Skyfall: Out with the old, in with the Q

I saw the latest James Bond movie 2 weeks ago and I still find myself thinking about it sometimes as I go about my day.  It also doesn’t help that I keep listening to Adele’s “Skyfall” and that Ben Whishaw exists.   But anyway.

I still haven’t seen Casino Royale, which I’ve heard is excellent– but I have seen Quantum of Solace a few times on TV and quite enjoyed it.  When Skyfall came out and I heard it was the best Bond film ever, I thought that maybe it was time I saw a Bond movie at the theatre.  And then I saw Cloud Atlas, became acquainted with the actor Ben Whishaw, realized that he was the new Q, and my excitement increased exponentially from there on.  As did my qualms about my sky-high expectations being met.

The opening scene was simply incredible.  I love how Daniel Craig/Bond jumped through the train roof and just adjusted his cuffs– clearly, still the coolest guy around.  Then the shot rang out and he fell and the opening titles began and the first chords of Adele’s “Skyfall” echoed through the theatre and it was like a dream.  A really dark, beautiful, fluid dream.  Can’t beat Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo titles, but still, very impressive.

Not surprisingly, I loved every scene Q was in, especially that introductory scene.  Brilliant repartee, perfect delivery, loved the contrast between the “old” and the “new”.  I will admit, I was shocked when it was revealed that Q, in his eagerness to decipher Silva’s code, had inadvertently allowed him to hack in; it seemed like too easy a mistake for Q to make, especially since he knows how good Silva is with computers. So a bit strange, but it did lead to a great chase sequence between Bond and Silva with Q narrating (“Put your back into it!” “Why don’t you come down here and put your back into it?!”) A bloody big ship indeed.

Really really really loved Naomie Harris as Miss Eve Moneypenny; I’m so glad she’s not just a secretary who has dalliances with James– she’s also a fierce female who completely kicks ass and may potentially be the next M after Mallory.  Her wardrobe was pretty fab too.  Now Sévérine, I’m still undecided on.  I wasn’t expecting her to be gone so quickly, and the way Bond didn’t seem to mourn her death at all seemed weird to me.  I know he’s a lethal agent, but he’s not a robot.  Another aspect I found problematic was that the film seemed to suggest that “James Bond” is actually his real name.  I assumed it was a secret agent name, because wouldn’t it be risky to go tell all your enemies your name? And have new enemies already know who you are? Rather unrealistic, in my humble opinion.

I really have to mention the scene where Silva seems to threaten Bond with sexual advances.  I thought it was a really bold move on the writers/director’s part and I absolutely love it.  I don’t actually know if Silva was legitimately threatening Bond or if, like Daniel Craig said in an interview, he was just trying to rile him up (as Bond was doing in turn), but either way, interesting.  In the first scenario, it means Bond has slept with men before, which, in his line of work, isn’t surprising.  I like that he’s comfortable with it, while I suspect that many an audience member would be a bit taken aback (James Bond, epitome of macho and misogyny, has done things with men??)  In the other scenario, Bond still is comfortable with the concept, which is awesome.  In a world where homosexuality is seen as a “disease” by many, implying that James Bond has had sex with other men (without his actually “coming out” — why do non-heterosexuals have to come out when heterosexuals don’t have to?) is a milestone, I’d say.

And finally, oh M.  That was really quite moving, especially with it happening at James’ childhood home– Skyfall.  (Gorgeous shots by Roger Deakins, by the way.  Someone give that man an Oscar.)  I’ve grown up with Judi Dench as M – with a woman as M (first woman!) – and it’ll be odd to have Ralph Fiennes as M now, even though I grew to like Mallory as the film progressed.  But you’ll always be M to me, Dame Dench.

I guess what I’ve been trying to say is, go see Skyfall! Never thought Sam Mendes would be one to direct a Bond movie but really glad he did because it was just brilliant.  Bravo, Bond.