“Skyfall” the continuing and renewing story of James Bond

Not a bad movie, all in all. It didn’t have Connery, Llewelyn or Lee, but it was pretty good all the same. For the youngsters, they’ll never know.
The one complaint I have with this and nearly all movies made currently is the emphasis on special effects and stunts. They are well done – once one suspends belief enough to believe this sort of thing is actually happening (I’ve chased cars in traffic, by the way). Still, the movie does have a flow and that internal logic needed for any story to be believable.

Daniel Craig is a very good fit in the person of Bond. He has that look – described by Fleming – of a certain cruelty, perhaps better worded as focus and determination. He is not overwhelming physically; he looks pretty much like a regular guy, not a superman.

Judi Dench does an excellent job of M, the director of MI6 – what Fleming referred to as the Secret Service. As the director, M is direct, concise, ruthless and concerned all at once. Obviously, she isn’t a real director, as she tends to ignore the ignorant politicians who attempt to make themselves famous by fouling up the process of defending national interests. Still, she is what one would hope to see in such a position.

Ralph Fiennes is one of the official government interlopers in MI6. He calls M into his (Fiennes’) office to tell her she’s being put out. She’s being allowed to retire, but she is being put out and no mistake. However, since there is a crisis of international turmoil going on, she has a certain amount of time to resolve things in order to provide for an ‘orderly transition’.

Ben Whishaw assumes the sub-director role of Q branch. He is addressed as ‘Q’ since that is his title, but he is not the same fellow who ran the shop in the old days. Q is now a bit more serious, more interested in computer work and not so involved in fancy doo-dads. In fact, he says to Bond, “We don’t do exploding pens anymore.” Whishaw is a believable techie geek. He does well in the part.

As Q, he is rather competent. Oh; one doo-dad. Q issues Bond a new pistol: A Walther PPk/s with a biometric sensor that will allow only Bond to fire the pistol. (This technology does exist, by the way; one holster was being made with a ‘sensor’ that would only allow the authorized user to withdraw the pistol therein. It came out several years ago and I haven’t heard of it since. No agency seems to have purchased them and no one I know has one. Or admits it, at least.) The underpowered pistol (still in 9mm short, or .380 ACP for the U. S.) and a tiny radio that will broadcast his position anywhere on Earth are all the tricks available to Bond this time. To the credit of the writer, Q does include the obligatory admonition to ‘return the equipment in good condition’.

I’ll leave out all the women who pass through the movie. They have a certain decorative place, but seem to be more props than characters. Except for Naomie Harris. She’s the woman – other than Miss Dench – that actually contributes to the story line and plot. She does a pretty good job of holding up her end – other than that awkward moment when she kills 007, of course.

Javier Bardem makes a great villain. He is complex, deep, twisted, ruthless and psychotic. He has also become a computer genius, which is really the basis of his overwhelming power as a villain. His whole motivation is the grudge he bears. The character takes ‘grudge’ to new heights – at the least a personal best. Mr. Bardem is very convincing as a maniacal, hate filled killer. Possibly more so than “No Country for Old Men”.

The mistakes. Oh, dear, there are some grievous errors; mostly in firearms usage, but also in the computer venue. For instance, when ‘breaking’ the villain’s laptop with all the secret information, they casually plug it into the MI6 mainframe. Sure they would.

Probably the most egregious error in when Bond has to shoot down a helicopter. Instead of using the one serious caliber firearm in his possession – a hunting rifle suitable for large dangerous game – Bond dumps the rifle and replaces it with a captured submachinegun in 9×19 NATO. The heavy rifle would do more damage to that ‘chopper than any 9mm handgun round. Obviously, the script writer didn’t agree.

With all that, the movie as a whole is worth seeing. It is exciting and full of twists, some obvious and some very well hidden. It is a ‘renewing’ story. The producers have veered away from the somewhat light-hearted undercurrent of some of the past movies. The whole tone of the underlying themes is a bit more serious and focused. Much like Ian Fleming shifting from SMERSH to SPECTRE as the cold war changed, the producers of the film series are observing the change from conventional threats and hazards to the internet world of sabotage and information stealing. A credible concept.

However, there is a battleship grey Aston-Martin in the cast. And they do use the Monty Norman 007 Theme.

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