Just as James Bond looked saddened and stunned by Q’s statement that there would be no more exploding pens, I too, looked just as despondent. I swear there was a moment where Daniel Craig awkwardly looked at the camera right back at me and we both realised what we’d gotten ourselves in for. It was entertaining, but was it really James Bond?
When I think of James Bond, the ridiculous evil plots, vast lairs in unusual occasions and unbelievable gadgets come to mind. And who can forget the misogynistic, maybe even sexual harassment banter he had with a variety of women across the world? Yeah, those sure were the days. Only one man can ski off a mountain and launch a Union flag parachute and his name is Bond – James Bond. This new guy has the same way with the ladies, is just as daring and likes his Martini’s just as much but he is an imposter.
Skyfall is original, as its villain isn’t interested in a new world order or capital gain. He wants something different. He’s a former agent who wants revenge. This fresh idea makes it an entertaining film and is helped in no small part by the exceptional performance of Javier Bardem. However, the narrative is something more suited to the Bourne franchise and the dark tone is more reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Even the sequence of setting up booby traps seemed more like something from an R-rated version of Home Alone than a James Bond scene.
This new series may reference the old Bond but it does so either to subtly poke fun at its eccentricities, or to fondly remind us of its charm. Regardless of what elements it alludes to, it does so in the way any reboot series would conduct itself – close enough to cash in on former success but distant enough to justify experimentation with the plot. These new Bond films do just that, getting the nod from the old guard by showing off an Aston Martin, then appealing to a new generation with a rebranding of Bond’s character. He may call it “resurrection” but those of us who prefer the classic James Bond know it is actually reinvention.
As enjoyable as Skyfall is in places, it is equally as uncomfortable at times as well. It would be a much more satisfying watch if it was a completely new franchise, rather than one capitalising on the legacy of the old Bond. Maybe these new Bond films are a closer adaptation of Ian Fleming’s books but I’ll take Bond sliding across the Austrian border in a cello case over Casino Royale any day. Until Daniel Craig infiltrates a volcano base with a team of ninjas fighting in the background, he isn’t James Bond.