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Review: Skyfall

Simon Pitt | Film | Sunday 11th November 2012

Now this may come as a surprise to no one, but I'm a big fan of Bond films.

Not all of them, of course. No rational human enjoys watching Moonraker, but generally I enjoy the Bond franchise. And this year sees the release of the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, praised by many, including Roger Moore, as "the best Bond film ever".

Skyfall is an atypical Bond film. The finale feels more like Home Alone than Bond. Even though it borrows plot points from The World Is Not Enough (an explosion in MI6 headquarters, and M being kidnapped) it feels different. Gone is much of the wit and charm of previous Bond films, instead it latches on to a number of zeitgeists.

M faces a House of Commons select committee, something of a sign of our times, I think. After the Hutton Enquiry, the Leveson Enquiry, and most recently George Entwistle's appearance in front of a select committee, they're becoming a regular sight. The Thick of It recently dedicated an hour-long "enquiry special" to a fictional enquiry into Government leaks.

Javier Bardem plays Raoul Silva like the Joker, his wiry haired makeup adding to the effect.

Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva

The idea of a single but powerfully intelligent villain is something we've seen in the last two Dark Knight films, with the Joker and Bane.

Heath Ledger as the Joker

Like the Joker, Silva intentionally allows himself to be captured, only to escape and wreak havoc on a personal mission of revenge. And on the other end of the spectrum, Ben Wishaw, as Q, channels Matt Smith playing the Doctor in Doctor Who.

Ben Wishaw as Q

Matt Smith as the Doctor

Leaving the cinema, L said "I'm not sure what I want from a Bond film anymore." I think I know, and I think this isn't quite it.

And last, but not least, product placement. Now, this has always been a part of Bond. Where would 007 be without his Aston Martin and his Martini. I don't have a problem with Bond drinking bottled beer while he's off on holiday. I don't even have a problem with Richard Branson appearing in Casino Royale. But Sykfall began with half an hour of adverts, all of which featured clips of the film being reused for advertising purposes. Of course, MGM was in financial problems, and couldn't make the film without it, but this was poor taste. And didn't even help the brands.

Bond and Beer

Maybe product placement has never been a problem before for me because all of the brands that featured in the film were beyond my means (BMW, Aston Martin, Rolex, Omega. These are things I wouldn't want to buy anyway, but I'm happy for them to identify themselves as the top end of the market by being the item Bond uses). There's a kudos, I think, from being the brand of car Bond drives or the watch he wears. But by misappropriating Bond footage for use in an advert, they're doing it the wrong way. Rather than raising the value of their brand, they're cheapening Bond.

All of this sounds like I didn't enjoy the film, which isn't true at all. It's very good with some lovely set pieces, a great opening sequence, title sequence, and theme tune. But is it the best Bond film ever? I wouldn't take Roger Moore's word for it. "He ought to know," one website says, but maybe he doesn't. Remember the whole Moonraker thing.



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