use computers to conduct their business in place of bullets.
- Those who praised KyoAni for replicating London so well in the K-On! Movie will probably be disappointed to know that live action does the job even better. That, and the fact that the SIS Building is actually featured in 007 Movies. Unlike the explosion in The World is Not Enough, this scene was created by digitally effects.
- M and Mallory discuss the limitations of MI6. While presented as initially unfriendly towards MI6, Mallory later assists Bond in thwarting Silva’s assassination attempt and permits Bond and Q to carry out an unauthorized mission to draw Silva out into the open.
- Q is competent with computational technologies and the design of down-to-earth gadgets that prove useful to 007: in Macau, one of Sévérine’s bodyguards attempt to use 007’s PPK, only for it to not fire, and the radio transmitter is used to locate 007’s position.
- The cinematography in Skyfall is insane, being directed by Roger Deakins. Every location in the movie (Istanbul, Shanghai, Macau, Hashima island and London) is visualised in beautiful detail.
- I’m not sure such a casino exists in Macau, and Sévérine’s character seems limited. This could be a clever reflection of how Silva regards those that work under him, though.
- Much of Skyfall remains in London, contrasting the more exotic locales found in previous 007 films and signifying that the movie is predominantly about 007’s origins.
- The inclusion of the Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger was particularly clever: the incarnation here even features the very same ejector seat and machine guns hidden behind the headlights. Skyfall manor is located in Scotland, being 007’s home and the scene of the final showdown between 007 and Silva. The desolate moorlands in Scotland appear to be very similar to the location of Hogwarts, and indeed, I found Kincaid, Skyfall’s gamekeeper, to be remarkably similar to Hagrid in character.
- 007 looking over a panorama of London at the Universal Exports headquarters. This marks the end of my discussion: my final verdict is that Skyfall is an excellent addition to the 007 franchise and may be one of the better Bond films around. The next movie is set for release in 2014, according to rumour, but until then, The Hobbit awaits. On an unrelated note, I don’t consider my reviews to be true reviews, but rather, discussions.