Skyfall: The Significance of 50, The Power of 3
By Tim Romines (@TimRomines76)
When Skyfall was released last year, there were a couple of numbers that received a lot of publicity. One of those was 23, as in the twenty-third film in the EON produced James Bond series, an impressive achievement that is unlikely to ever be duplicated, especially considering the sometimes radical changes in tone that each lead actor, writers & directors brought through the various eras. Of course, the other much ballyhooed number was 50, marking the Golden Anniversary of Ian Fleming’s secret agent on the silver screen and, thus, cementing 007’s status as an enduring pop culture icon that will likely exist in some form forever.
As important and historic as those numerals are, the number that will stay with me whenever I think of Skyfall is 3. That figure represents the generations who sat in a packed, state-of-the-art auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee anxiously awaiting the further adventures of Agent 007. As I sat there between my dad, Doug & my son, Drake, I was struck by the sentiment that this was the way it was always meant to be; sharing the action & thrills of a Bond film with people you relish spending time with and having a superb time doing it. I became acquainted with James Bond by watching with my dad, my son picked it up from me and now here we were, together among other folks with a communal love for this character, wondering where his latest excursion would take us. As the lights were lowered, I felt like we might be in for something special and I’m delighted to say I was right.
Let’s Do The Time Warp Again
From the excellent introductory shot of an out of focus Bond, accompanied by the familiar musical cue, to Adele’s lush & gorgeously haunting theme, (which, considering my mood on any given day, is constantly battling Paul McCartney’s Live And Let Die for the number two spot, since Dame Shirley & Goldfinger sits firmly on top of my favorites list), all the way up to the magnificent, goose bump raising denouement, (more on that in a bit), Skyfall succeeds by paying just the right amount of respect & homage to all that came before, while continuing to move the franchise in the only logical direction it can go. Yeah, yeah, I know that some of the tributes in this movie made no sense continuity wise, (I’m looking in particular at the Aston Martin DB5, in spite of its unveiling being a highlight moment for me personally), but let’s be blunt, EON has never made tight continuity a high priority in this franchise anyhow. That being said, I chose to just go with it & enjoy the ride, timeline glitches and all; I feel that was a wise decision. The classic elements are all there; a menacingly memorable villain, the ill-fated love interest, the mind-blowing stunts, top-notch scoring and the gorgeous scenery that are Bond hallmarks. We are finally reintroduced to beloved characters, albeit revamped & reimagined, such as Miss Moneypenny & Q, along with a new take on the classic M. However, this story takes the narrative into uncharted waters that I absolutely adore. We get intimate portraits of Bond, deeply delving into his troubled, unfortunate past for the first time in five decades, and we get distinct, plausible looks into what make M & Silva tick, making their actions all the more relatable. Silva, (Javier Bardem, chewing scenery & clearly having a ball), isn’t trying to take over the world akin to assorted SPECTRE, SMERSH or Quantum schemes. He simply wants revenge on the one person whom he feels betrayed him, (she did), and will rack up as much collateral damage as it takes to get said vengeance, (he does). The exploration of his failed professional relationship with M, (played to the bitter end by the legendary Judi Dench), especially when compared with the total trust, respect &, (dare I say it?), love she ultimately shares with Bond, is heartbreaking, compelling and eventually leads to a tragic culmination to their story. In fact, how they both failed to receive Oscar gold based solely on their face to face confrontation scene at MI6 will forevermore remain a mystery to me. Silva’s gut-wrenching revelation of his emotional, mental & physical scarring, (as well as M’s & Bond’s reactions to it), is chilling, disturbing and played to perfection on every hand. With Silva, we view the twisted reflection of whom Bond could have easily became in the right circumstances, were he a man of lesser convictions, and that is simply brilliant. It makes him one of the most complex and convincing rogues in Bond history.
And What of Bond Himself?
Yes, this film has been criticized for being pitch dark at times but there are also moments of levity that are organic and genuine and it serves the story well. Case in point, the museum exchange between Bond & Q is funny, clever and oddly poignant but never induces the eye rolls that some Bondian humor has in the past; I could recite examples all day but I will spare you from such unpleasantness. Daniel Craig is still brooding and cynical, (the same recollection of Fleming’s literary Bond that Timothy Dalton was so unfairly criticized for in the 80’s), but here he finally looks utterly comfortable in 007’s skin and I feel that this is the film that silenced most doubters for good. I’ll say it boldly, Daniel Craig is not a place holder, he IS James Bond, (as much so as Sean Connery), and he has redefined an icon for a new millennium. His portrayal has, thankfully, reestablished Bond as a relevant, contemporary action hero, whilst restoring credibility to a character that has been oft abused in the past. Candidly, I feel for whoever is tasked with stepping into his shoes when he departs the role and that’s the supreme compliment I can possibly grant him. Oh, having said all of that, let us please discuss that final scene. When we get the splendid shot of James looking over London, his city, with flags flying and stirring music in the background, we are reminded that true patriotism isn’t about pushing various political agendas, whatever they may be, but is rather the unwavering belief that you live in the greatest country on the planet, wherever that may be, and aren’t afraid to admit it or embrace it. In a nutshell, this encapsulates what I sincerely love about Commander James Bond; Girls, gadgets & catchphrases aside, 007 loves his country and will defend it, and its citizens, with his last breath and that, my friends, is the definition of a hero. Finally, in my humble opinion, anyone who wasn’t thoroughly geeked at the concluding image of M sending Her Majesty’s Secret Service Agent 007, (licensed to kill), off to his next exploit should probably turn in their Bond fan cards. Straightaway.
When the film was over, amid the elation and applause, I looked to either side of me and was exceedingly grateful to have shared this experience with two of my favorite people on Earth, (I’m getting a wee bit choked up as I write this now). We were thrilled by what we had seen and proceeded to critique the film on the ride home, pointing out our favorite bits. We all agreed that it was time well spent and, in the end, isn’t that the entire point? Looking back, I can’t help but ruminate that moments…memories…just like that will be exactly what keep James Bond valid for 50 years more and well beyond. Thanks Mr. Fleming, we are forever in your debt.
Tim Romines (@TimRomines76) is a husband, father, chef & infrequent blogger, (in that order,) living in the shadows of Rocky Top in East Tennessee. His interests are so varied, they border on absurdity, but food, superheroes, Sci-Fi, horror &, of course, James Bond are but a few. You can read his semi-coherent ramblings at rominesrants.tumblr.com
First Bond Film: Moonraker. I came back in spite of that.
Favorite Bond: With immense respect to all actors involved, Connery & Craig are tops for me.
Favorite Bond Girl: Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di’Vicenzo Bond (Diana Rigg) & Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). So much more than helpless victims, they were smart, clever & brave. They won Bond’s heart and that makes them special.
How I discovered #Bond_age_: When I first joined Twitter, I was searching for Bond content & @007hertzrumble was among the first things to pop up. I thought it all sounded extremely fun & here we are.