Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Skyfall": James Bond gets worked on

When you go to see a James Bond movie, you expect to see a world travelogue in four or five exotic locales, and original action and escape sequences – against a stereotyped plot.  British Secret Agent “007” James Bond is the good guy, and there is always a new villain who just wants to be Bad.  It sounds like comic book stuff.

Sam Mendes’s latest installment, “Skyfall” has a great , impassioned theme song (it will surely get an Oscar nomination)

Judi Dench brings a real character to the film as M, a devoted public servant who is not afraid to be ruthless and order “take the shot”.  That sets up the story line:  James Bond (Daniel Craig) gets shot off a freight train (about to enter a tunnel) in a clash, by Eve (Naomie Harris) in the prologue.  He is thought to have expired, but, behold, he rises from the dead.  He has to pass “the tests” which include some exercises with a hidden Holter Monitor. 

The rest of the movie is a race to bring down Silva (Javier Bardem, made blond, to look like hacker Julian Assange).  It takes us to Shanghai (in a dazzling sequence that makes you want to board a plane), the Indian Ocean, and then a deserted island off the coast of Japan (with a ruined city that reminds one of a similar sequence in “Inception”), to the London Underground (where there will be a horrific subway wreck), and finally to a castle in Scotland.

We meet Silva in the abandoned city, and he seems foppish, pretending to be gay when he approaches Bond to unbutton him for chest work (at issue was a uranium pellet that had once lodged near his collar). That scene might have been even more provocative with the original Sean Connery (at least as he was in 1962). Think about it.   For the rest of the movie, Silva stays in the land of comics. 

The next in command, at the Secret Service, is Gareth Mallory, played by a solid Ralph Fiennes.

“Q” is a very slender, attractive youthful geek (Ben Whishaw, the composer-pianist in “Cloud Atlas”), who takes command of everything during the subway disaster sequence.  Somebody like “Q” is probably much more physically capable than most people realize, maybe even  able to pass a Seals (or secret agents) physical himself.

MGM has been resurrected for a few special movies, like this one, along with Columbia a distributor; the official site is here. The best Bond ever?  How about "Dr.No!"

Wikipedia attribution link for northern Scotland picture  I was near this area on the northernmost railroad in November 1982.  

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