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I used to rent Bond movies on Saturdays. It probably started with Goldeneye because I couldn’t get over how much fun I’d just had. Famke Janssen sexy gun shooting! Hawaiian shirts in tropical places! Aston Martin versus bikes! Pretty much everything a kid needs to throw that shit in the VCR all over again. So I slowly worked my way through all the Bond movies, watching them all twice–Twice, Dad! Go rent it again!–until I finally understood the subtleties of things like “Pussy Galore” or “being Scottish.”

So of course I wanted to see Skyfall, the 50th Anniversary Bond, if at least just once. It’s this new James Bond who’s edgy and different and blond and surrounded by a lot of the same characters as always and also still named James Bond. They’ve made a lot of really solid decisions, though. There seems to be a conscious effort to update for the Jason Bourne set. Indeed, Q’s role is to hand out a gun, a radio tracker, and advice about how the kids are usin’ the ‘puters these days, you goddamned relic.

And that’s where they came off a little heavy-handed. This is the new Bond in a new era fighting new adversaries, despite owning a murder rate on par with Pol Pot and a body that’s somehow actually 50, even though this is supposed to be the prequel. It seems to be the cap on a prequel trilogy where we get things back that made the old Bond Bond: a male M and a Moneypenny, and nary a question of loyalty. The work of all three new Bond movies only worked to embed us back in the old story arc and reveal that the young rogue we come to love in the next 20 movies is confusingly old, weathered, and supposedly now not just mourning his parents (still, forever) but also the lady M.

Which makes me wonder: How much of Skyfall is a rewards-based system where the joys come from catching references? Knowing why he’d reveal the Aston? Who Moneypenny even is? Is Javier Bardem just a smart Jaws? Because the rewards we usually see involve following all the clues just as closely as Bond (hot babes) until he unravels the scheme (hot babes’ clothing) just in time to save the entire world. But this movie’s villain’s evil plan, spawned by revenge, is to get agents killed until he can kill M. Which one of his henchmen does. Yep, not only does Bond not stop him but the man doesn’t even achieve his fiendish plot on his own.

So what is this brave new era of Bond we’re stepping into? Obviously, the references to the progression of social media and secrecy will continue to be a theme, but hopefully the idea that James is close to retirement will slowly fade to the background as he carries on with his job. In fact, I would prefer an older Bond; who really trusts the new recruits, freshly minted with minor computer skills in Langley, to travel around the world while foiling conspiracy theories that took years to put into place? I want the haggard old guy who looks like he ran to every meeting he’s ever had while carrying two Heckler & Koch MP5s and a scotch. That’s the guy I ask, “Hey, do me a favor and take out a multinational terrorist cell only using a helicopter and this unreasonably gorgeous woman.”

Also, who really gives a crap if he’s had some parent issues? I think completely leveling his childhood home should be reason enough to let that be just another one of the little Bond details, like how Bond got married once, that we let add to his character instead of demanding it drag him down.

But enough of that noise, I have a Bond movie to go see again.

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One Comment

  1. Saw it last night; liked it and this review much. Later…


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