|BlogalongaBond: Skyfall (2012)|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Thursday, 29 November 2012 16:06|
Well, this is it. After 23 long months – some longer than others *cough* Roger Moore *cough* - BlogalongaBond is at an end. But before you start holding your breath and counting to 10, there’s still the matter of Skyfall to discuss...
Right from the off, I suspected that Skyfall would be a lot like Spooks. I left the cinema convinced that I was right (see a Skyfall review here). London locations, a relatively low-key plot (i.e. no raking the moon or jet packs) and a lot of emphasis on Her Majesty’s Secret head honcho. In a similar vein to the BBC’s character-driven espionage, Skyfall wasn’t a Bond movie: it was a movie about Bond.
And how. After Casino Royale’s prequel-of-sorts, Daniel Craig’s Bond films have all found themselves in the same cycle of 007 finding himself. First, he becomes a hardened bastard. Then, he gets revenge. Finally, he gets a secretary. They’re all obsessed with moving the psychological/bureaucratic pieces back into starting position ready for Bond's future. Skyfall doesn’t do it as well as Casino Royale but it arguably feels the most complete.
Whether you buy the idea that Bond has suddenly become an OAP dinosaur (dinOAP?) just two films after his initial promotion doesn’t matter; Sam Mendes is having too much fun exploring the mythology of it all. And fans of the franchise do too. Is 007 just a title passed on down the MI5 production line? Before going all Alex Trevelyan, did Silva (the wonderfully sexy Javier Bardem) once bear the moniker, as he did M’s affections? And what exactly did happen between Bond and Moneypenny in Shanghai?
Ah yes, Naomie Harris’ transformation from gun-toting agent to “You’re right, James, I’m a woman, I’m not good enough to be out in the field”. It’s a massive cock-up of her character arc, but let’s face it: there’s not really room for more than one female in Neil Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan’s script. And that Bond girl is M.
M’s relationship with 007, played out with doting maternal overtones, builds beautifully on the Brosnan period’s development of her role (thank goodness Purvis and Wade stuck around after Die Another Day). These days, The Dench is the most important part of James' emotional jigsaw after Vesper Lynd. Judi’s death at the end of Skyfall is this generation’s Tracy, a loss given a post-Brosnan spin that allows Bond a GoldenEye-esque stab at revenge. It’s a smart move that rounds his rebooted character off – hopefully curing him of prequelitis once and for all – but also sets the stage for Ralph Fiennes’ new boss.
As Mallory sits there in his padded leather office, plucking his braces and swigging his Scotch, you wonder what exactly he does all day when Bond’s not in the office. The answer is quite simple: he reads this educational pamphlet I found underneath my seat in the cinema.
How to Be M
Have a name beginning with M…
This one's necessary, I'm afraid. After all, who wants to go through their adult life being called the wrong name? "M?" "No, it's Ian, actually.” That doesn’t sound mysterious or secretive at all. And you have to be the secretest of all Her Majesty’s secretive people. So if your name isn't Sir Messervy, Barbara Mawdsley (according to Raymond Benson) or Gareth Mallory, get yourself down the Deed Poll Service and sort it out.
… but don’t tell anyone what it is“I always thought M was a randomly assigned initial. I had no idea it stood for…”
“Utter one more syllable and I’ll have killed.”
That’s the spirit! Your name may begin with M, but don’t tell anyone that. Admiral Hargreaves (Robert Brown) never revealed his first name. Neither did Judi Dench, although Mallory calls her Eleanor (according to IMDb) and Albert Finney calls her Emma.
Why keep schtum? Because it’s fricking cool. Also, because M's name was probably something really embarrassing. Like Maxine. (Admiral Hargreaves’ taste in women’s underwear is still the subject of office gossip at MI5. Although that’s mostly because Tanner likes the excuse to say “bra” and giggle like a schoolgirl.)
“You’ve got a bloody cheek!”
I'll keep this one short and to the fucking point: Swear as often and as loudly as you can. It gives you gravitas and it’s good for your stress levels. Plus it keeps the BBFC busy – and the busier other organisations are, the less time they have to divulge state secrets.
Like M, 007 isn’t just a title bestowed upon anyone. Give it to your favourite agent – then say things like “I need you, Bond” and “He’s the best we’ve got” just when he’s in earshot. That way he’ll know how you feel…
… but kill them off anyway
… and will be even more hurt when you ditch him anyway. Suspend his licence to kill, order him shot in the back, abandon him in a prison in North Korea. Take whatever hard decisions you have to in order to get the job done.
Tell Bond to be a blunt instrument - over and over and over and over...
When you inevitably decide to take Bond back into the arms of the service (that’s another rule of the job), make sure you lecture him on how to avoid turning the mission into a personal vendetta. In fact, do it repeatedly, every chance you get.
Drink Macallan. Smoke cigars. Join a private mens’ club. Hell, read some poetry. Just do something to appear bloody cultured. You never know when a bit of Tennyson’s Ulysses will come in handy during a public enquiry. The public following the enquiry on Twitter will lap it up.
Get taken hostage
This is a career strategy that’s only become popular in recent years, but why should you spend all day behind a desk, calling in Major Boothroyd every 30 minutes just to tell him a naughty joke? Get out and see some of the world. Scotland, Istanbul, anywhere. And the cheapest way to travel? Get kidnapped so someone else has to pay for it. Best start hoarding up those dark secrets from your past right away...
Hire an intern
While you’re off being kidnapped by the world’s criminally insane, you need someone to make sure the junk emails about viagra get deleted every day. So hire an intern – or some kind of a paid slave. If possible, get them to walk around behind you when you stroll through the corridors. It makes you look important. Like The West Wing.
Know how to use a gun
If you’re ordering people around who use guns for a living, make sure you can handle one too. You don’t have to be a crack shot or anything – just good enough to shoot the intern at point blank range when they get your coffee order wrong.
Smoking, reading, getting abducted, playing with guns, swearing, not telling anyone your name and having to repeat the same old "blunt instrument" speech over and over can get pretty stressful. And that's not to mention the pesky intern. So do what any smart person would do in that situation: drink. Drink lots.
Be Pearce, Harry Pearce
A spy boss with a taste for Tennyson, a love of lubricating his throat and getting abducted? Yep. Forgot researching Bernard Lee and ask yourself one question: what would Harry Pearce do?
And that's how you run the nation's secret service. In short, become a drunken old woman (or man) who shoots her employees and swears a lot. Go to interview and do all of those things and you're a shoo-in for the job.
BlogalongaBond will return next month when we realise that it's only 24 months until the next Bond film and decide to the whole thing all over again. For everyone else's far superior BlogalongaBond entries, head here.