Two very potent men love the same woman, struggling to place if she is mother or bitch, and if she should protect them or if they should get into bed with her. One decides to save her, and the other to destroy her. When genuinely intense academy winner, Judi Dench plays the vulnerable matriarch of Britain’s external intelligence agency, and inimitable academy winner Javier Bardem plays her ex-protege, and now deeply deeply hurt nemesis, the sexual tension is palpable. In case I forgot to mention, the third character is Bond…… James Bond. And his time it is very very personal. On last check, Skyfall is the biggest James Bond movie ever released.
It’s been two weeks since I hit the IMAX experience of Commander James Bond’s golden jubilee circus, but the dark, deep impact of Skyfall has not worn thin. Now I have a Sam Mendes movie which I genuinely like. With Bond23, the franchise takes a turn for the intense and the dark, and perhaps reinvents James Bond. One could argue that the franchise did that with Casino Royale, after the soulless years of Pierce Brosnan flicks. When Daniel Craig turned to the bartender who asked him whether he liked his martini shaken or stirred, and said “…do I look like I give a damn”, the re-discovery had begun. The franchise faltered with the immensely forgettable “Quantum of Solace”, but is back in the game, vitalized and pumping with Skyfall. Bond23 is arguably the best James Bond movie I’ve seen, and Adele’s opening song is a classic!
Story: In a world where computer networks control everything, everything can be controlled by controlling computer networks. Raoul Silva is an ex-MI6 agent, hacker, terrorist, and a paid mercenary. But deep down he is a deeply hurt man, burned physically by hydrogen cyanide, and emotionally by M’s betrayal, and is now in his own words “survived” to avenge his betrayal. Silva will kill M. But not under the watch of James Bond. There are parallel themes of United Kingdom’s decay, the need for espionage, and in spite of computer networks the occasional need for pulling a trigger. But the central theme of the movie is revenge, love, and the story of three people put there by chance. There is no Bond girl in the movie, as Guardian rightly put it, because M is the Bond girl this time.
1. Pierce Brosnan once said he used wince while delivering some of Bond’s lines. That’s a shame. But then Brosnan acted in stupid Bond movies. The franchise decided to get some of the best script writers, and one of the best living directors to make Bond23. When you handle a franchise like 007, it is as much about what you keep, as what you decide to discontinue. There are no exploding pens, and invisible cars, in that Bond23 does not insult the viewer. The movie pretty well speaks in silences, and in words. A well thought out entertainer. Not cerebral, but well thought out.
Raoul Silva: Do you like my island? My grandmother had an island. We could circle the whole place in an hour. Then one day, we went back to the island to see it infested with rats. They came from a sunken ship and fed on coconut. But my grandmother came up with a solution. She buried oil drums and filled them with coconut bait, luring them down the drums. In about three months, all the rats were trapped. So what do you do? Do you drown them? Burn them? You leave them alone. As soon as they run out of coconut, they begin to eat each other.When there are two left, you let them go toward the coconut trees. But they will not eat coconut anymore. They will only eat rat. You have changed their nature.
2. Judi Dench, Daniel Craig, and Javier Bardem – three of the finest actors of our time deliver very nuanced performances. Skyfall presents a somewhat complex relationships between its main characters, and it’s totally worth one’s time to see them pull it off. In one scene, Javier Bardem’s Silva, while exuding a constant calm, explodes in agony, when he realizes that M does not see his pain. Another interesting scene is when Silva pushes the envelope a little further in the constant “homoerotic undertow” between Bond and his villains. The right lines, and the correct actors were in place to deliver one of the more intense scenes in 007 history.
Bad: I did make fun of Pierce Brosnan movies. But the fact is, I go to see James Bond movies for the gadgets, the girls, the stupid idiosyncrasies, the one-liners, the impossible action sequences, missiles and solar shields that destroy the earth, exploding brassieres, and the overall ‘this so stupid, I am so stress free’ feel. For fucks sake! it’s James Bond. If I want darkness I will watch Nolan.
Verdict: Undoubtedly on track to be the first billion dollar movie in the franchise. James Bond survives.
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.