arts / film / Pop Culture / Review


**Minor spoilers ahead**

The newest installment in the much-beloved Bond series (almost constituting a genre unto itself, with its checklist of Bond-movie markers) is a welcome departure from its plodding predecessor, Quantum of SolaceSkyfall hearkens back to the more classic Bond movies that came before it, from little gems hidden in the dialogue (“for her eyes only”, Bond warns an MI6 lab technician) to the small gestures that recall the suavity remixed with the brutal Bond Daniel Craig was supposed to be. Example: in its opening scene, which involves a train, bulldozing equipment, and several unfortunate VW Beetles, Craig’s Bond leaps into a ripped-open train car and pauses to adjust a shirt cuff before going after the villain. In a scene set at a lush Macau casino (one of the movie’s most beautiful shots follows Craig as his boat drifts through a sea of lanterns toward the casino), Bond orders a martini. A shot emphasizes the bartender shaking it before Craig says, “Perfect”. This is a far cry, as my friend pointed out after leaving the theater, from the Bond who in Casino Royale was asked whether he wanted it “shaken or stirred” and replied, “Do I look like I give a damn?”

Obviously, the change in approaches to Bond’s iconic martini signals a reworking of the franchise’s approach, especially with Daniel Craig as its leading man. This Bond mines the psychological impact of espionage on its agents slightly more than previous “new” Bonds have done. It is a film preoccupied with aging, death, and decay—as the film’s trippy and hypnotic opening sequence, set to Adele’s crooning, signals. It is also a film entangled with the story of M (played by the formidable and yet somehow adorable Judi Dench) and her agents: the way she cares for them (or doesn’t). In fact, the emphasis on M is so strong that she becomes in essence the true Bond girl of this movie, which offers alternatives in Eve and a throwaway Bond girl (Severine) working under the villain. And its villain (played by a blond Javier Bardem) is an English major’s dream: Bond’s uncanny double, the unheimlich menace who calls M “mommy”, attempts to enter Bond’s childhood home (and perhaps Bond himself…) and is both effeminate and terrifying.  The film moves at a steady pace and is altogether a welcome addition to the long-running franchise (50 years!). Its attempts to mine a deeper insight into Bond are appreciated, and it is always, in the end, good entertainment.

tl;dr it’s worth watching!


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