Bond…James Bond, Daniel Craig with a suit to kill for
One of the very few joys of being an independent journalist is the sheer freedom to write what one wants, when one wants and how one wants. It is only at the end of each month though does one discover how expensive that freedom is when bills arrive and one wonders “What now?”
Since we are not even halfway through November I can “afford” to indulge myself a bit and write on a Monday morning about the latest James Bond film “Skyfall” directed by Sam Mendes.
First things first, Bond’s suits are so sharply tailored that I felt even I could look good in them. Quickly enough I realized my folly and recognized that it is the body inside the suit and not merely the suit. He wears Tom Ford creation here. The suits were also tight enough to make Daniel Craig lust-worthy for women and men alike. Speaking of lust, Javier Bardem, who plays a MI6 operative gone rogue with such venal and campy relish, does caress Bond in an undiguisedly homoerotic way.
Craig was asked during a promotional news interview if there would ever be a gay Bond. As quoted on the www.metro.co.uk, he replied, ‘No… because he’s not gay. And I don’t think Javier [Bardem’s] character is either – I think he’d f*** anything.’
It has been explained that the scene is more aimed at making Bond feel “uncomfortable”. However, Bond being Bond does not feel uncomfortable as he retorts to Bardem, “’What makes you think this is my first time?”
Javier Bardem, right
Second things second, I knew ‘Skyfall’ has worked when three very elderly couples in the row just in front of me broke into unrestrained exultation almost simultaneously when Bond’s old favorite car Aston Martin DB5 was introduced with some flourish. It was almost as if some of them could have just left having seen Bond drive DB5. The bonus came when he playfully threatens to eject M (Judi Dench) using the red button on his shift stick. (That is not meant to be a double entendre but it comes across as one).
Bond and his DB5
As the Bond franchise celebrates its 50th year this year, I am happy to report that this is probably the best Bond film in a long time. I never review Bond movies because what’s there to review really? There is James Bond and that’s that.
Palm print coded Walther PPK 9 mm
‘Skyfall’ is interesting because it mixes the 21st century with the 1960s. For instance, Bond’s Walther PPK 9 mm. It is very much there but comes upgraded such that it is coded to his palm print, which means only he can fire it. His Quarter Master, Q played by the boyish but highly talented Ben Whishaw with nerdy self-assurance, does remind Bond that the pistol is “more of a personal statement” and not “a random killing machine.”
There is no point going into the story of the movie other than saying it is about Bardem having stolen the entire list of agents embedded with every terrorist organization in the world among other things. Bardem is brilliant in many scenes but particularly when he first meets Craig. The over the shoulder shot where he walks towards Craig telling him a little story about how they used to get rid of rats ranks as the best Bond villain introduction in my book. While Craig always delivers in his signature performance with every muscle tightly wound, it is Bardem who elevates the movie to a level not normally seen in the franchise. I would call it an Oscar worthy performance in so much as Oscars mean anything at all.
Sam Mendes manages to keep the vintage 60s mood as the movie’s underpinning even as he makes it a very current Bond outing without overwhelming you with all the gadgets and gizmos. My only problem with the movies that draw their dramatic edge from the spectacularly grand and misanthropic villainy of its main villain is that we seem to be running out of villainous ideas. One can well argue that we may have plateaued out as an entertainment civilization when it comes to screen villainy.
‘Skyfall’ draws strength from all its greatly talented actors, including Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney. In the end though, it is the movie as a whole that works. There is an exchange between Bardem and Craig early on which could well apply to the franchise itself.
Craig says, “Everybody needs a hobby.”
Bardem: “What’s yours?”
P.S.: The cheekiest reference in the film is Bardem referring to M as mommy. “Mommy was very bad,” he says.