On Saturday Radka and I went to see Skyfall, the latest James Bond film. I enjoyed it. Daniel Craig’s 007 was physically convincing and seems to me to be closer to Ian Fleming’s original concept of “a blunt instrument employed by a government department” than any previous Bond (even Connery’s, who was just too charming), the locations were stunning, the ladies were beautiful, the stunts astonishing. In short it was pretty much all I could want or expect from a Bond movie.
Javier Bardem’s villain, Silva, was both camp and frightening, a combination that is difficult to pull off but which he managed very handily. He suffered a little too much from the modern movie supervillain’s omniscience for my liking– being able to predict what would happen at one point right down to placing explosives to derail a tube-train to forestall Bond’s pursuit as he escaped through subterranean London. This is the only real criticism that occurred to me at the time and, let’s face it, a Bond review is probably the wrong place to quibble about a lack of realism.
The set-pieces were jaw-dropping, particularly an assassination attempt on top of a skyscraper in Shanghai that took place to the flicker of gigantic neon signs– very cyberpunk. The climax, set in a cold and chilling-looking Scottish Highlands, worked very well. I found the ending quite moving and got a certain nostalgic thrill out of the reappearance of the Aston Martin I remembered having as a Dinky toy when I was a kid. (It may just be my memory playing tricks but I would swear it was a different colour though.)
This was very much a changing of the guard movie– I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoilers– and it was about as thoughtful as a Bond movie is ever going to get on the subject of mortality, heroism and the ruthlessness needed for command. A couple of new versions of old characters are introduced and it looks like the reboot begun in Casino Royale is well and truly done now. If you like Bond movies you’ve probably already seen it but I just thought I would add my voice to the general chorus of approbation.