Skyfall AJB reviews - SPOILERS!

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  • minigeffminigeff EnglandPosts: 7,745MI6 Agent
    osris wrote:
    minigeff wrote:
    Who's to say that Mallory's office at the end of SF isn't a temporary one while Vauxhall cross is rebuilt?

    This is a possibility, though not a great one, as Mallory’s office was made a big deal out of in SF. I don't think they’d do that if it were temporary.

    in what way was it a big deal? we only saw it for about a minute at the most. besides, how do you get rid of the Vauxhall Cross building in the future? Having MI6 move out for good is gonna be pretty difficult to maintain in future films.

    anyway, the location of M's office and the future use of Vauxhall Cross is pretty irrelevant and speculative.
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  • osrisosris Posts: 558MI6 Agent
    minigeff wrote:
    in what way was it a big deal? we only saw it for about a minute at the most.

    The way it was introduced seemed like the producers were making a statement about the future direction of the reboot. Anyway, how do we know it isn’t in a part of the Vauxhall Cross building that wasn’t damaged?
  • Harry PalmerHarry Palmer Somewhere in the past ...Posts: 325MI6 Agent
    I agree with Napoleon's review in many respects though I can't say I hated the film.
    I was just a bit disappointed as expectations were high and the potential for excellence was definitely there. Furthermore, the film's ambitions are huge and the more I think about it (saw the movie twice by now) the more disappointed I feel.
    Many of the inconsistencies (nods to the fans like the DB5) did not bother me at all. I also don't mind that two movies ago he was the new kid on the block whereas in 2012 he's an old dog. I assume there have been many missions between CR-QoS (both set in 2006) and SF, and we all know the job is a stressful one.
    That being said, I found the plot holes and some general choices unforgiveable.
    Mostly, I hated that Silva's evil scheme was a private vendetta against M. It trivilaized the character and, by extension, the entire movie. I kept thinking: there must be more efficient ways to kill M than getting almost killed by one of her agents, then getting arrested, then crashing a meeting with some political bigwigs, etc. Apparently it's not that difficult to get into her apartment, and Silva has shown that he can crack any level of security. So why complicate?
    Same goes for the final showdown at Skyfall. Setting aside the inaneness of Bond's plan, first Silva sends a bunch of henchmen to storm the place, then he shows up "Apocalypse Now" style and warns his men not to harm her. Was he counting on the first wave to fail?
    The "empty train at rush hour business" was also unforgiveable (let's have a big crash here, just for its own sake, but make sure it's of no real consequence), and the Joker-like escape from the holding Cell in the Mi6 emergency HQ was completely gratuitous not to mention derivative.
    It seems to me that the film is ultimately undermined by its ambitions to make the mission personal for everyone. It starts off with a Lector type maguffin (which is something I always welcome, as it gets Bond to do some spy-work for a change), and then veers towards a completely different story with no credible economy and far too many gratuitous plot complications inserted for dramatic effect. To me the film is perfect right until Severine dies. From then on, it hits one false note after another.
    1. Cr, 2. Ltk, 3. Tld, 4. Qs, 5. Ohmss, 6. Twine, 7. Tnd, 8. Tswlm, 9. Frwl, 10. Tb, 11. Ge, 12. Gf, 13. Dn, 14. Mr, 15. Op, 16. Yolt, 17. Sf, 18. Daf, 19. Avtak, 20. Sp, 21. Fyeo, 22. Dad, 23. Lald, 24. Tmwtgg
  • minigeffminigeff EnglandPosts: 7,745MI6 Agent
    osris wrote:
    minigeff wrote:
    in what way was it a big deal? we only saw it for about a minute at the most.

    The way it was introduced seemed like the producers were making a statement about the future direction of the reboot. Anyway, how do we know it isn’t in a part of the Vauxhall Cross building that wasn’t damaged?

    good point, in which case, it'd be a temporary office woudn't it?
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  • JarvioJarvio EnglandPosts: 4,208MI6 Agent
    The film currently has 8.2 on imdb.com. When I first checked it, it was at 8.6, then it kept dropping by .1 every so often I checked it.

    Just to compare, does anyone know what CR's imdb score was when it was first released? That's settled at 7.9 now...
    1 - LALD, 2 - OP, 3 - AVTAK, 4 - LTK, 5 - FYEO, 6 - DN, 7 - TSWLM, 8 - SF, 9 - DAF, 10 - OHMSS, 11 - GE, 12 - MR, 13 - TMWTGG, 14 - YOLT, 15 - TLD, 16 - GF, 17 - DAD, 18 - TWINE, 19 - TND, 20 - SP, 21 - TB, 22 - FRWL, 23 - CR, 24 - QOS

    1 - Moore, 2 - Dalton, 3 - Craig, 4 - Connery, 5 - Brosnan, 6 - Lazenby
  • justcallmesirjustcallmesir Posts: 18MI6 Agent
    osris wrote:
    minigeff wrote:
    in what way was it a big deal? we only saw it for about a minute at the most.

    The way it was introduced seemed like the producers were making a statement about the future direction of the reboot. Anyway, how do we know it isn’t in a part of the Vauxhall Cross building that wasn’t damaged?

    He was on the room of a Building, possibly MOD in Whitehall, when Eve arrived and said she didn't know you could go up there. Then they seem to have quickly got down to her office. There does not seem to be break long enough for them to get all the way to VC.

    Was VC shown before TWINE? I wonder if they moved there just to use the iconic building for the Q-boat launch?

    No reason for them to move back to VC for "realism".
  • osrisosris Posts: 558MI6 Agent
    minigeff wrote:
    good point, in which case, it'd be a temporary office woudn't it?

    The office Judy Dench used in the earlier part of SF after the Vauxhall Cross building was damaged was temporary, and so for M to be moved from one temporary office to another makes little sense, especially a “temporary” office that is part of the Bond heritage, used in all the Bond films up till AVWAK.

    And the introduction of this classic M's office at the end of the film, along with a new M and Moneypenny (are they temporary? No), indicates that this is M’s new office.
  • osrisosris Posts: 558MI6 Agent
    He was on the room of a Building, possibly MOD in Whitehall, when Eve arrived and said she didn't know you could go up there.

    I don’t see how Eve not knowing you could go up there indicates that the building (whatever it is) is not the location of M’s new office. Any high security building would have restricted areas.
  • minigeffminigeff EnglandPosts: 7,745MI6 Agent
    osris wrote:
    minigeff wrote:
    good point, in which case, it'd be a temporary office woudn't it?
    And the introduction of this classic M's office at the end of the film, along with a new M and Moneypenny (are they temporary? No), indicates that this is M’s new office.

    M's new temporary office?
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  • JarvioJarvio EnglandPosts: 4,208MI6 Agent
    The office at the end is blatantly the new office that will be used for years to come. If that office isn't used for bond 24, then the scenes involving it at the end of SF would have been more or less pointless/undone IMO, and a lot of bond fans would be pissed off.
    1 - LALD, 2 - OP, 3 - AVTAK, 4 - LTK, 5 - FYEO, 6 - DN, 7 - TSWLM, 8 - SF, 9 - DAF, 10 - OHMSS, 11 - GE, 12 - MR, 13 - TMWTGG, 14 - YOLT, 15 - TLD, 16 - GF, 17 - DAD, 18 - TWINE, 19 - TND, 20 - SP, 21 - TB, 22 - FRWL, 23 - CR, 24 - QOS

    1 - Moore, 2 - Dalton, 3 - Craig, 4 - Connery, 5 - Brosnan, 6 - Lazenby
  • justcallmesirjustcallmesir Posts: 18MI6 Agent
    osris wrote:
    He was on the roof of a Building, possibly MOD, in Whitehall, when Eve arrived and said she didn't know you could go up there.

    I don’t see how Eve not knowing you could go up there indicates that the building (whatever it is) is not the location of M’s new office. Any high security building would have restricted areas.

    What I meant was the conversation which began when she said "I didn't know..." started on the roof of a Whitehall building. It seemed that the same conversation ended just outside M's office, and it didn't seem there was much missing from it. Therefore I thought the office was in that building, not VC.
  • osrisosris Posts: 558MI6 Agent
    Jarvio wrote:
    The office at the end is blatantly the new office that will be used for years to come. If that office isn't used for bond 24, then the scenes involving it at the end of SF would have been more or less pointless/undone IMO, and a lot of bond fans would be pissed off.

    My point exactly. I can't imagine it not being used for his office after us being led to believe it will be. The producers/scriptwriters just wouldn’t do that.
  • osrisosris Posts: 558MI6 Agent
    What I meant was the conversation which began when she said "I didn't know..." started on the roof of a Whitehall building. It seemed that the same conversation ended just outside M's office, and it didn't seem there was much missing from it. Therefore I thought the office was in that building, not VC.

    You might be right. My point, though, was just to say that wherever the building is (Whitehall or Vauxhall Cross) M’s office, as shown at the end of SF, must be in this building.
  • osrisosris Posts: 558MI6 Agent
    minigeff wrote:
    M's new temporary office?

    No, his office for good... or at least for the foreseeable future.
  • Thunderbird 2Thunderbird 2 East of Cardiff, Wales.Posts: 2,718MI6 Agent
    Sorry I'm late! Saw my second screening today, so got a fresher perspective. I have tried to avoid major Spoilers, but I'll let you all judge. I try to do a review every so often to keep myself sharp, hence the layout. Ok, here we go...




    Title: Skyfall (James Bond 23)

    Tagline: “Think On Your Sins...”


    Bond's loyalty to M is tested, when dark secrets surface from her past and MI6 is attacked....


    I'll be blunt. I hate Quantum Of Solace. After the fantastic new beginning that had been Casino Royale I was very disappointed to say the least. So when Skyfall loomed on the horizon, I approached it with a wary sense of caution, even though I was only hearing good things regarding director, casting, possible storyline and concepts... Could it live up to the 50 year legacy of the 007 film library?
    The driving force of the film is the fact that a figure from M's (Judi Dench) past has been hiding in the shadows and is now out to torment her. Silva (Javier Bardem) starts this little plan by stealing sensitive information compromising MI6 agents and attacking the Vauxhaull building. The basic concept is clever, but it has its flaws. All the previous Bond films have highlighted that MI6 is like a small army, with the 00 section a specialist team within that. Trying to make the head of the organisation seem really weak or vulnerable was always going to be a tall order. Its also unfortunate that Bond himself sometimes feels a bit set to one side in this concept. The films are about him and who he is as well as what he does, and yet even when he is centre stage this is M's story and it looms over everything. - Its all about her, and how she relates to everything else.

    The main characters are all given something to do, but there is a distinct structure that shows it is primarily a three character story – Bond, M and Silva, with everyone else skirting around the edges. Eve, (Naomie Harris) Mallory, (Ralph Fiennes) Tanner, (Rory Kinnear) Q (Ben Whishaw) and Kincade (Albert Finney) are solidly formed but feel a bit like chess pieces to drive the story forward. - Pop in, do their current piece and buzz off again. This is only lessened for the staff because we know Tanner from previous films and Q and Eve come into their own in their respective scenes. Once the action starts moving to Scotland, it signposts in more ways than one.

    Skyfall tries hard to be new and bang up to date while trying to reconnect with 007's history as established by Ian Fleming. The film both succeeds and fails in this endeavour, because the references to the past feel like bolt ons. Its common knowledge the Aston DB5 reappears in this film. So far so good. But is that a reference to Casino Royale, - or Goldfinger? Another example, Bond is established as a tired war horse in this film. There are questions about how long he has been in service, whereas he is new to the game of espionage in Casino R and still seen as rebellious in QoS which was a direct continuation. - How much time has actually passed here? An unknown assassination takes place. There is no clarification as to how and where it fits in with the rest of the story, and is never clarified. Finally the use of Skyfall itself seems strange, and the final quarter of the film is very odd. If you have seen “The Dark Night Rises” you will know what I mean. Without giving away the plot the film has an empty victory feel about it, and one is left questioning Bond's tactics and where the producers plan to go next in the grand narrative concept. This is not helped by the writer's sudden need to fill in Bond's family background in visual queues that jar with the “M's story” main plot, and don't make sense in the greater context of what is happening.

    The cast for the film is more like a West End who's who. Alongside the establishment of Daniel Craig as Bond, Dame Judi as M, and Rory Kinnear as Tanner, we are introduced to Ralph Fiennes as the government overseer Mallory keeping an eye on MI6 from the PM's perspective, Ben Whishaw as a new and fresh take on the Quartermaster and Naomie Harris as field agent Eve. Whishaw is fantastic as the new Q, a character who could easily be seen as the grandson of Desmond Llewellyn more mechanically minded gadget-master in the original Dr No - Die Another Day timeline. A nice touch is his opening scene with Bond, appreciating one of the paintings at the National Gallery. The coda is obvious, but its lovely to see the character appreciates artistic things as many technically minded people often do, and the wit displayed by both characters is delightful to watch.
    Harris as well fires through her scenes with energy, verve and humour, showing a character that is good at what she does, even if she does not seem entirely happy with it. At least, that was the impression I was left with from the pre-credits sequence. I have been a fan of this actress for years, and having seen her in several tv series and films its a delight to watch her in Bond's world.
    Also delightful is Javier Bardem as Silva, a combination of all the best elements of previous baddies, - slightly unusual appearance, charm, brutal sadism, and perhaps the strongest part of the character – a perversely quirky, witty sense of humour. His little “poop” sound effect when describing technology and MI6 make you smile, even when you already know he is a bad guy to rival the worst. Bardem is clearly enjoying himself immensely and throws that energy into the character. He even flirts with Bond and Daniel Craig's response as 007 is a classic moment of one-upmanship. Very well done! Sadly the same cannot be said for Bernice Marlohe as Severine . I say that simply because the indications were we were going to be given another Pussy Galore of Xenia Onnatop type of character, so to see how little screen time she actually gets, and the ultimate nature of the character is disappointing. The actress is sexy and mysterious in the part and its a real shame she was not given more to do, though she gives it her all with what screen time she does get.
    The supporting cast is well thought out too, with Albert Finney giving a delightful but too brief appearance as Kincade. Again, an opportunity to look at Bond's past feels rushed and shoved in any old how, and the fact we get no practical time with the character reflects this. His “Welcome to Scotland!” had the cinema audience in hysterics. Good actors, excellent characterisation but just not enough time to build on the who's and the whys except for the plot elements relating directly to M.

    Direction is an area where a film flies or dies, and I was interested to learn that Sam Mendes had directed Daniel Craig and Judi Dench on the stage, as well as being a film director. Then I groaned – more arty farty symbolism, or deconstruction of the Bond legend? I needn’t have worried though, the direction style works well and what was in front of the camera is put on the screen. Though there is a tendency to play with height levels (tall skyscrapers looking straight down, buried underground looking up at sharp angles,) it doesn't have a poor impact on the look of the film. Good use of close ups capture character expression as well without overdoing it. I do think I could be forgiven for thinking that Mr Mendes may have had a chat with a certain Mr C Nolan in some places though!

    There is one area where Skyfall is weak. I missed the soundtrack the first time round completely, so on my second viewing deliberately paid closer attention. It was then I realised why it had sneaked past me. It is well orchestrated, but feels ordinary. Thomas Newman has not done anything particularly Bondian and even the use of the signature 007 theme music feels it was been dropped in as an embarrassed afterthought. The only exception to this is Adele's theme song, which although obscure at first makes sense when you know the story. I am not familiar with her work, but she does a good job of creating a Bond song at least as serviceable as the 007 back catalogue, even though it probably won't have the longevity of say, Goldfinger of You Only Live Twice. To me that’s more the music industry's failing, not the song.

    The other departments have clearly been working hard as they always do on Bond, and I am grateful to see the last Editor must have got the chop one way or another. - Skyfall returns to the exciting but sensibly paced cutting of the action that the previous films had, avoiding the epilepsy inducing mess QoS was. All the action sequences are laid bare to see, so we can see the work of the stunt teams, set designers and special effects folk in rich detail. Like the dialogue, you pick up more details in the visuals and effects the second time around the block. Cinematography of Shanghai and Macau is contrasted by the greyer hues used for London, and Scotland is given a mixture of colour until darkness falls. All steps in the right direction. Even the reference to the A9 is correct! It is home territory - I lived in Pitlochry for years and traveled down the road the day before the film's premiere, trust me on that one.

    Which in a funny way, brings me back to where I started. Does Skyfall make up for the errors of QoS? For the most part, yes it does, while making one or two smaller ones of its own. Is it as good as Casino Royale was? No. Nevertheless, its a valid entry in the Bond library, and although its internal references to Bond's past as a character are all to brief and fragmented, and it IS M's story, once you get that, the film itself proves the character of 007, and the concept continue to have a bright future. - Thank God!


    Rating 7 out of 9

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  • minigeffminigeff EnglandPosts: 7,745MI6 Agent
    osris wrote:
    minigeff wrote:
    M's new temporary office?

    No, his office for good... or at least for the foreseeable future.

    As in until MI6 move back into the rebuilt Vauxhall Cross building for bond 24?
    'Force feeding AJB humour and banter since 2009'
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  • justcallmesirjustcallmesir Posts: 18MI6 Agent
    minigeff wrote:
    osris wrote:
    minigeff wrote:
    M's new temporary office?

    No, his office for good... or at least for the foreseeable future.

    As in until MI6 move back into the rebuilt Vauxhall Cross building for bond 24?

    Or a pyramid, shipwreck, monestry... ;-)
  • justcallmesirjustcallmesir Posts: 18MI6 Agent
    osris wrote:
    What I meant was the conversation which began when she said "I didn't know..." started on the roof of a Whitehall building. It seemed that the same conversation ended just outside M's office, and it didn't seem there was much missing from it. Therefore I thought the office was in that building, not VC.

    You might be right. My point, though, was just to say that wherever the building is (Whitehall or Vauxhall Cross) M’s office, as shown at the end of SF, must be in this building.

    We are agreed.
  • minigeffminigeff EnglandPosts: 7,745MI6 Agent
    osris wrote:
    What I meant was the conversation which began when she said "I didn't know..." started on the roof of a Whitehall building. It seemed that the same conversation ended just outside M's office, and it didn't seem there was much missing from it. Therefore I thought the office was in that building, not VC.

    You might be right. My point, though, was just to say that wherever the building is (Whitehall or Vauxhall Cross) M’s office, as shown at the end of SF, must be in this building.

    We are agreed.

    Yeah indeed, but my money is on M relocating back to Vauxhall. That leather padded door can come off its hinges ya know. Last time I saw it, it was in the Barbican!
    'Force feeding AJB humour and banter since 2009'
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  • justcallmesirjustcallmesir Posts: 18MI6 Agent
    minigeff wrote:
    osris wrote:

    You might be right. My point, though, was just to say that wherever the building is (Whitehall or Vauxhall Cross) M’s office, as shown at the end of SF, must be in this building.

    We are agreed.

    Yeah indeed, but my money is on M relocating back to Vauxhall. That leather padded door can come off its hinges ya know. Last time I saw it, it was in the Barbican!

    As long as it isn't in a pyramid, or a shipwreck (actually that one almost made sense) or that building in Brazil :-)
  • A7ceA7ce Birmingham, EnglandPosts: 634MI6 Agent
    edited November 2012
    Just had second viewing, enjoyed it as much as first time. Appreciated Ralph Fiennes/Mallory much more this time around and Albert Fiinney played his role perfectly. Could really have done with more Silva screen time. The titles were good and Adele's song (whoever she is) fits in really well.

    Did JB have an opportunity to wipe out Silva and men when they land from Helicopter and he has a clear view of them in doorway for a couple of seconds- I think JB had a machine gun on him.

    Bond didn't actually get to use his signature gun but I suppose it was the opposite in that no one else could use it also.

    I reckon M should have pulled the trigger - seeing as he was on her way out anyway from the series.

    I know Eve has a british accent throughout but did she go a bit African in the PTS when she knocked the windscreen out and told people to get out of the way??

    Would they have killed Patrice if he had turned up with the chip or were they going to kill JB because Patrice didn't turn up.

    So Silva was 'abandoned' by M and all accounts was better than Bond currently is now - could Bond ever lose a screw and do the same thing?

    The Bond cues were all over the place and could have been betetr utilised.

    Still a good viewing.
  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,308MI6 Agent
    edited November 2012
    Shady Tree wrote:
    I saw the film last night and didn't rate it. ...

    Overall I found 'Skyfall' an enjoyable experience but your damning review is well argued. I've been tinkering with edits to my own review over the course of this week, trying to clarify my initial observations, but I'm going for a second viewing this weekend and I'll bear in mind your criticisms as I'm watching.

    I've now had a second viewing, and I still like the film. Napoleon Plural, your negative review picks out a number of implausible plot points. These are undeniably there, and I find M's/Kincade's unwise use of a torch as they make their way towards the chapel among the most niggling. But narrative logic is less important to the film than its symbolic and visual logic - and at those levels the movie succeeds. The other point I'd concur with you on is that the London rush hour scenes, where Bond is pursuing Silva through the Underground system, don't quite work: the extras playing the commuters look a little too self-conscious imho, as if they're quietly thrilled that they're in a Bond film. Bourne did London Waterloo more convincingly than Bond does the District Line.
    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • Thunderbird 2Thunderbird 2 East of Cardiff, Wales.Posts: 2,718MI6 Agent
    Shady Tree wrote:
    Shady Tree wrote:
    I saw the film last night and didn't rate it. ...

    Overall I found 'Skyfall' an enjoyable experience but your damning review is well argued. I've been tinkering with edits to my own review over the course of this week, trying to clarify my initial observations, but I'm going for a second viewing this weekend and I'll bear in mind your criticisms as I'm watching.

    I've now had a second viewing, and I still like the film. Napoleon Plural, your negative review picks out a number of implausible plot points. These are undeniably there, and I find M's/Kincade's unwise use of a torch as they make their way towards the chapel among the most niggling. But narrative logic is less important to the film than its symbolic and visual logic - and at those levels the movie succeeds. The other point I'd concur with you on is that the London rush hour scenes, where Bond is pursuing Silva through the Underground system, don't quite work: the extras playing the commuters look a little too self-conscious imho, as if they're quietly thrilled that they're in a Bond film. Bourne did London Waterloo more convincingly than Bond does the District Line.

    I disagree about narrative logic - QoS was in part a shambles because Quantum's motives did not make sense. - Still don't to me.

    However I completely agree about the Underground commuter extras! There were several I spotted on both viewings who just look like they are thinking "Oh my God, I'm working with James Bond, on a James Bond!" Not good. Having done a little Extra work myself, I have witnessed how getting carried away has killed work for some, and as a former London commuter, I know that the main expression actually is "daydreaming zombie meets hostile Anthropophobic!" If someone pushes past you, do you look like you want their autograph?! Sorry, rant over.
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  • Gadget MeisterGadget Meister Bicester, OxonPosts: 1,972MI6 Agent
    Regarding the new building it is most definitely NOT MoD Main building in London as you can see this in the background as DC is stood on the roof, also neither MI5 or MI6 have been based in MoD main building in the last 50 years.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,198MI6 Agent

    The cast for the film is more like a West End who's who. Alongside the establishment of Daniel Craig as Bond, Dame Judi as M, and Rory Kinnear as Tanner, we are introduced to Ralph Fiennes as the government overseer Mallory keeping an eye on MI6 from the PM's perspective, Ben Whishaw as a new and fresh take on the Quartermaster and Naomie Harris as field agent Eve. Whishaw is fantastic as the new Q, a character who could easily be seen as the grandson of Desmond Llewellyn more mechanically minded gadget-master in the original Dr No - Die Another Day timeline. A nice touch is his opening scene with Bond, appreciating one of the paintings at the National Gallery. The coda is obvious, but its lovely to see the character appreciates artistic things as many technically minded people often do, and the wit displayed by both characters is delightful to watch.

    Yeah, but to what end? Both Kinnear and Wilshaw are said to be the best Hamlets on the West End stage for the last 20 years. But it's not like they get to stretch their acting chops in a Bond film, so why bother? In particular, Tanner has been in two films now and does anyone know what his personality is? It could be any actor in the role. Okay, Whishaw has a personality as Q - but it could be a far less actor as he's still just a stereotype, in fact that Richard Akoeyede from The IT Crowd could do it just as well, and have a more comic persona to boot.
    Same with Fiennes, he's not bad but it may as well be the cold fish bloke from The Living Daylights, who we've never seen again in anything. Actually, I find these kind of actors wrong for the kind of film where they're meant to just dip in and make an impression, rather than give a layered, development of character.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • osrisosris Posts: 558MI6 Agent
    minigeff wrote:
    As in until MI6 move back into the rebuilt Vauxhall Cross building for bond 24?

    As I said before, how do we know the office isn’t already in the Vauxhall Cross building? Not all of the building was destroyed. Besides, wherever the office is housed, I think it will appear in Bond 24—it’s too iconic just to be used merely as an in-joke at the end of SF.
  • sniperUKsniperUK UlsterPosts: 587MI6 Agent
    Of course in Dr No Bond worked for MI7 , new department, new boss, new HQ?
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    Although to fully tie In, The fall in
    the Lake should of Darkened Bond's hair
    and given him a Scottish accent. :))
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,198MI6 Agent
    Some of our UK regulars are slow to post their opinions... Lady Rose, Lexi, FelixLeiter girl...

    Amazed how some folk on other forums bang on about wanting the gunbarrel at the beginning of the film... It's a ritual thing I guess.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Catching BulletsCatching Bullets Posts: 49MI6 Agent
    A THINKING, TAILORED, BOLDER SPY

    Catching Bullets – Memoirs of a Bond Fan author Mark O’Connell looks at the 23rd James Bond 007 film, Skyfall.

    SPOILER WARNING!

    “We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”
    Ulysses,
    Lord Alfred Tennyson





    From the opening shot of Bond emerging from the shadows at the bloody end of a Turkish shoot-out via the murky corners of cyberspace, the neon silhouettes of a Shanghai sniper attack and the measures a villain takes in order to hide and avenge his own physical phantasms to an ancestral pad that is now decaying in them, Skyfall is all about the shadows. But as Daniel Craig undeniably emerges from the ones of his predecessors, director Sam Mendes and Eon Productions’ 50th anniversary Bond opus is – to quote Skyfall’s accidental poet laureate Tennyson – “one equal temper of heroic hearts”. Proving the healthy sense of collaboration between Daniel Craig and creative house Eon Productions, it was 007 himself who gave director Sam Mendes his mission. And what a moment of apt serendipity as Skyfall is easily the finest end result of the re-pointing project of James Bond 007 as started by producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson as far back as 1995’s GoldenEye and matured like a bottle of ’62 whisky in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.


    “This is the end” starts London songstress Adele as Daniel Kleinman’s watery title girls pull Daniel Craig into a riverbed vortex of bleeding target silhouettes, dagger shaped headstones and skulls with tombstones for teeth. The first solo artist for a while to be at the absolute peak of her game when belting out a 007 song and the first song since GoldenEye to be about an actual plot MacGuffin, Adele is a natural choice for a very London and very British Bond film. With crystal-clear lyrics, Paul Epworth’s pristine production and those twirling Bassey wrists underscoring every beat, Ms Adkins soars and “stands tall” with Kleinman’s artistry. One title girl’s slo-mo gun to camera turn is as gloriously 1970s Bond as that continued use of a font that should surely by now be officially named Binder (after Bond title innovator, Maurice Binder). The baronial sweep of Skyfall and its’ stags, thorny pathways, Chinese dragons rolling at the audience like Victorian phantoms and the Bond family graves all vying for deathly prominence proves is the most gothic title sequence since Live and Let Die with its animated urgency, warped shadows and shattering hall of mirrors. Sorry Ms Adkins, but if Skyfall’s objets d’ark opener proves anything, there is no “end” in sight for Bond just yet. And if you are not singing Skyfall at the 2013 Academy Awards with a 50th anniversary 007 montage ebbing around you, this Bond fan will be most surprised.

    Talking of Oscar – he was obviously going to knock many a previous villain out of the Bond park but Javier Bardem supplies a literally jaw-dropping turn as bad boy Raoul Silva and could well be in the Best Supporting Actor club come ‘for your consideration’ season. Sadistically prissy with a dye blonde mane of hair and a Karl Lagerfeld sense of cosmetic vanity and pinched eyes, Silva’s look alone purposely doesn’t stack up – and his line in 1970s lounge wear straight from the wardrobe marked “Roger Moore” is just as nasty. This is a glorious Pedro Almodóvar queen of a rogue, a Villain on The Edge of a Nervous Breakdown. Without lending Silva a solid and familiar manifesto to upturn the world with a deliberate caper of monetary gain or global one-upmanship, Mendes and his writers’ Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan forever jar proceedings with Raoul. From his curious entrance via a slow-arriving elevator with echoes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Frankenfurter (“don’t get strung out by the way I look”) to an unsettling anecdote about changing the killing instincts of rats, Silva purposely just doesn’t stack up. The sick relish in which a captured Raoul zips up his prison uniform aware he is about to escape is jarring. The non-regulation thick blonde hair under a policeman’s hat is jarring. Silva cutting an almost underground Nosferatushadow when Bond ups the lights is jarring. Even just seeing Bardem on the London underground alone is jarring. And when those Catalonian eyes of Silva’s roll with anger at the chance of helicopter ride home being somewhat diminished or when Bond fires at some fire extinguishers to curtail a tribunal room shoot-out, Bardem’s simmering spite is as instantly memorable as Gert Fröbe idly scratching his eye “expecting” Bond to die in Goldfinger or Robert Shaw’s unnerving attempts to bromance 007 in From Russia With Love.

    And taking the Almodóvar reference to its logical conclusion, Bardem literally ties Bond up and ties him down to give him a bad education about his real feelings for our man James and the skin that he lives in. Actually, if Pedro hadn’t got there first, Skyfall and its ‘mommy’ issues could well have been christened All About My Mother. As Silva unbuttons 007’s Tom Ford shirt and lets his fingers do the wandering it is not a bullet scar that he is interested in finding, but rather sexual ones suggesting he could be in with a chance with Bond. M’s star pupil and the school reject should really not be playing playground bouts of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” but it is a glorious move on the writers part to threaten Bond not with lasers, tarantulas or ball-busting ropes but a villain’s hand stretching optimistically towards His Majesty’s crown jewels. Casino Royale’s Le Chiffre certainly got his man-crush eyes on Bond first. But now 007 is the victim of sexual harassment by a literal undressing against his will and an even more blatant sexual deviant than himself. Cue co-writer John Logan and his pièce de irresistible thunder-curveball and the best Bond-mot we have heard for a long time – “what makes you think this is my first time?”. In that one line a smirking Craig appeases those who suspected his 007 could be the one to suggest such sexual inclusivity (why wouldn’t Bond toy with a guy to move a mission on) but also suggests our man James is possibly a true Etonian after all.

    Silva’s party piece is grotesque, the nearest the 007 series has stepped towards horror since 1973’s Live and Let Die and a viable reason why title designer Daniel Kleinman utilizes all those melting skulls and burning veins. Whilst Mendes and the film possibly misses a trick to return to that jaw-dropping motif in the finale (how much more creepy could Bardem have been if Silva lost his ‘smile’ when forcing his gun and himself on his last act victims?), it is still a gorgeously outrageous gesture that in one grisly flourish justifies Silva’s Bond villain tag and Bardem’s high praise in the role. In Skyfall, he is both the devil and the detail. And the only Bond foe to ultimately get what he wants.

    Taking a role that was possibly a tweed-jacketed cliché, the gently mischievous Ben Whishaw is a deliciously impish Q soulfully aware though of both the “inevitability of time” and his Earl Grey tea. Removing the dusty red tape and pratfall confrontations of previous incumbents, Whishaw turns his Palo Alto geekery into a consequence-shy beatnik quicker than it takes to shelve the use of “exploding pens” with a winning grin even Bond can agree with. A Zuckerberg generation wolf in a sheep’s cardigan, this Q takes the hackneyed out of hacking with a learned temperament beyond his years as his darting eyes betray a panic and human concern beneath. Armed only with a Q-mug of Earl Grey, Whishaw works the late shift to control-alt-delete Bardem’s rather anti-social network, yet all the time keeping that vital impatience with Bond (“of course there are people everywhere, welcome to the rush hour”) as well as displaying a quiet love of art history to underline how Turner’s “grand old warship being ignominiously hauled away for scrap” is of course M’s plight in Skyfall. “Age is no guarantee of efficiency” defends Whishaw as the institution of Q points the finger at the 007 series itself. Mercifully, astute casting in Bond is always a “guarantee of efficiency”. And there is no more efficient use of scant screen-time than at the hands of the villain’s lady stooge, Séverine.

    Making scene-stealing swipes at any clichéd attempts to ‘update’ the Bond women, Bérénice Lim Marlohe’s Séverine is old-school personified with a grimly prescient backstory of child prostitution and an apparent lifetime of abuse. A Bond film is almost only as good as those first exchanges with a chanteuse by the baize tables of a casino. Skyfall is no exception as Marlohe acts Craig off his Macau barstool with her sinking face and quivering talons forecasting with a chill the malicious evil of Silva that is about to come (“what do you know about fear?”). Already a walking obituary to every first-act Bond girl, Marlohe soon cuts a sinewy, staggering silhouette as she and Bond are led through a Planet of the Apes style abandoned city crumbling quicker than Séverine’s hopes of a final salvation. In a series of films whose first-act lovelies have written the book on elaborate and memorable deaths, Séverine’s curtain down is a stark William Tell moment of a balanced whisky shot as Bond’s nervous gun hand refuses to play Silva’s sick games.

    Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace made conscious, successful strides to reset the character of these films, to have no back story connected to what went before (except perhaps the continued casting of Judi Dench as M). One of the joys of Skyfall is that with three films in Daniel Craig is now able to trade on his own previous 007 outings. A curt instruction to Naomie Harris’s Eve to take her finger away from her radio earpiece recalls Craig’s earlier pet hate at some uncouth field agent’s identical faux-pas in Casino Royale. Being strapped to a chair as a male villain peacocks around him sees 007 yet again become the non-simpering heroine tied to the railway tracks of a villain’s sexual proclivities. A line of dialogue about knowing when a woman is scared quietly recalls the tragedy of Vesper Lynd and the last time Daniel Craig set foot in a casino. Just as Judi Dench’s M once declares inTomorrow Never Dies (1997) how “unlike the Americans, we prefer not to get our bad news from CNN”, that is exactly how the ‘dead’ James Bond is pulled into the mission of Skyfall when a TV in a backpackers beach bar breaks word of MI6’s misfortune. However, after three films where Bond is caught in the early hours necking M’s home stash of Bourbon you’d think the head of MI6 could install some decent locks.Daniel Craig is on blistering form inSkyfall. Clearly dedicated to the fitness, motivation, purpose and presentation of the James Bond character like no-one before him, his is now a Bond that lets a grin in on the edges. The writers continue the conscience of the character as laid out in Royale and Solace – a recurring concern for a dying fellow agent Ronson and a refusal to put him out of his misery hints sees Craig’s Bond now guided by his scruples rather than wrestling with them like before. The moment when a chapel-bound Bond nurses a dying friend with his childhood guardian looking helplessly on is an agonising beat for the Bond series. Never before has Bond been seen as the orphaned boy with literally no-one in the world left. But Skyfall, Mendes and Craig pull that off without once derailing the granite emotions of the very insular Commander Bond. If anything, his newly re-formed MI6 family are now of greater emotional relevance than ever before. It is not just the returning cinematic iconography of reuniting all these figures for the first time in a while that causes an inward cheer. You are glad Bond has those characters back in his life because this lone white knight has no-one else.

    As expected this fiftieth anniversary entry honours the expected beats of a Bond movie – not least the score. Composer Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Wall-E) continues his penchant for Celtic undercurrents and slithers of governmental intrigue, replacing his trademark Americana from the likes of The Horse Whisperer, Revolutionary Road and Meet Joe Black for The Iron Lady’s sense of Westminster machinations and corridors of power. Funereal bugles and brass add sombre flourishes to the beginnings of M’s downfall alongside a gloriously camp and 1930s serials sense of matinee villainy as Séverine’s yacht steers toward the Skull Island that is Silva’s not-so palatial residence.

    And we have a barnstormer of a Bond Arriving moment as Newman’s swelling strings and Daniel Craig glides in upright on a Macau casino boat flanked by fireworks, elaborate dragons, floating lanterns and Roger Deakins’ lush cinematography. A detour to Shanghai provides an elevator-grab straight out of a You Only Live Twice Tokyo break-in as billboard neon jellyfish turn a silhouetted bout of fisticuffs into a Maurice Binder underwater skirmish. Brief touches honour the golden milestone of Bond – Silva has a bottle of ’62 whisky, an apocalypse wow moment sees John Lee Hooker’s ’62 Boom Boom ignite the finale attack from a helicopter tannoy, M’s Cadogan Square homestead is not a million metres from where John Barry resided in the 1960s, Fleming’s favourite city Istanbul overtures proceedings and a quick step on the back of a komodo dragon surely bares its teeth of homage to, once again, Live and Let Die. And of course the Aston Martin DB5 is brought out of storage for the audiences to let out their biggest cheer and to cut a stark sight in the imposing hills of Glencoe – the location of both one of Scottish history’s most infamous massacres and that of James Bonds (it is where his parents mountain-climbing parents Andrew and Monique met a death with their own skyfall, thus shaping our man James and his outlook on the world forever more). Like all the Bond films, the DB5 of Skyfall is a silvery sidekick to Bond and a valued member of a ragtag, small unit of anti-Silva defenders making do in a shadowy old baronial seat. When an approaching line of Silva’s men drop into the horizon like armed plunderers from Peter Weir’s Witness, it is the DB5 that is the last line of defence before Bond, M and Albert Finney’s benevolent gamekeeper Kincade (possibly the childhood benefactor Vesper Lynd alludes to in Royale) have to go all Straw Dogs on Silva’s men.

    But Skyfall’s best nod to its heritage is how Mendes, his writers, cinematographer Deakins and production designer Dennis Gassner craft a near-airtight narrative made up of cause-and-effect character judgments, motivations and outcomes. Nothing is left hanging in Skyfall. Except perhaps Bond dangling above a Shanghai skyline in a Vertigo moment of back-projection just that bit cruder and less ‘realistic’ than it should be. The end result of that quick beat is an instant time-machine back to mid-1960s Connery and the back-projection trickery that has curiously aged less than Brosnan’s CGI tsunami kite-surfing debacle. Following the examples set in Casino Royale andQuantum of Solace, the set pieces in Skyfall are all about Bond – not the stuntman’s union. Even in a sea of MI6 bods and tribunal ministers (a tenet of the Brosnan years), Deakins and Mendes keep their story and camera focus simply on M, Mallory and Tanner. The resulting shoot-out is a gun-slinging bout of story-forwarding character decisions, not second unit fireworks. And when Bond sprints through the chaos of panicking emergency services, MI6 allies giving instructions from the crow’s nest of cyberspace and Thomas Newman’s stately score it is that lone Daniel Craig that emerges as centrepiece, the real English lion of Skyfall and this rich era of 007.

    In Gassner’s most expressionistic of MI6 bunkers, a busy sea of typists and desk elves are visible but the drama resides in Mallory, Q and Tanner on their own in this bunker after hours. A Macau casino is a gorgeous timber den of croupiers with fierce silver fringes, stocky Korean heavies sans killer hats, leggy lovelies walking through frame at that slow Pinewood extras pace and komodo dragons lurking beneath the floorboards like SPECTRE piranhas. The Macau moments have a brilliant sense of 007 artifice about them, a thumbs up to former design maestro Ken Adam proving that you can take Bond out of Pinewood Studios, but you cannot and (must not) take the Pinewood out of Bond.

    London has featured or been referenced in nearly all the Bond films, usually via a quick cut-away of a red telephone ringing on M’s desk or a red bus passing the MI6 building old and new. Yet this is not London through a 101 Dalmatians lens. The red, white and blue of the Jubilee, the Olympics and even Craig’s notorious parachuting monarch moment are now usurped for a more tangible London of squealing paramedics, Metropolitan police stab vests, Vauxhall Bridge holds ups, tube barriers, dirty lock-up garages and, er, Clapham high street. A Union Jack flag may symbolically stand tall with a closing-scene Bond surveying all that he protects, but the iconic emblems are first seen draped over the coffins of the MI6 dead. This is a 2012 without tourist pageantry and vistas. Deakins’ shots of Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Westminster are street level – no Bond Arriving grandiosity on the home turf here. From Tottenham girl Adele on opening crooning duties and the National Portrait Gallery lending Ben Whishaw’s Q and Bond a great water-cooler moment under the seafaring watch of Turner’s ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ to the shadows and catacombs of unused tube lines and a Churchillian porcelain bulldog stressing M, Bond and the 007 series steely resolve, this is curiously both the London of empire and post-empire – a possible nod to the Connery years and the crossroads of past and future they carefully positioned themselves in.

    The Blair-ite era of the MI6 years in Vauxhall is here resigned to an aged oil painting of said building behind a very familiar oak and mahogany strewn office with a stage-right leather door and a leather-topped desk purpose made (or taken out of Pinewood storage) for dropping Eyes Only documents and passports onto with boss-like urgency. MI6’s London is now stepping away from the capital of the Pierce Brosnan years (with its video-walls, glass partitions and holographic training programmes) towards a bespoke, possibly Tory-inspired modernism more akin to the Robert Brown as M / Universal Exports years. But instead of the hierarchy of cigar-fuelled gentlemen’s clubs, this is a MI6 made up of ‘Northern Ireland’ veterans, field agents who are not the best shot, filthy temporary digs, Bond in regulation trainers, presumed dead operatives seeing their homes sold off in an instant and agents who get passed without meeting medical criteria. Ralph Fiennes is a clever bridging measure in Skyfall. Initially pitched as an incisive bureaucrat in braces, his quiet approval of M and Bond and eventual less quiet support of them and their principles is one of the joys of Skyfall. In an era of cinematic moles and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy remakes, it is refreshing just to have a governmental meddler who is doing so for the right reasons. As Fiennes’ Mallory rolls up his sleeves to muck in when the finger-pointers have long clocked off, that sage-like Whitehall wisdom is no longer a smokescreen. It is who Mallory is going to be. And not just in this film.

    At the core of Skyfall – and risky as it is not strictly Bond’s story arc – is Judi Dench’s M and her suffering an external fall from grace, an unrequited humiliation at the hands of ex-employee and all-round fruit-loop Raoul Silva. Mendes renders M’s career demise as ever so familiar in a current British political context of “midday” tribunals and inquests masking real blame and accountability, and all the time bypassing any decent understanding of the real shadows good men like Bond have always worked in. This is a dangerously distracted and sadly familiar Britain – where how things look are of more concern than how they are. A heart-rousing scene involves M not only pulling apart the finger-pointing rhetoric of Helen McCrory’s MP with a brilliantly protracted and interspersed use of Tennyson’s Ulysses (could you imagine a Die Another Day set-piece pausing for such eloquent breath?), but all the time underscoring the very nature of Bond as her hero, a British hero and our hero. This is Skyfall’s very own Leveson Enquiry with extra acting leverage – a stirring beat of a scene when the initially snippy Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) proves his real allegiances and the only MI6 members not to flee like cowards deftly prove their gun-toting durability and possible resolve for 007 films to come. Just as Bond could be narratively sidelined, M’s plight becomes Bond’s. Not because he is her star pupil, but because he is (and has always been) the only one to embody that “will” of Tennyson’s “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”. M puts herself into Bond’s hands not because she has given up (though she comically doesn’t care if he uses his ejector button on her in the DB5), but because she knows he will not. Or rather, cannot.

    Cue a Harold and Maude road trip – or Harold and M – as Craig and Dench take the high-road to the Highlands in the first Bond film finale to pitch its tent of explosive fun on British soil. Fleming famously cited in his latter Bond novels how 007 had Scottish heritage. Skyfall’s “back in time” motif sees the Bond movies and Ian Fleming go full circle. Believed to be a Fleming eleventh hour nod to the successful casting of Sean Connery in the screen embodiment of Bond, Skyfall now marks the dual foundations of why we are all here fifty years after Dr. No – namely the titular Skyfall lodge has both Connery and Fleming to thank.

    For this golden anniversary 007 bullet, Skyfall is a Bond film whose story drives are cleverly predicated on the supposed 007 clichés that Royale and Solace took wise steps away from. Bond and Raoul do not have elaborate toys at their disposal. Using unsexy radios – the gadget wow factor of the early Bonds – is how these two dual. Silva’s literal burning rage at queen and country has been triggered because a cyanide-tooth regulation gadget dramatically failed. Bond’s car is not a modern city boy’s wet dream, it is the vintage Aston Martin DB5 cutting through a deliberately foreboding aerial shot straight out of The Shining as Bond forewarns “a storm is coming”. Bond’s recurrent lady aide Eve is not a formula-escaping twist. She is as part of the beloved formula as a double-tufted leather door, a stage-left office desk and an impatient intercom demanding we “cut the pleasantries”. Sam Mendes was not lying through Silva’s back-teeth when he said Skyfall was going to feel like it could have been made fifty years ago. With the sky fallen good and proper, this 23rd Bond film ends on a purge of utter nostalgia. Who would have thought a double-tufted leather door and a new secretary could have caused so many 007 fans’ souls to somersault with glee at how Skyfall culminates and where the future of Bond begins.

    To get your copy of Catching Bullets go to www.splendidbooks.co.uk and all good print and e-book stockists.

    Mark O’Connell is on Twitter : @Mark0Connell

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