Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Skyfall - new, or not?

Daniel Craig's arrival as a new James Bond also heralded a new era for Bond in general. Out went Q, the gadgets and to a large extent, the suave and womanising Bond of old.

Here was a new, young and raw Bond. He wasn't experienced. He didn't play by the rules; put well in to context with him breaking in to M's house. Great stuff. Okay, so it wasn't perfect. But Bond isn't perfect either and the troubles of old are certainly no longer the problems the world faces today.

Skyfall, however, leaves me slightly perplexed. I certainly enjoyed the film. It was shot wonderfully and had all the usual and expected ingredients; at least those I'd expect from a film of its type.

However, it almost completely reintegrated the elements dropped in order to make it new and fresh.

I'll elaborate but herein are spoilers. SPOILERS. I'll be talking about the end (in part) and certain characters. Not seen it? Stop reading.

So lets discuss. Bond cops it fairly early on in the movie and is declared dead. Whether M knows this for sure or not is not clear. She writes his obituary but doesn't seem surprised at his reappearance and her line "Where the hell have you been?" fits with her expecting more from his death than him lying down and taking it. His subsequent unraveling and decline in to drink and substance abuse isn't covered much but a three month gap is mentioned before he returns a shadow of his former self.

This part I liked. He's been off the radar and with injury, simply loses his skills. That he's put back in to active service is a stretch but it's down to M and her soft-spot for Bond's character. Okay, I'll let it go... But would it happen? He isn't the only 00 on the books and with the stakes being what they are, I'm not sure anyone in that position could make the call. Perhaps it's desperation; though it doesn't seem as such from M's character.

I won't cover the story though I thought it was pretty solid. Why wouldn't someone in that position want that kind of revenge?

So what else? He's back to womanising and there are three women in this one. I liked that aspect of Bond, but it does take his character back rather than forward. There is an attempt to explain but it's down to him having a crappy childhood and being orphaned. Hmm.

Next up, the classic Aston. No new Aston for him to chase and destroy and this one still gets wrecked. It's horrible to watch a DB5 get cut to ribbons but it fits with the story. It's a real throw back too... See where I'm going with this?

Then comes Q and the Walther PPK. Both great historical elements that have been brought back and add to the story (well, Q does at least). I'm, again, not sure why the addition - there are no gadgets and it's heavily played on that there won't be any. So why Q? It would seem it is for light relief over content. He's bloody good mind and eventually becomes pivotal in the story; however, I was just expecting him to be there for laughs after his initial introduction.

Finally, there is a new M and Miss Moneypenny. No reason to explore the details of why or how, but they're there and with all the above, the film takes Bond back to the days of Moore and Connery very quickly and if I'm honest, I saw no reason to do so.

The fact James Bond was reduced to a mere human; albeit a ruthless one was one I'd enjoyed. The new film is, as I've said, fantastic and I look forward to the next one - but I'd have like the writers and creators to have gone with the new direction and stuck with it rather than set the franchise up to be nothing more than it was 50 years ago.

I'm probably being harsh. It's not a review; there are plenty of those out there and if I were reviewing it for what it is, I'd have to compliment it. I'm just a bit miffed it's not brave enough to stand out a bit more.

A good friend of mine said the end is a "reboot" for the franchise. He was right in part - it does indeed reboot things. There is a definite end to the film and the current set of stories. It'll be interesting to see where it goes next.

Should you go and see it? Yes. Just don't expect anything new (beyond the cinematography).