Have Your Say: SKYFALL Spoiled?

Associate Editor, Features; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
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Have Your Say: SKYFALL Spoiled?

(Hi Mr. Bond, you're about to get screwed...)

The teaser trailers of several James Bond movies in the past featured the tagline "Bond Is Back", yet for few it would be so fitting a sentence as it is for Skyfall. Wherever it premieres it thunders through the multiplexes with all the mass of a financial mastodon, gathering money and leaving people smiling. Because the general consensus is that people are very happy with Skyfall. At the moment it has even entered the IMDB Top-250 list.

Bond is back indeed and delivering the goods, in such a way that some feel the film is above criticism. It makes for a striking difference with other Bond films in general, which tend to exist somewhere BELOW criticism. Who cares about plot and acting in a Bond film? Many Bond films are like sketch comedies, consisting of separate highlights grouped together by something which only bears a mere resemblance to a storyline. The whole franchise has basically survived on delivering outings into its own glamorous universe, where just the thinnest strands of logic are needed to be able to get to the next titillating babe, the next jawdropping stunt or the next funny gadget.

But there are exceptions scattered throughout the first four decades of the franchise, and nowadays the rebooted Bonds with Daniel Craig use a different tactic.
Skyfall is a nice example of this: the film is almost entirely character-driven, relying on the palbable tension and fireworks that show whenever two of the leads lock horns, instead of depending upon stunts and explosions. This is especially true for the film's last two hours (!), making this more a thriller than a fun action flick.

A more mature Bond fighting a more mature villain is a good thing of course and a joy to behold. But being a thriller also means that Skyfall cannot easily be forgiven for the usual Bond story gaps. In For Your Eyes Only we have a parrot expertly repeating a strand of conversation which turns out to be the only lead to the villain's stronghold. That was a Roger Moore Bond film and as such it could get away which such cringe-inducing sillyness. Skyfall, less so.

Which is why I'm going to list a few of my pet peeves here which took me out of the film and which prevent Skyfall from making my Top-10 list for 2012 next month.

WARNING: There Will Be Spoilers!
To be able to go into detail I have to do some hardcore spoilering here. I will try to avoid it where possible, but if you do want to go into the film fresh, do not read any further. And that goes for the comments as well. So here goes: things that didn't stop nagging me throughout the film.

1: James Bond has all the evidence, and sits on it until someone starts to kill scores of his colleagues.

The film starts with a list which is stolen, a list containing all MI6 agents working undercover in terrorist organisations. When these people's identities are later revealed one by one by the villain, they are executed. Bond thankfully is on the case, identifying the list's thief and tracking him down in days.
Unfortunately, the only piece of evidence he uses is something he has kept to himself during his extended holiday. Way to go Bond! You could have prevented the entire villain's plan from the outset just by showing up two weeks earlier with that bullet.
Of course, nobody chides him for it throughout the entire film. They chide him for everything else, but not about the fact that his timely debriefing would have saved everyone.

2: James Bond has a plan. It involves giving the enemy everything he wants. On a fucking plate.

I could argue that most of the villain's plans depend on several things he could not possibly predict, but that would be nitpicking. After all, there is plenty of fun to be had with Silva giving Bond and MI6 the runaround so I'll let it slide for serving a purpose. And Bond's final solution to the cat-and-mouse game is a pretty good one: he lures Silva to a secluded area that is better known to Bond than to the villain. A place where there are no computer networks or easy access to information, so Silva cannot use his formidable hacking skills. Here Bond will supposedly have a better chance to protect M and defeat her enemy.

So to be on the safe side, Bond kidnaps M and prepares to fight the big fight when the enemy comes to get her. And he's armed with... with... ehm. Well, there are two septagenarians willing to fight the army with virtually no weapons except booby-traps.
And one of the two elderly is the one person who should not be allowed to get hurt: M herself. Good plan, Bond? You lure the enemy to this barren valley and despite the presence of secret tunnels and stuff, you try to keep her out of harm's way by putting her in the only two buildings there? Silva doesn't really need a computer to figure out where she is...

3: Kincade has a flashlight and is not afraid to use it.

Picture this: Bond has blown up the building which had M hidden in it. Silva is outside, devastated. M is either dead or has safely disappeared, and Silva is in the middle of nowhere with most of his army decimated and his ride reduced to ashes
And you can see it in his face: this was not supposed to have happened, this is a man defeated, cheated out of the revenge he had so meticulously planned. If M is somewhere out there, where can she be? Darkness surrounds him except for the blazing remnants of the building. Nothing can be seen in the hills...

But what is this? A flicker of light in the distance? Salvation! Let's go check it out!

Look, I can see the need to have a final ehm... final. A last face-off between all leads. But for crying out loud, couldn't they have thought up a more elegant way to get there?
Bond's increasingly asinine plan has M being hidden in what is now the ONLY remaining building in the entire valley. And to make sure Silva knows where she is, Bond's groundskeeper Kincade gallantly flicks on his flashlight to show M the way.

Mull that one over for a second. This is not Rowan Atkinson in a cameo, this is Bond's very capable groundskeeper who has been tending the valley for decades, someone who we've been told can blindly find his way there. And he doesn't even need a flashlight, as the whole place is lit up perfectly by the huge pyre in the center which used to be the main building.

So back to Silva looking around in desperation. Hey, what's that in the distance? Two old people on the hillside with a flashlight going to the chapel. Hmmm, might be worth checking out...
To add insult to injury, Silva then proceeds to use the landscape against Bond, and the chapel has not been boobytrapped. Increasingly incapable Kincade is even caught without a weapon as he brings M a blanket. Boo!

This Is the End... Hold Your Breath And Count To Ten...

Bond lives to Die Another Day and ends the film where most of the others start: getting briefed by (a new) M for a mission. And we can happily anticipate another Bond adventure, hopefully soon.
So... wait. Why isn't he in jail? He kidnapped the old M and got her killed!
I'd have loved to see that debriefing.

Again: I did not HATE Skyfall, in fact I loved most of it. But the callous disregard for cause-and-effect spoiled it for me in no uncertain way
Do you agree? Disagree? Am I a snob for not loving the film entirely? Am I too easy on it?
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Sam MendesNeal PurvisRobert WadeJohn LoganDaniel CraigJudi DenchJavier BardemRalph FiennesActionAdventureThriller

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DaSoji1November 12, 2012 4:44 PM

1) MI6 was practically in ruins when Bond "kidnapped" M, and nobody was really aware of the "kidnapping" except Q, M's assistant and the new M. It's safe to say that they probably chose not to hold anything against Bond for various reasons. And MI6 still needs him for obvious reasons. So no jail time.

2) I didnt have an issue with the flashlight scene. The groundskeeper was old, so is M, and it's dark, and there may be environmental hazards to watch out for in the valley. Hence the flashlight. Sure, they probably didnt consider the fact that their little flashlight would give them away....May not have considered Silva tossing grenades in the house either....I think that bit of story was intentional, further letting the viewer know that Bond's "plan" was not the best, but only option.

3) Bond's plan wasnt the best, but most likely was the only option. Dont you think if Bond could have put on a tux and ended the movie in a fancy casino-boat with stealth technology and sharks with lasers and a henchman with spikes for ears after making love to another Bond girl, he would have?

Silva has an island computer network that can do anything "with just a click" of the mouse. Bond and M would be vulnerable anywhere in the world except....gasp....somewhere that does not have all that fancy technology that we have become so accustomed to in the Bond movies.
He picked the one place that he knew he would have an advantage, where he could get a clean shot at Silva if all went well. I dont believe there was a real plan. That became apparent with the nails in the chandelier. Lots of improvisation.

Loved the film.

Heath KhanNovember 12, 2012 9:21 PM

Totally agree! I also don't know why on the way to his parents house he couldn't have just dropped off M at another house somewhere along the way or just packed her a lunch and dropped her in a field somewhere to hang out for a day or two.

Also, anyone else see some interesting cribbing from the Nolan Batman movies? Silva was Jokeresque and the whole "Oh no, he meant to be caught!" I am suprised that these people live a world where not everyone has seen TDK and wouldn't have seen that coming. Also, 007 is an orphan who has his family mansion burnt down to the ground? I've seen something similar before.

I also liked it a lot, I just wanted to fall in love.

methosbNovember 13, 2012 12:46 AM

Those issues don't bother me at all. The issue that bothered me more is that there is no reason for Silva to follow them. He could have just kept killing people in London or whatever place he wants. What are Bond and M going to do, just let him kill tonnes of people? No they are going to go back to the city where he wants them.

James DennisNovember 13, 2012 6:58 AM

Flashlight scene is fine by me - 2 pensioners, Scottish highlands, night - time - you're just asking for a broken hip from stumbling in a rabbit hole without a torch. Plus, in the scheme of an enormous house fire, machine guns, dynamite and an exploding chopper, you can't blame them for thinking a tiny flashlight wouldn't be that noticeable. And anyway they were probably hoping Bond would finish them all off before they got a chance to follow.

James DennisNovember 13, 2012 8:55 AM

Agree on the Batman steals - I also thought Silva's 'facial disfigurement' was very Harvey Dent. Despite all the plot mishaps mentioned in this thread, none of them distracted from the fun for me, especially within a Bond universe. You could moan about the old Aston too - how old would he have... oh wait, hang on. It doesn't matter. Anyhow whatever plot issues there are, on the subject of Batman, they're not half as daft as TDKR which frankly made NO SENSE at all.

S CartonNovember 13, 2012 9:02 AM

The movie was great for the first few minutes during the initial chase scene, but after the opening credits, it went downhill. It was excruciatingly boring except for the scenes with Bardem. Bardem is the sole savior of this film just like Ledger was for the TDK which was quite boring as well. This is coming from a guy whose favorite Bond film is Casino Royale. I guess I can expect the lemmings of the world to praise this Bond film just like they did for TDK.

Evan KerstiensNovember 13, 2012 10:43 AM

Really liked this movie, but I was confused why the villain's plan to kill M required he get caught in the first place. I must be missing something. He obviously had the whole thing planned out, but getting caught and jailed gained him nothing. He could have walked into the committee hearing in his police costume and shot M without having to get caught, hack the computers to open his cell door, kill the armed guards with his bare hands, go on a long chase through the subway (all the while pulling Bond along with him so his plan will most assuredly be foiled), blow up some previously planted C4 so a precisely timed subway train could come crashing into the room to let him escape up the ladder, and then simply walk into the hearing to shoot M. If he really wanted to talk to M before he killed her, do what Bond did and show up at her home. Bond snuck in after the explosion at MI6 so I assume security can't be that tight. The only two reasons I can think of are:

a) to hack the M16 computers from the inside. but he already hacked their network earlier in the movie so I assume he could do it externally again and his original plan before M escaped doesn't really require their network except to open the cell door.

b) because he wanted to destroy MI6's credibility and infrastructure. However, he seemed to be doing that just fine from the outside.

I get that he's a egotistical psychopath, but he was a skilled agent who should have been able to achieve his goals in a far more logical and efficient manner. All they had to do is add a couple lines saying, "We beefed up security after the first hacking attempt so this was the only way he could have gotten in, and, oh no, now he's uploading our entire network to his servers!", and I'd be like, ok, he had to get caught so he could download all their files for later use. Doesn't impact the overall plot, but lets me silence that nagging feeling that the whole subway chase scene is really cool but pointless.

Joe RonquilloNovember 13, 2012 1:45 PM

Mendes has admitted to being influenced by Dark Knight:


Heath KhanNovember 13, 2012 2:15 PM

I also think it's worth noting how fantastic the first scene between Silva and Bond was. In my opinion one of the most enjoyable scenes in Bond history.

Also, it raises the question: Does Bond have gay sex, I have got to think the answer is yes, at least once. Heck, Wilt Chamberlain who claimed to have sex with 200,000 women (probably in the same range as Bond) openly admitted to having sex with a dude just to see what it felt like

danNovember 13, 2012 6:58 PM

Throughout the film I kept thinking about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

Less Lee MooreNovember 13, 2012 9:53 PM

Thank you for pointing out your pet peeves in a reasoned, intelligent manner and not whining about plot holes and being a dick. I enjoyed this article a lot.

Kurt HalfyardNovember 13, 2012 10:25 PM

Pretty sure they were going with a "Jaws" (the teeth, not the shark) homage with that particular scene.

heddeDecember 17, 2012 6:43 PM

Just saw it and right you are. That shit totally spoiled it for me. It insulted my intelligence and yes, there would have been way more credible solutions to get where it had to go. I'm really outgrowing this kind of movie, that's my main conclusion.