On the car ride home, a few friends and I were discussing a few random memories and some Bond trivia, most of which I was able to place or answer. It turns out that spending most of a winter vacation in South Carolina watching the 007 Days of Christmas and another summer watching a Bond film every day turns one into quite a Bond aficionado. Over 20 movies and almost 50 years, the series has changed quite a bit, and the latest installment matches the grittier tone of the last 2 Bond movies.
In “Skyfall”, Daniel Craig’s James Bond comes back to duty in poor mental and physical shape when MI6, the British intelligence agency, is itself under attack. Instead of dealing with international crises, Bond pursues a mysterious villain (Javier Bardem, known for No Country for Old Men) along with the help of fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris), Q (Ben Whishaw), and M (Judi Dench), leading him to trains, cars, subways, and more around the world.
The movie plays around with several different aspects of a traditional Bond movie, mostly for the best. Today, technology far outreaches our imagination 50 years ago, and the newer movies have done away with Bond gadgets in favor of technology itself. Q is portrayed as a geeky hacker who is more interested in decryption than new toys. This modernizing process fits well into the scheme of an intelligence agency, strange as it may be to see the pensive Bond breaking codes.
The story also engages Bond’s character more directly as his role as an agent is challenged. Just like our heroes, Bond ages, and his story brings up the usual questions about his ability to continue and his purpose in life. Despite knowing much about Bond’s personality and preferences in guns, vehicles, drinks, and other pleasures, we have rarely seen character development in him in the past. In line with the grittier feel, the past Craig-age Bond movies have emphasized his ruthless, tenacious, unquestioning personality, all of which we continue to see.
The violence continues as Bond mixes up with the usual henchmen with guns, fists, and more. The fights are brutal but an immense joy to watch, and the stunts show off much improved pursuit skills since Casino Royale. Expect the usual accents as well, with a few grim jokes and a bit more class from Bond.
Overall, Skyfall completes this trilogy of movies. Its action fits the currently popular grittiness best exemplified by the Bourne Identity, a similar set of movies. For the fans of the classic movies, you may continue to be disappointed with the new style, though you may appreciate the references sprinkled throughout. So choose to see it as you intended: whatever your expectations of it were, it delivers.