Sunday, 11 November 2012

50 years of Jame Bond and Skyfall

There has been some good television and one good film in that I went to see the new James Bond Skyfall in this year celebrating fifty years of the films all of which are available on Sky!


I have experienced all the bond film, the majority in Theatre over those fifty years commencing in 1962 with Dr No when I was 23, followed by From Russia with Love in 1963, Goldfinger in 1964 and Thunderball 1965 and then  in 1967 when  Connery appeared to end his role as Bond in You only live Twice. George Lasenby was only OK in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to be followed by Shaun Again in Diamonds are Forever in 1971, Live and Let Die in 1973 and the Man with the Golden Gun 1974 when the mantle was taken over by the avuncular tongue in cheek Roger Moore who I regarded as along with Lasenby and Dalton as not a success. Moore appeared in The Spy who loved me 77 Moonraker 79, For Your Eyes Only, 81 Octopussy 83 and a view to kill in 85.


The series had become a formula which a great action opening, sometimes which appear to have little relation to the rest of the film, a good and sometimes  great song. gimmick devices some which were ground breaking, beautiful women some who were killed, some were part of the villainy and action sequences with thrills and spills. There are those like me who feel the series reached the bottom with Timothy Dalton’s The Living Daylights in 87 and Licence to kill two years later.


I thought Pierce Brosnan saved the series after a break with Golden Eye 95 Tomorrow never Dies 97. The World is not Enough 99 Die Another Day 2002, and Casino Royale in 2006.  I was   uncertain about Quantum of Solace in 2008 with Daniel Craig but very satisfied with his role and performance in Skyfall which like Dr Who entered a new reality phase appropriate for the era.


The plot of SkyFall is not complicated, Bond is sent to Turkey to recover a computer hard drive which amazingly contains a list of British agents placed undercover in organisations and countries. I say amazingly but given some recent national of losses of data and bank date failures it is not as incredible as my first response.  He is assisted by a female field agent who at a crucial moment in the opening sequence is ordered to shoot the villain as he wrestles with Bond   on top of a train which is about to go under a tunnel and where she will not be able to follow in her vehicle. She misses and shoots Bond instead who falls into water and is believed drowned with M played by Dame Judy Dench writing his obituary.


Bond survives, naturally, as goes on one of his disappearances with win women and song and is involved in a dangerous drink and gamble with a scorpion in his write reminding of that similar Russian roulette episode in a USA film about the Vietnam War. It is late at night when he is drinking alone in the same beachside bar that he watches the news and sees the report of a bomb explosion within the famous MI6 building on the banks of the Thames in London.


Previously the person who had stolen the info or to whom the info had been passed had managed to get into the MI6 computer system and post the names of the first five agents saying that he would post more. Several of these agents were killed before they could be removed from their undercover locations.


M is at a meeting with Chairman of the National Security Committee Ralph Fiennes (Mallory) when she is summoned back to HQ only to be stopped before the explosion.


The deaths of six agents prompts Bond to reappear at her home and request reinstatement which is agreed subject to completion of successful physical and mental assessment, He fails badly in all respects and walks out of the psychological testing when Skyfall is mentioned, However M fixes the result so he  is reinstated and sent to Shanghai with the agent who shot him Eve ( who we only later  learn is called Moneypenny suggesting the  daughter of unmarried Miss Moneypenny of the original books and film series.... (His daughter???!!!!!)).


They are following a lead which has identified the man with whom he fought on top of the train after a great chase through a city. He is followed to the top of a building where he shoots someone in a building across the way and when Bonds attempts to engage and find out the location of the missing info and who is behind the outrages, the man falls to his death after a struggle. After searching the assassin’s gun case he finds a gambling chip for a Casino which he attends with Moneypenny to find it brings him a case with several million pounds and contact with an alluring eastern woman Sévérine who appears to be charge. However he works out from a   mark on wrist that she was taken as an adolescent to be used in the sex trade and is therefore only a junior, expendable as it transpires.


Bond joins her on a boat heading for the island where her boss is located and which turns out to be a disused factory where the boss Raoul Silva played by Javier Bardem has created his communication password and security systems cracking monster computer system. He executes Sévérine for having slept with Bond and bringing him to the island. Bond who had been captured not only breaks free but with the help of the UK airborne forces but captures and returns Siva to the UK where he is held in a temporary secure MI6  in one of the many underground buildings related to World War 2.


This brings us to what is the third main part of the film when Silva escapes and makes his way in disguise to the Houses of Parliament where M is facing a hard grilling before a Committee about the effectiveness and methods of the service and whether she should stand down. There is a great shoot out in which Fiennes distinguishes himself and rescues M while Bond gives chase among the tunnels and Underground lines before  the man escapes.


Bond and M decides that the best thing to do is to use her as bait as it is evident that the purpose of all that Silva has done has been to kill M. Bond chooses to take her to the isolated family seat in Scotland which he has not visited since his parents died when he was a young boy. They are met by the former gamekeeper and watchman played by Albert Finney in heavy make up and the trio plan a defence for the expected arrival of Silva.


He does not disappoint with two contingents of mercenaries the first on the ground and the second airborne.  There is much shooting and huge explosions with almost all the mercenaries killed.  Finney escapes with M to an equally isolated church followed by Bond who has another life threatening exchange.


Silva and M die.


During the film it emerged that Silva was not just a first rate former agent who had gone over to the other side, so to speak but what the son of M who she had ordered terminated after he had gone rogue and endangered the rest of the service. The film ends with Eve taking up the former role of Moneypenny and Fiennes becoming the new M.


The film is the most serious and darker of the Bonds and with the absence of any serious love/sex interest on the part of Bond. There is a great Theme song written and sung by Adele and all in all a good two hours worth. I could have done without the over long adverts which seemed to go on for over half an hour

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