James Bond has always been so cool. I remember as a child, maybe when I was 8 or 9? My parents got a cheap second-hand TV, so they put it in my bedroom. I didn’t sleep well when I was young, so if I was sufficiently bored during the summer months, I would watch TV late into the night. Some station, I think TBS, did a James Bond marathon for a week, like three movies a night. I saw most of the Bond films in that time period.
Moonraker, Goldfinger, The Man With the Golden Gun, You Only Live Twice, Live and Let Die, License to Kill…
So yeah, I was always a fan, each for different reasons. I like Roger Moore for the camp. I like Connery for the cold, sexy Conneryness. I like Timothy Dalton’s… I like Timothy Dalton. Pierce Brosnan was alright. I enjoyed Goldeneye but didn’t care much for the others. And now we have Daniel Craig.
I remember the headlines, “First Blond Bond Cast!” and then, “Best Bond Ever!” when Casino Royale came out. It is probably my favorite Bond film, all things considered, which I will consider, because–
Skyfall was terrible. No matter how many people say it was great, that it was the best Bond film of all time, that doesn’t make it the best. That’s all anecdotal subjective evidence. It is still a crap movie. Allow me to go on.
Rampant Sexism. Misogyny. Inconsistent Characters. More Sexism. Idiotic Plot (most Bond films are idiotic, but in the context of the Craig films, this one was a disaster). Totally Whitewashed. Unfulfilled Story Arcs. 20 minute finale that should have been scrapped.
It had good things too. One of two car chase scenes that I have ever enjoyed watching. The most brilliant blue backlit fight scene self-contained in one beautiful shot. The best cinematography of any Bond film (excluding the last twenty minutes.). The only Bond film to have character development. The best suspense of any Bond film (What? A spy being quiet and sneaky? How quaint!).
Let’s just start from the beginning. Spoiler alert. I’m picking this shit apart. I’m also going to swear a lot. I’m mighty pissed.
The movie opens with some fucktard putting all of the MI6 agents’ names on a single hard drive and traipsing off with it to Turkey. Yeah, nothing could go wrong with tha–are you fucking kidding me?! Who put that uber-sensitive classified info on a laptop and thought it was a good idea? Who thought it would be okay to send to fucking TURKEY?
And then Bond is all like, “Saving this bleeding agent is more important than that hard drive.” Since when is Bond sympathetic to dying people? Never. He spends the rest of the movie not giving a shit about injured or dying people, but for some reason, we establish right at the get go that he has a heart of gold.
So there’s an awesome chase scene where Bond and this unnamed agent (We find out she’s called Eve) are going after some dude with a shit-ton of bullets and this hard drive. It’s clear that they’re both willing to do whatever it takes to get the drive back. The girl is awesome driving the Range Rover around. Bond gets shot and shrugs it off. Starts punching the guy for shooting him. They end up on a bridge, they are out of time, Eve is ordered to take the shot, and she misses. Hits Bond.
Understandable. It wasn’t a clean shot. The train was moving and the bad guy was thrashing about. She hits her comrade instead of the bad guy and THEN SITS THERE IN DISBELIEF INSTEAD OF SHOOTING AT THE BAD GUY AGAIN WITH HER SEMI-AUTOMATIC M-4 RIFLE.
This is the most forgivable of Skyfall’s writing errors. Eve is on her first field mission (why they sent a virgin on such an important mission is stupid.) and she shoots the legendary James Bond. I’d probably choke and forget the bad guy too. But she had like ten seconds to aim and fire again. This is kinda sexist, but the least sexist thing that happens in the film.
ALSO, we find out later in the film that Bond was listening to M give Eve the kill order. All he had to do was duck. Bad guy gets shot, Bond lives, movie is over in 10 minutes and I go home happier than what ended up actually happening.
Okay, so then the bad guy, the real bad guy, the uber-shadow man–he magihacks the MI6 building and does some computer magic that isn’t actually possible in the real world and M’s office blows up. This kind of baloney is water on a duck’s back. I don’t mind it.
Except that the bad guy hacked into MI6. Why did he need to steal the hard drive with the agents’ names if he could have done it remotely? If one is to make computer hacking into a magic spell, you need to be consistent about it. There was no motivation to steal the hard drive. The entire foundation of the movie is flawed on two counts now, but let’s move on.
Bond is depressed. He somehow lived. We never once see the bullet hole that Eve made. He comments on it, but we never see the scar. Instead, we are treated to an hour of scar tissue that came from some random asshole and his Glock 18.
When MI6 blows up, Bond decides that he loves… the crown? M? Being an agent? We never find out. He goes back to London and has to be recertified as a field operative. We get a montage of him kicking ass at everything except shooting a gun. Then he digs fragments of depleted uranium bullet out of his shoulder, like a badass. This serves as a clever way for the story to move forward–oh wait, no, it adds nothing to the story. Bond is still a bad shot when he’s concentrating and he groans and touches his shoulder for the rest of the movie.
We find out that he failed to pass any of his tests, not just the firearms test (which was a joke, by the way. Allowing him to walk toward the target and shooting one-handed? Please.), and he really shouldn’t be in the field, but that’s okay cause he’s Bond and he’ll prevail. I was fine with that. Faith in the old dog theme.
And this is the part of the movie where the major themes come out. When should people move on? When should we stick by the old ways? When should we adapt to new threats? When is enough enough? When do we throw in the towel, despite what we want, in order to keep our friends safe? M is being forced to retire, though she refuses. Bond is reaching his limits, yet he can’t give it up. They have this interesting interplay.
Bond goes to Shanghai, stalks the guy who shot him. It’s stealthy and cool. I loved it. The fight scene is… I need a good word. It’s more than brilliant and fantastic. It put me on the edge of my seat. It was magnificent.
Bond finds a chip that leads him to a casino in Macau. Weird little plot device, when you think about it, but, as I said, water off a duck’s back.
In Macau, Bond meets this stunning vixen. She’s cool and confident and dangerous. They chat over drinks. Then Bond dissects her psyche, revealing that she is a victim, trying to be strong. She needs to be rescued. He promises to save her.
And then he… does the creepiest Bond thing of all time. He sneaks up on her in the shower.
There was NO invitation for that in their previous meeting. Bond merely found out that she was a frightened victim of a lifetime of abuse… and then he took advantage of that! For fuck’s sake, she was trembling when he came up behind her in the shower. Some might read that as sexual excitement, but… that could easily have been her fear of, I dunno, sexual assault from a complete stranger in her goddamn shower. Did he know she wouldn’t cry out at his approach and just figured he’d assuage her fears with the power of his cock?
And then she died. For no reason. And Bond didn’t care.
I mean, she has a lifetime of being afraid of this bad guy. He’s controlled her and her clan, from what I gathered, for most of her life. She is pants-shittingly afraid of him. And the whole shotglass on her head thing was terrifying. But killing her? If he took so much pleasure in psychological torture, why would he mercy-kill her?
It’s just more acceptable violence against women who can’t take care of themselves and need strong, chiseled white men to take care of them. There was no reason to care about her plight, since she only got ten minutes of screen time, and she just ends up dying and never being mentioned again.
Bad guy is captured. Genius Q hacks into his computer while being connected to the MI6 network, cause he’s actually an idiot. Bond looks at a bunch of hexadecimal code and makes magic happen (ugh). The bad guy escapes and we get an interesting suspenseful chase scene. Then we realize that Silva, the bad guy, is going to kill M. The suspense builds very well. He gets to the courthouse and shoots it up and Mallory, the douche from before, turns into a badass and gets shot. Voldemort shrugs that shit off, yo. Not even kidding. It was a great moment. We see Eve doing something competent again. Good on them for not making her a total fuckup.
Then Bond takes M to Skyfall. The name of his family home in the middle of nowhere? I guess. I wish they would have turned the camera around at some point cause there had to be a town nearby. There was a church and this mansion. Weird, but okay. Some derelict house that Bond used to live in.
Oh, by the way, his full legal name is James Bond. I guess MI6 just tracks down orphans with that name and trains them into equivalent badasses to fill the 007 spot on their agent list. Or maybe little Daniel Craig Bond decides that since he has the same name as Sean Connery Bond that he should grow up and get that job. Whatever. Stupid.
Keep in mind, I loved this movie until M gets shot. I shrugged off all of the other problems until this bullshit happened.
So Silva and his private army invade the orphanage and get their asses kicked by Home Alone traps. There was so much wrong with this though that I slowly started second-guessing the quality of the film. Bond’s car guns do some magic bullet shit with their stationary barrels. The shotgun shells in the floorboards… go ahead and try that kids. You’ll be disappointed. Shotgun shells are not sticks of dynamite, as Sam Mendes (the director) would have you believe. Also, putting shotgun shells in baggies with bullets would not make pipe bombs. A shotgun shell cannot detonate a rifle round without adequate pressure–something a plastic bag cannot provide.
And then the helicopter crashes into the building and the ancient bricks turn out to have been laced with dynamite the entire time. It blows up and Bond is inexplicably trapped in the escape tunnel, science be damned.
Then Bond spends an hour under freezing water and is like, no big deal.
Then Silva dies a very appropriate death by knife. I liked that.
But M dying? By a bullet wound to the side? Did you guys even bother researching this shit after hammering out the rough draft of the script? Gut wounds take hours–DAYS–to kill. And killing M was… I’m out of words for how stupid it was. It added nothing to the plot, nothing to the movie’s themes. It’s like Mendes got scared that he actually created a strong female lead and decided to kill her off before people realized that women can be capable too. We wouldn’t want them rising up to be like, managers and bosses and upstanding members of society or anything. Only men can do that. So Voldemort takes over MI6, cause it’s really a man’s job, and Eve decides that field work isn’t for her, despite being pretty good at it, and she decides to become a fucking secretary.
The only non-white person in the movie decides that their personal worth is best invested in serving others. That’s right everyone, women and them ethnics are only good at helping the white men save the world when they aren’t getting in the way or needing to be saved.
This movie wasn’t good. Just because it had great choreography and cinematography doesn’t make it a good film. The plot is shit, the characters are shit, and the way it treats women is a joke. I mean, I can forgive the older films for being sexist, it was a product of the times, but the new films don’t have to subscribe to those old women-hating themes any more. It is so damn depressing to get excited for a movie like this and see it botch what could have been good.
Wouldn’t we have sympathized more with the tortured vixen if she lived and had to constantly look over her shoulder in case Silva came for her? Wouldn’t we have cheered her on if she could overcome that fear?
Wouldn’t we have loved Eve for choosing the hard life, being capable and determined to chase terrorists despite the risks and danger? Would we have thought less of her for taking up responsibilities that Bond is tasked with? (No, we wouldn’t.)
And M… I mean, the three main characters each represented three paths of aging. Silva went crazy and died because he couldn’t handle his life. Bond persevered and decided to keep up his field agent work, overcoming his obstacles. M persevered and decided to keep up her job and then she died because… well, any answer to that points back to the sexism. She SHOULD have retired. That way you’d have one crazy dead guy, and two old dogs who both made conscious decisions on the path of their remaining lives. One chooses to stick it out and one chooses to let someone else take the reigns. It’s a very full-circle zen kind of ending that would have been much more effective.
But fuck that shit. Women are terrible at deciding things, in the Bond world, so we’ll just kill her off and replace her with a man.
In conclusion: Nobody seems to put any stock into these godawful plot and character problems, praising the movie on it’s camera work and action fun. How about we stop caring so much about exciting movies (which have been perfected to a science) and start caring more about movies that have good writing and sympathetic characters? I mean, the ability to make a movie exciting will always be available, so if we start writing some good movies then we can tack on the action without difficulty.