Thursday, November 01, 2012


Lady Chocolat and I went to see the newest James Bond movie on Friday. Demand was exceptionally high - the cinema kept putting on additional showings, we had to reserve specific seats (which I've never before done at that cinema, even for "Dark Knight Rises"), and it was almost completely sold out.

As is now usual for that cinema, we were treated to 35 minutes of adverts and trailers before the film. Which I find more than a little aggravating, but I've complained about it before. Then, as with "Brave", the lights went up and the audience were treated to an introduction by a member of staff. Honestly, I don't think that's necessary - you don't need to tell us you'll be monitoring to ensure our comfort and enjoyment, just do it!

And then the film started. And I must say, it was worth the wait. "Skyfall" was excellent, being much more in the vein of "Casino Royale" than of "Quantum of Solace". It was also quite old school for a modern Bond film, and included a number of references to the novels, and to earlier films, and these were generally well handled. I was impressed.

There was one major issue I had with the plot, which I'll go into below, but this was a relatively minor flaw - such was the strength of the film that it simply carried me along with it.

The rest of this post will include major spoilers, so you may want to avoid reading it...

Okay, there is a major plot point that makes no sense at all. The middle section of the film revolves around the bad guy allowing himself to be captured, only to escape and so be in a position to launch the next part of his plan. There are two major problems with this. The first is that there is absolutely nothing in his plan that couldn't be achieved equally well simply by buying a plane ticket. He doesn't do anything that requires access to the enemy camp, he doesn't provoke anyone to do anything they otherwise wouldn't have done, he doesn't plant any bombs or sabotage any systems, or... Basically, he takes a completely needless risk for no gain. (And, indeed, before he executes the rest of the plan, he is joined by his minions... who did get into position by virtue of just buying plane tickets!)

The second major problem was one that particularly annoyed me, but I suspect most of the audience just missed. The bag guy escapes because MI6's "computer expert" connects the bad guy's laptop to the MI6 network so that he can analyse it, thus in turn allowing said laptop to hack the MI6 network. In case it's not clear: the bad guy's escape plan relies on an alleged genius computer expert committing an act of monumental and collosal stupidity. I mean, I don't work with any great computer security, and yet we are absolutely forbidden to connect anything to our network that hasn't first been sanitised by IT. Our schools don't allow foreign computers to connect to their networks. And why? Because the risks are just far to great. And yet MI6's computer "expert" quite happily connects a foreign laptop from a known terrorist who is himself a computer expert, to their network.


That epic, gaping hole in the plot aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I really liked that Bond was shown to be suffering the wear and tear of his lifestyle. I liked that he appeared to be held together by alcohol and painkillers. I liked that haunted look that Daniel Craig brought to the role. And Judy Dench's performance as 'M' truly was excellent.

The other thing I really liked was the role of the female agent. She wasn't named right through the film, and I spent the film wondering whether she would turn out to be the new Moneypenny, or if she would instead launch a sudden but inevitable betrayal. And, right up to the end, I was still left wondering. That was awesome.

And I liked the end of the film, also. It now being 50 years since the first Bond film, this film in many ways was a trek back to the roots of Bond. And so, all the pieces of the puzzle were gradually put into play, they were gradually assembled, and by the end we get a very 'classic' Bond set-up - he's the trusted Double-Oh agent, he's relied on and trusted by 'M', there's a 'Q' branch, and Moneypenny, and he's all set for his next adventure.

When the titles rolled, and the statement "James Bond shall return", I was left with a great sense of completeness, and an anticipation for the next film that I hadn't really felt since... well, since "Casino Royale". Hopefully, the next film won't dash those hopes in the same way as QoS.

#41: "Post Captain", by Patrick O'Brian

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