Me and Skyfall have a strange relationship. I loved the movie. I really did. But it’s not a good BOND movie. It’s a great spy movie. Great action movie. But there is so much about it that isn’t Bond . . . or at least isn’t the Bond I know and love.
When I am around people who like Skyfall, I criticize it. When I am around people who don’t like Skyfall, I defend.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think Bond needs to be a maverick cop who plays by his own rules. I think we’ve got plenty of those already. However, I don’t think we need pouty Bond either. Bond doesn’t do emo. He just doesn’t.
Bond “retiring” after being shot because M didn’t trust him (or something)? I’m sorry, but the only thing Bond should have been upset about was that he wasn’t the one taking the shot. Scratch that, he should have been upset that he let it get so bad. Moneypenny shouldn’t have had to take the shot, but frankly, she did, and Bond should have been professional enough to bitch at M about it for a bit during his recovery, and then agree that she was right. Bond’s a professional, and he did not have the situation under control. He’s smart enough to recognize that, or at least he should be.
The Bond girl didn’t need to die, or at least not that way. If Bond couldn’t get the upper hand on the bad guys, then okay, but he obviously could. He should have done it. He should have done it even before Silva gave him the gun. That would have reversed expectations.
I don’t think it makes sense to have the third Bond with Daniel Craig be the one where he’s too old for this shit. I mean, Casino Royale was his first ’00’ mission, so does it make sense that two movies later it’s time for him to retire? It’s an interesting concept, and if we see these movies as being in a loosely connected series, but not necessarily in chronological order—like Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories, where sometimes he’s a young thief and sometimes he’s a king—this could work, but that doesn’t seem to be how they are playing this.
When I say Bond shouldn’t be emo, I don’t think that means there should be no character growth, nor that I don’t think he should have emotions. I do think that Bond is pretty much a psychopath. I mean, who could do that job and not be at least a little divorced from normal human empathy? However, my favourite Bond novels are the unofficial trilogy of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, and the Man with the Golden Gun. These three novels together form a huge character arc for Bond, one which sees him fall in love, marry, lose his wife, suffer depression, be shocked back into action, lose his identity, betray M, and then be sent on a suicide mission. The Bond of the movies might be an iconic character, but the Bond of the novels is not, and while I am not a fan of the misogyny and racism in the books, I do like the story lines and the Bond character better.
So I should just out and out dislike the movie, right? The problem is that Skyfall is a great movie. It’s a great spy movie. I think it would have still done well without the Bond name on it. However it is a Bond movie, and I think I shall simply have to come to terms with it. I like Daniel Craig as Bond, He can do an excellent high-functioning, attack dog, psychopath when he wants. He can deliver the cold, blunt instrument Bond on the screen. And the movies have always played with Bond, have always changed him. Even Connery was not the Bond of the books. He got close. In Dr. No and From Russia With Love, he got very close. The only other one in the ballpark has been Craig.
I could stomach Pierce Brosnan as Bond, even though he was part Connery and part Moore (shudder). I could stomach Timothy Dalton, because I think he was trying to channel the novels’ Bond, but toned-down. I could even stomach George Lazneby, because of my love for both the OHMSS novel—which the movie followed relatively closely—and Diana Rigg, who makes one believe she is a woman whom Bond could marry.
If I can stomach all that, I can stomach this new Bond that will likely be the Craig version. I wish we could go back and start over, with a different sequel to Casino Royale. I wish we could go back and restart the series by following the novels. Maybe not Live and Let Die, of which I am really not a fan, but let’s go and do a Moonraker closer to the novel, without the ex-Nazi storyline, but maybe ex-Smersh or NKVD and keep the threat of a nuke in London. I mean, that could totally work.
Since I have no time machine and no pull with Hollywood, I shall just have to accept this new version of Bond. I like Craig as Bond. I’ll learn to like the stories. If I don’t, I just won’t have Bond movies. That would suck. It would be like 1973 to 1987 all over again.
You can find more information on Skyfall at Wikipedia, here.