It has been 50 years since Dr No introduced us to James Bond. Since then, Ian Fleming’s master spy has been portrayed by six actors in 23 films. Skyfall, the most recent entry in the 007 cannon, has a lot to live up to, as does the current Bond actor, Daniel Craig. After the lukewarm reception of Quantum of Solace, Skyfall is a make or break moment –not just for Craig but for the future of the entire franchise.
The character of James Bond has always existed just beyond the plain of reality. He’s a man who jumps out of helicopter, wins a mid air fistfight, and lands in the backyard of a beautiful woman, never breaking a sweat and without a single hair out of place.
Craig’s Bond is different. He gets beaten; he gets bruised; most importantly, he bleeds. He lacks the lighter side of the Roger Moore era. He is a killer, cold and calculating.
This time around, we see Bond with scars and all. He is visibly and mentally shaken; he is almost human.
Skyfall is about resurrection. The world has changed. The spy game is no longer about one nation attempting to learn the actions of another. The enemies of a nation are nameless, faceless, and never do their dirty work in person.
Is espionage even relevant in the information age? Does England need James Bond?
Choosing a woman to play the character of M was a big deal in 1995. Dame Judi Dench was a fantastic choice for the role of Bond’s boss. She has been the perfect foil to the Bonds of both Brosnan and Craig. In fact, she was the only thing carried over into the reboot series.
The problem for Dench’s M during the Brosnan era was that there was nothing for her to do. What was the point of showcasing an empowered woman if she spent each film sidelined or kidnapped?
In Skyfall, we see M in all of her glory. Her leadership is on display and her back and forth with Bond provides many of the lighter moments in the film.
On the surface, the movie seeks to destroy the past. Many treasured relics from the bygone era are brought onscreen just long enough for us to wave goodbye. Several are reborn into this reality, most notably the character of Q. The meeting between Bond and the new quartermaster is dripping with homage and reverence for the past, while at the same time celebrating the new.
Skyfall brings to a close your father’s James Bond. In many ways, it cleans out the closet. It takes the dusty keepsakes out one last time, dwells for just a second, then packs them away for good. What we are left with is a new Bond for a new world. A Bond that has confronted his own demons, as well as those of England, and emerged to defend Queen and Country no matter what.