More HMSS reviews of Skyfall, conclusion

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

Final Skyfall review originally written for a never-published issue of Her Majesty’s Secret Servant.

Robert Cotton, the HMSS senior of the Web site’s film section, decided to do something different when he wrote about Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film.

His piece, besides being a review, is also an essay about how and why the Bond film series has evolved. It’s also part memoir: the bookends of the story provide an anecdote of how people become fans in the first place.

To accommodate the story, we created a A SEPARATE PAGE for the essay. Some excerpts:

(M)y father and I had a shared experience with each new film. It became part of our lives no matter where we were on this earth, to mark that day, to plan somehow to rendezvous for the opening day of the next Bond. And that was worldwide. No matter what happened, where we were, we tried to move heaven and earth to be there for that single event. Sometimes, we failed due to time and place and the occurrences which pull people away uncontrollably, but no matter where we were, singularly or plural, we went to see the new Bond on opening day and at minimum discussed the whole thing, shared the experience as best we could even from a distance. This was our tradition. Enough backstory. On with the review.

Right off the bat, I would like to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Skyfall. We will get to the usual review material as we go, but this is the smartest Bond film I can remember and while I still like Casino Royale more, mainly because of the sense of discovery, of a new agent learning the ropes as it were, Skyfall seems to me the most thoughtful of the series and that is where we are going to start.

(snip)

Yes, dear reader, instead of a barely serviceable plot with trademarked Nehru jacket and cat, we’ve been given revenge from the other side. Whereas last time Bond went after everyone on the planet to apparently burn off the death of Vesper, this time he has to stop an agent of his own caliber who is actually doing the same thing Bond was doing last time we saw him, seeking revenge as a rogue agent. It’s an interesting way to bring us back into the franchise storyline and I quite enjoyed it. We are given a villain who is actually an equal of Bond’s and who is out to destroy an organization (in this case MI6, in Bond’s case SPECTRE, QUANTUM, etc.) by toppling the head of that organization, which is what Bond does best. I quite liked the dichotomy and it led me far further into the story than I had expected.

(snip)

Silva’s motivation is Bond’s. The villain and the hero literally go through the same mental processes and that is where this film soars. Before Bond even got there, Silva was M’s favorite. She built him up and let him fall and now the same thing has happened to her new favorite. The difference is in the outcome. Bond returns to the service out of both a sense of duty and because he cannot exist in the outside world. Bond returns angry, filled with blame, but ready to do it again for Queen and country. Bond is searching for redemption. Silva, on the other hand turns those very same motivating emotions into a desire for vengeance and his return is in order to destroy his betrayer and the organization she heads. Ironically Silva’s return becomes the vehicle for Bond’s resurrection, a theme that plays out throughout the film.

(snip)
Try watching You Only Live Twice without keeping it within the context of the 1960s and you will see what I mean.
Writing styles change. If in the middle of Diamonds Are Forever, Bond had paused, had reflected on his mission, on what he was doing with his life, on his childhood, the audience would have left in droves. The same applies today if Craig’s Bond walked into a nightclub and started spouting Roger Moore lines while trying to keep his eyebrow cocked. The times have changed. I will always give the series immense credit for keeping up with the world around it.

To read the entire essay, CLICK HERE.

One Response

  1. Whew! That was close!
    For a minute, I thought an opposing viewpoint was going to be accidently released here. Glad to see the goose-stepping behind SKYFALL is unfaltering, though it is getting to be a bit embarrassing now.
    How would Oscar Wilde have put it: “To post one glowing review may be regarded as admiration, to post five seems like desperation.”

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