Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Skyfall" and the Post 9-11 World

I highly recommend “Skyfall,” which is the best Bond movie in some time.  Combined with “Casino Royale” (2006), Daniel Craig has reinvigorated the franchise and banished the memory of the Pierce Brosnan era (1995-2002).  Like the “Batman” series, the Bond films have made a dramatic and welcome transition from the frivolousness of their 1990s incarnations to the more realistic post 9-11 era.

Reminiscent of the “Bourne” series,  “Skyfall” demonstrates the increased seriousness of espionage films since 2001.  Craig’s Bond offers none of the quips associated with previous iterations of the character, most notably Roger Moore, who played 007 throughout much of the 1970s and 1980s.  Instead, he seems deadly serious and focused on defending England from terrorism.

In “Skyfall,” Bond has to contend with the threat from Javier Bardem’s Joker-like villain, Silva.  Like Heath Ledger in “Dark Knight,” he plans a series of elaborate attacks to sow chaos.  Silva’s final aim is to embarrass and kill Judi Dench’s M.  To do so, he launches deadly attacks on the headquarters of MI-6 and other real targets.

Unlike the post-Cold War, pre-9/11 Brosnan films, the threats posed by Silva are relatively realistic.  Gone are bizarre plots by Rupert Murdoch wannabes (“Tomorrow Never Dies”), strange characters who can no longer feel pain (“The World is Not Enough”) or evil North Korean military officers who somehow became English businessman (the embarrassing “Die Another Day”).

The three films starring Craig have been prequels that show him evolving into something resembling Sean Connery’s original Bond.  Q makes a welcome reappearance in “Skyfall,” though he provides Bond with gadgets that are not as over-the-top as previous films, such as the invisible car Brosnan uses in “Die Another Day.” 

In testimony before an oversight committee, M firmly established 007’s move from the Cold War to the war on terror, noting that the world’s threats are no longer nations, but individuals.  “How safe do you feel?” she asks, right before another attack.  With Craig playing Bond and (SPOILERS) Ralph Fiennes succeeding Dench as M, at least the Bond franchise is safe. 

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