Actor: Daniel Craig
US Release Date: 9 November 2012
US gross, $304 million
Worldwide gross, $1108 million
Locations: Istanbul, Shanghai, Scotland, London, and Pinewood Studios
Source for above info: " the " Bond Official Site.
Just as in the early 90s when Bond was in suspended animation because of the financial troubles at the MGM Studio (that makes the Bond movies), again history repeated itself. After the release of Quantum of Solace , there was a 4 year period when again MGM fell into financial troubles and Bond went to sleep. So after 4 years of sleep, Bond walks in to a fantastic framed shot in a bright doorway. He is assisted by a field agent Eve (last name not known) in Turkey where they rehash a Macguffin from Mission Impossible about a hard drive with a list of all secret agents who are undercover in terrorist organizations. This is followed by a long chase through the crowded Turkish bazaar where Bond chases the assassin Patrice on foot, in car, on a motorcycle, and finally on a train. I guess they were a bit far away from Istanbul Ataturk Airport otherwise Bond would have continued the chase on a plane too. During the boys with toys destruction, the Director Sam Mendes (first Oscar winning director to helm a 007 flick) inserts a scene to remind the viewers that we are seeing a Bond movie and not Citizen Kane. Bond uses a Caterpillar excavator (while still on the train) to tear open the roof of a passenger train, then runs up the arm of the excavator and jumps into the running train, and then adjusts his cufflinks. Yes, he is not exactly waving the British Union Jack while doing this, but this stunt is as James Bond 007 as it gets. Bond gets into a fistfight with Patrice on the top of the train and then M orders Eve (Naomie Harris), to take the bloody shot at Patrice. Eve takes the shot and ends up shooting Jimmy who falls down the bridge into the water and into the titles of Skyfall, the movie that marks 50 years of Bond.
Adele (Grammy award winner born with a GoldenVoice) sings the standard Bond song (that won the Oscar for Best Song) that mentions the title many times so that you are sure that you are watching the right film. And for a change the song is good, compared to the Worst Bond Song Ever in Quantum of Solace . The title sequence has Chinese dragons, gravestones, a mansion, and all sort of creepy images that almost give the key images in the movie away. Again as in the Daniel Craig era, the titles have a lot of Daniel Craig in it, in color, Technicolor, Monochrome, duo chrome, and other combinations till we end up with a close shot of Danielӳ eye and the song ends and the movie proper starts.
Hurt that M would order to take the shot with him in the harm's way (well Bond heard that, and that's what happens when you have agents with good hearing and with earpieces that have good reception), Bond recuperates and sulks away at a secluded beach location He spends his time drinking tequila shots with scorpions on his hand and a hottie in his bed (he is Bond after all). In the meantime, the movie reminds us of the Macguffin. the hard drive that was lost in this chaos, and now in the hands of the terrorists. M gets a royal treatment from Intelligence and Security Committee Chairman, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes, in a great performance as usual) about the snafu. With broad hints at her retirement Mallory manages to piss M off, and comes off a typical stiff lipped bureaucrat.
While returning to office at MI6, M is stopped at the bridge and gets to see a CGI explosion in her own MI6 Building from afar that ends up killing a few MI6 officials, showing that the dung has really hit the fan. Later in the movie, M
loses it so much that she utters the first F word in the whole series. Have no fear, Bond is here. Seeing the news of his office blown to smithereens forces Bond from his self imposed exile and he returns back to M's house. As the
film-makers want to celebrate the 50 years of Bond they try to revisit the old Bond films with a few scenes or widgets from the past. The scene of Bondӳ re-entry into Mӳ life is similar to the one in
where Bond breaks
into M's home.
James Bond: 007 reporting for duty.
M: Where the hell have you been?
James Bond: Enjoying death.
After this welcome, M puts Bond to the test literally and makes him take his physicals to prove that his is field worthy. After a lot of huffing and puffing in the gym while the plot details are explained to Bond (without the Rocky theme
at the background), he realizes that he is a spent force now and can't even hit a target from close range. Bond pulls out (yes, literally) some shrapnel from his shoulder wound and the bullet helps identify Patrice (yes, like The man
with the golden gun). Surprisingly for Bond, he passes the physicals (yes, like The world is not enough, but without any hanky panky on his side this time), due to some tinkering of the records by M who still believes that even
though he has a beard 007 is the best bet that mankind has.
Before Bond heads for his mission, he is sent to the British National Gallery, where he forgets that he has a mission and hence spends time staring at a painting of a ship called The Fighting Temeraire. If we had Brosnan's Bond, here, then Bond would have ogled at hottie instead of looking at the portrait, and here we see a geek in glasses (Ben Wishaw) taking Bondӳ side. As a side note, the ship in the portrait remained in service until 1838 when she was decommissioned and towed from Sheerness to Rotherhithe to be broken up. The director is going meta here to show whatӳ happening to M here. Deep stuff, unlike a Bond film, but quite welcome. That is what you get when you pay an Oscar winner to direct a Bond film.
Geek: It always makes me feel a little melancholy. A grand old warship, being ignominiously hauled away for scrap. Inevitability of time, don't you think? What do you see?
Bond: A bloody big ship.
Geek: I'm your new quartermaster.
Bond: You must be joking.
Q: I will hazard I can do more damage on my laptop, sitting in my pyjamas before my first cup of Earl Grey, than you can do in a year in the field.
After that "you must be joking" reference to
, Q hands over the gadgets. And this time, they are a palm signature recognizing gun (leftover from
License to Kill
) and a radio. Yes, really.
James Bond: A radio and a gun. Not exactly Christmas, is it?
Q: You weren't expecting an exploding pen, were you?
Bond is sent to Shanghai where according to the new formula he gets to swim in his blue swimming trunks (this one is for the ladies). After this requisite 007 Blue Trunks (copyright) shot, we have a fantastic sequence in a Shanghai tower that shows why Roger Deakins (the cinematographer for this move) has received nine nominations for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in the past. This scene would have been called a classic in any movie and surely is one in the Bond series. With a floating neon jellyfish for company, Bond battles with Patrice and puts that license to kill to use when Patrice plummets to his death. Bond becomes Holmes, Sherlock Holmes and traces a gaming chip in Patrice's box to a Macau casino. It is the casino that makes Bond realize that it is time to get back into the normal uniform and hence after a close shave with Eve, he gets back into a standard issue secret agent attire aka Tom Ford suit. Again Deakins and Mendes wow us with a shot of Bond entering the dragon's mouth. Here Bond gets to meet the hottie number 2 of the film Severine (Bernice Marlohe) whom Bond saw earlier during the fight with Patrice. As Bond is now clean shaven and wearing the irresistible mojo she falls for him and warns him that he is about to be killed by three henchmen of her mysterious employer. Shades of Andrea Anders in The man with the golden gun . Bond claims 4 million euros in lieu of the gambling chip and then has a proper pow wow with the three henchmen. Again with a nod to Roger Moore's raised eyebrow, we have a sequence similar to Live and Let die with Komodo dragons (no animals or stuntmen were hurt during the shoot) instead of crocodiles. This humour that was sorely missing from Quantum of Solace is quite welcome here.
After a proper shower with Severine on her yacht, Bond heads to the mysterious island of Scaramanga. Wrong villain name. In the island we get to finally meet the villain of the piece Silva (Javier Bardem). Javier is an acclaimed actor
with a Oscar win for his chilling portrayal in No country for old men. His entry in this movie is a long single take where he goes into a monologue like a full blown classic Bond villain and gives a wonderful story of his grandmother, her
island and her rats, and gives the moral of the story that M is for Mother, and Bond and Silva are the two rats left. Seems like they had Tarantino guest write the dialogue over here.
Silva: Just look at you. Chasing spies. England. MI6. She sent you after me knowing you're not ready, knowing you would likely die. Mommy was very bad. The two survivors. This is what she made us.
And in a Bond series first, we have a villain who flirts with Bond and has a target practice match with Bond to see who gets to be on top. Sticking to Bond formula, Severine becomes the sacrificial lamb and then Bond pulls off some
slick moves to haul Silva back to London for inquiry by M.
Here we get another set of cool dialogue between M and Silva (Dench and Javier showing why they have an Oscar statue in their homes) and in a nod to
, we get the villain's back-story and physical disability (nod to Ian
Fleming) and how he was made into the monster that he has become by M. And hence in this movie, instead of a world domination plan, Silva's plan is simply to destroy M.
In a sequence reminiscent of The Dark Knight, we have a great escape by Silva while M is facing a public inquiry on the recent snafu under her watch. After a bit of dressing down by the minister, M retorts with a piece of poetry by Tennyson's Ulysses.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
The last time we heard any sort of poetry in a Bond film was Sean Connery and his "Underneath the mango tree" in Dr. No. How the times have changed in the 50 years!
Silva gate crashes the hearing, Bond runs in to save the day and Mallory gets to show that he is battle ready too.
Tired of all the running around, Bond decides to take matters in his own safe hands and hauls M away from London. Here we get to see the iconic Aston Martin DB5 from
(yes, the same BMT 216A) and we rush to Bond's
childhood home Skyfall (yes, thats what the title is about) with a smart quip about the ejector seat to M.
Once at Skyfall, 007 goes Home Alone 4 and booby traps the whole place. With assistance from Q, Tanner, and Mallory they succeed in luring Silva to Skyfall for the final battle. In a twist to the Bond formula, in the finale the villain comes to Bondӳ lair and Bond gets to press the self destruct on his own hideout. Bond gets to stop Silva but at a huge loss as M succumbs to the bullet wound during the Home Alone invasion, ending the 7 film marvelous streak of Dame Judi Dench.
Back in London, Bond spends a few moments looking over London like Batman (M is Alfred?) looks over Gotham. His solitude is disturbed by Eve (last name Moneypenny) who hands over M's paperweight that is in the shape of a Bulldog with a Union Jack (a real paperweight created by Royal Doulton, an English company producing tableware and collectables since 1815).
Finally as a nod to the hat throwing days of Sean Connery we see Bond enter M's office with Moneypenny at the table welcoming him.
One curious note: M portrayed by Bernard Lee and Robert Brown during the good old days used to be a good avuncular type boss, and Judi Dench's M was the maternal type. Now we need to see what form Ralph Fiennes's M takes.
Bond is back and we can't wait to save the world again with M, Moneypenny, and Q all ready to support him.
M: Ready to get back to work?
James Bond: With pleasure.
Well Mr. Bond, the pleasure was all mine! Thanks for the 50 years and looking forward for the next 50.
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