Guest Post: Skyfall (2012)

For fifty years now, 007 has entertained us with his antics, action and not just a little bit of skirt-wrangling. Skyfall sees Daniel Craig take on the role of Bond for the third time and promises to deliver another hefty dose of explosions, breath-taking locations, strong Bond-trademarked musical scores, suspense and crazy villains. All the reasons we keep coming back for more!

But did the much anticipated (and much delayed) Bond number 23 live up to my high expectations? Read on to find out.

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Now There’s A Mouthful (2002)

Captured by the North Koreans after his secret identity is betrayed by a member of MI6, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is tortured for fourteen months for his part in the death of Colonel Tan-Sun Moon (Will Yun Lee). Freed only when the British Government trades him for Moon’s assistant Zao (Rick Yun) in a prisoner exchange, Bond finds his 007 status suspended by M (Judi Dench) and is forced to flee in order to complete his original mission and prove his innocence in the process. With the help of NSA agent Giacinta ‘Jinx’ Johnson (Halle Berry), he investigates British billionaire Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens) after finding his insignia on an item owned by Zao. Following Graves to a demonstration of his Icarus technology in Iceland, Bond uncovers the truth about his capture in North Korea. Read more of this post

Welcome to my nuclear family (1999)

When the assassination of Sir Robert King (David Calder) raises concerns about the safety of his daughter Elektra (Sophie Marceau), who was previously held hostage for ransom by an ex-KGB agent called Bernard (Robert Carlyle), family acquaintance M (Judi Dench) dispatches her best man to protect the heiress. Arriving in Azerbaijan, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is able to save her from an anonymous hit squad who attack during a tour of the King pipeline. Seeking answers from Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane), Bond encounters nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) at a Russian base in Kazakhstan. Unable to stop Bernard from stealing a half-quantity of weapons-grade plutonium, they fake their own deaths in order to investigate the terrorist’s plot. Meanwhile, M is kidnapped as Bernard’s true motivations are eventually revealed. Read more of this post

Casino Royale (2006)

Following Die Another Day‘s misjudged introduction of the invisible car – the 007 equivalent of bat nipples – it was clear to most that Bond was in need of an overhaul. Deciding to go darker – because, come on, that’s what everyone was doing in 2006 – in an attempt to hijack the Jason Bourne following, the producer’s dropped Pierce Brosnan’s personality in favour of Daniel Craig’s swimming trunks and went back to basics with Casino Royale – the source novel previously adapted for television out of EON productions recognised canon.

Having foiled Le Chiffre’s plans to destroy a prototype airliner, causing the banker a considerable loss, Jason Bourne James Bond (Craig) is ordered to Montenegro where he is to re-engage Le Chifre (Mads Mikkelsen) in a poker match. Desperate to recoup the money he needs to appease his machete-wielding clients, our resident baddie soon resorts to a series of unsuccessful murder attempts to try and break up the hours and hours of ass-crampingly dull poker. More poker. More poker. Casino Royale is eventually given a third act shot of adrenaline as Bond wins the poker tournament and takes Le Chiffre’s vendetta, and his latest love-interest (Eva Green), to Venice.

Treading the fine line between dark and Dark Knight, delivering a movie with just enough humour and humanity to offset the new Bond’s relative lack of character, the film is nevertheless bogged down with a disappointingly disengaging plot. Lagging notably in the middle while Bond plays poker and the supporting cast explain poker, a few smug one liners pepper the ‘action’ as if to remind audiences that they are in fact watching a 007 movie. Even I, who would take Mr. Freeze’s puns over Christian Bale’s growl any day, found myself warming to the franchise’s new direction by movie’s end, sufficiently entertained during the movie’s final act to forgive the shuffling and glancing that came before.

Although resolutely reimagined, Casino Royale is still infused with a number of the franchise’s trademark tropes. Judi Dench returns as M to steal scenes and deliver the movie’s most memorable lines – just at home with the new serious tone as she was with the campier elements of the series’ predecessors – providing a much needed through-line for audiences. The villain is suitable snarley and the Bond girl sultry, retaining enough conventions to – after considerable scrutiny – distinguish this from a decidedly less by-the-numbers Bourne movie.

Competently acted and pleasingly visceral – ropes have never been so evil – Casino Royale successfully regenerates Bond for a post-9/11 age. The tone established and the poker game mercifully over, the scene is set for a sequel to show the new 007 in a more flatteringly entertaining light.