001. The story
007 takes the bloody shot and disappears to share a drink with a scorpion, until MI6 gets blown up and surrogate mother M comes under threat from an old protégé with a big grudge. A grudge that takes in the world’s deep cover agents, the London Underground, parliamentary inquiries and a beardy old bloke in a tumbledown Scottish house.
002. The villains
Raoul Silva was betrayed by M to the Chinese, who weren’t very nice to him or his teeth. Now he’s using t’internet to get back at his former employers with a series of elaborate and explosive means, that mostly involves him dressing up as a policeman, talking about rats and chucking an entire tube train at Bond. Silent secondary baddie Patrice is mainly there to be chased a couple of times and to fall out of a window.
003. The girls
It’s said that M is the main Bond girl here, and it’s true that the plot is mainly driven by her and the 007/M relationship (thankfully not physical, though Roger Moore might have been worth a comeback in that regard). We’ve got the spunky but doubt-riddled Eve to back things up, and a classic if underused femme fatale in Severine, who plays the mystery card and gets steamy in the shower with 007 before coming to a booze-sodden end.
004. Best moments
The pre-titles sequence is easily the best for a while as motorbikes, trains and Land Rovers charge through Istanbul towards a dramatic denouement. Also worthy of mention: the neon-framed ‘stalking scene’ between Bond and Patrice in Shanghai, Silva’s Tarantino-esque entrance speech, the race against time through London to save M, and the explosive Home Alone homage finale in Scotland. Oh, and the reveal of that DB5.
» M’s London home was also, in real life, the home of long-time Bond music maestro John Barry.
» This is the second Bond film where 007 is seen with a beard – and the shaving scene with Eve was originally written for the first, Die Another Day, until a Phillips product placement deal came along.
» Skyfall is the first Bond movie in which a character is heard saying the “F word”.
» Titles considered for the movie were ‘A Killing Moon’ ‘Once Upon a Spy’ and ‘Silver Bullet’.
» Sam Mendes is the first Academy Award winning director to take charge of a James Bond movie.
» Mendes considered Sean Connery for the role of Skyfall Lodge’s retainer Kincade, but thought it too self-referential and cast Albert Finney instead.
006. Best quotes
» James Bond: “Some men are coming to kill us. We’re going to kill them first.”
» Q: “I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pyjamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field.”
» Raoul Silva: [caressing Bond] “There’s a first time for everything…”
James Bond: [tied to a chair] “What makes you think this is my first time?”
» James Bond: “Are you gonna complain the whole way?”
M: “Oh, go on, then, eject me. See if I care.”
» Q: “What did you expect, an exploding pen?”
007. The verdict
People often say a Bond actor’s third film is the one where they truly own the role, and it’s true that in Skyfall Daniel Craig totally nails James Bond like none of his predecessors (even Sir Sean). He’s helped by great production values and a sense that everyone is really making an effort to make it work, and it does; yet there’s undeniably something missing in the story department that doesn’t quite equate this to Casino Royale (repeat viewings reveal a number of lazy plot contrivances).
A personal revenge tale is fine, but a genuine threat to the world has been missing in the series for a while now and Javier Bardem’s Silva isn’t on-screen long enough to be a truly hard-hitting antagonist. Still the action is fantastic and the way the new ‘Bond team’ slips nicely into place for the next movie is a fittingly fan-pleasing celebration of the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
What do you think of Skyfall? Let us know below…