Films We’ve Watched: Skyfall (2012)

8 Nov

I’m going to say something that a great many people do not like to hear. A host of venerable actors have held the post and pistol of Bond over the years, but I believe Daniel Craig to be the best of them. After years of gentrification at the hands of Brosnan, Craig has brought Bond roaring back into the realm of relevance with fisfuls of grit and raw power, and all the suave that’s become inherent in the role. To take this sacrilege one step further, I think Skyfall has a solid case as one of the best Bond movies to date.


The only major flaw in this film, is that it should have been the first of the Daniel Craig series. It gives the smooth transition from the old Bond to the new that Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace never provided. The character of 007 shifted significantly with the introduction of Craig, and Skyfall seems designed to act as a defense and an explanation for why Bond has changed, and a reminder of why he mattered so much in the first place.

This movie is not a triumphant display of Bond at the peak of his prowess, nor a showcase of the ingenuity of British intelligence forces. It is precisely the opposite. Within 30 minutes of the film’s beginning we see Bond injured and in hiding, reduced to a loafing, drunken beachside rendition of The Most Interesting Man in the World, the MI6 building bombed and the organization forced into repurposed WWII bunkers, and the very relevance of field agents and the 00 program under severe scrutiny by the British government.

Mr. Bond emerges from his self-imposed exile and returns to duty shortly after learning of the MI6 bombing, but as a mere shell of his former glory. His edge is gone, his nerves rattled, and his fitness shot. Bond becomes a mere mortal in an agent’s world; still better, faster, and stronger than the likes of you and I, but not quite the silk-smooth dealer of love and death he once was. Instead of watching him waltz cooly through fire without singeing his finely tailored suit, we get to see him wince and struggle and doubt. We get to see a Bond with pathos whose greatest enemy is his own limitations.

References to Bond’s age seem to act as parallels to the age and kitsch of the franchise itself. James is constantly reminded of the fact that he’s an old dog up against new tricks and, quite frankly, he struggles to keep up. He’s forced to consider if muscle and a trigger are still relevant in a world where the enemy doesn’t wear a uniform and prefers a computer to an assualt rifle. When Bond scoffs at the simplicity of a gagdet presented to him by MI6’s newer, hipper, Benedict Cumberbatch-esque version of Q, Q quickly retorts, “Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don’t really go for that anymore.”

It’s from this bleak scattering of ashes that we finally see Bond rise. When a fantastically creepy Javier Bardem, asks Bond if he possesses any hobbies, the answer is simply, “Resurrection.”

We start to see 007’s swagger return as he simultaneously pokes fun at his own stylistic antiquity, while embracing it as the force of nature that it is, and the finely-tailored suit starts to fit again as Bond learns the value of being a manual weapon in a digital war.  In one crucial moment, as an attack on M is overlayed with a chill-inducing reading from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s Ulysses, you are reminded why you always loved this character, and exactly why he has stayed relevant in a constantly shifting world.

“We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

With all options exhausted, Bond and M pull the tarp off a retired Aston Martin prepared to take the fight to a more level playing field. When asked where he’s going, Bond responds, “Back in time. Where we’ll have the advantage.”

The rest of the film is best watched on its own terms and without previous discussion. But suffice it to say, that this is a Bond movie for anyone who has ever loved a Bond movie. If you have ever caught goosebumps from hearing the sting of the Bond theme played at just the right moment, daydreamed of spy gadgets, or stirred a martini then you should already be lined up at the theater.

God Save the Queen,



One Response to “Films We’ve Watched: Skyfall (2012)”

  1. taylor November 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    You go blakers!!!

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