Friday, 4 November 2011

Some Thoughts on Bond 23: "Skyfall"

At the press conference for the 23rd James Bond film, producer Michael G. Wilson jokingly called it the "worst kept secret in London." He was referring to the title of the film, Skyfall, a title which was leaked as a rumoured title a few weeks ago.

I'm a big Bond fan and whatever the title, without getting too hyperbolic, I think this film will prove to be a great Bond film, maybe one of the best, and dare I say it, maybe better than my favourite Bond film, Casino Royale. The cast definitely intrigues me. Javier Bardem will play the villain and as Bardem hinted at the press conference, "Who told you a villain is a bad person," which suggests a more morally complex villain than the last two Bond villains, Le Chiffre and Dominic Greene. Ralph Fiennes also stars in a role that director Sam Mendes can't say anything about. This supposedly has to do with Bond fans recognizing the name. Will Fiennes play Blofeld, as many are speculating. I could definitely see Fiennes rocking the bald head and stroking a white cat, though the whole cat thing would probably come across as self parody.

Ben Whishaw also plays a role Mendes couldn't talk about. There's been speculation he could play Major Boothroyd a.k.a "Q." I could see them bringing back Q as a young man instead of the older man we've come to love throughout most of the series, Desmond Llewelyn. While the franchise shouldn't become to gadgety all of a sudden, it'd be great to see Q back, particularly if, aside from being younger, they give a different spin on the character; maybe make him more admiring of Bond than Llewelyn or John Cleese's Q was.

Naomie Harris was rumoured to play Moneypenny but seems now to be playing a field agent named Eve. People are wondering if Eve could be Moneypenny's real name in this film. I always though it'd be interesting to involve Moneypenny in the plot of the film but so far this character doesn't sound like Moneypenny.

Judi Dench's M seems to be front and center in the film. The plot description says   "Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost." People have noted the comparison between this plot synopsis and The World is Not Enough, which was the last time M, also played by Judi Dench has a more significent role. That was one of the interesting aspects of one of the more humane Bond films of the last decade. I think if this is Dench's last outing as M, it'll be great for her to go out on an emotional and complex note. Could it also pave the way for recently cast Albert Finney to be M?

Berenice Marolhe, French actress and model, is playing Severin, the new Bond girl. Severin is described as "glamorous and enigmatic." Hopefully after Eva Green's Vesper and Olga Kurylenko's Camille, the filmmakers will continue making Bond girls who are Bond's equal as well as interesting characters who aren't just there for Bond to sleep with. All we need to do is wait a few years and Emma Stone will be reading to take the mantel!

I'm in the minority in thinking Quantum of Solace is one of the more underrated entries in the series but as solid as that film was, I think Skyfall may be the sequel to Casino Royale people really want. Ironically, according to Mendes, this film will be a self-contained adventure, without references to Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. This makes sense since the last two films were about establishing how Bond became Bond, so to speak. In this film he can just be Bond...James Bond. Most Bond films have been self-contained adventures so this film will fit in with the continuity style of most of the films. Craig described the film yesterday as "Bond with a capital 'B'" which makes me excited for how the filmmakers  combine a more classical Bond film with the sensibilities that were established in Casino Royale. The idea of a Bond movie with these two sensibilities makes me feel Skyfall  could arguably be better than Casino Royale or at least reach the heights of that film. It'll have to have the emotional poignancy of that film, which is a big challege.

I feel this film will be the culmination of what started back in 2006 when Craig debuted in the role. Bond has gone from heartbroken rookie agent to the iconic character that's been on the screen for 50 years. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. No, the very first Bond film. I like Craig as Bond, I like this cast, and I think Mendes is an appropriate director for this kind of more human based James Bond. Mendes' films deal with complex male characters and hopefully he'll get a chance to further develop Craig's Bond in this film. Mendes also said he wants to have the drama and action sequences to exist side by side instead of the action drowning the human elements of the film. Like Marc Forster, the director of Quantum of Solace, Mendes isn't primarily an action director. I didn't have a huge problem with Quantum of Solace's action  but hopefully after the criticisms that film recieved for the frantic editing of its action scenes, as well as the criticisms directed towards Christopher Nolan's action scenes, Mendes will carefully construct the action so it's clearer what is happening on screen.

James Bond returns in 2012. I think this will be a good one.   

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