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.