Adam Lovejoy writes from London: I have to confess that I’ve never been a big James Bond fan. I tried reading the books and I attempted to like the films, but I failed. They just didn’t work for me. Most of the films were quite pathetic really, especially the ones with Sean Connery and Roger Moore in them. Later they picked up a bit but not to the extent to be treated as good cinema.
And then came Skyfall, out on DVD since Monday, and we were all told that it would be a new type of Bond film with something resembling a real plot, for a change, outstanding action scenes and some really hot chicks in it. It is nothing of the kind and the give-away was an absolutely massive marketing and advertising campaign that surpassed everything that Agent 007 had ever experienced in the past. And even if it were made on a shoe string budget and had Bond been portrayed as a one-legged lesbian with issues, it would still have grossed some serious money, because of the massive over the top promotion.
So here’s the rundown: Skyfall loses the plot completely because it resembles an action blockbuster that has nothing to do with James Bond. The plot is absent and is strung together simply because the makers needed to show some fancy locations, just for the sake of it. (And here the old boring tradition is kept alive.) The stupidity of the whole thing is magnified by the fact that Bond’s boss, M, played by Dame Judy Dench, one of the biggest miscasts in the whole franchise, is the cause of all the problems, having lost a disc with the names of all, yes all, NATO agents working undercover in terrorist groups around the world. (Why on earth would there be a list of ALL NATO agents working undercover as terrorists and why would it be in the possession of a stupid cow like M?) So, in effect, Skyfall is a story of one silly woman who causes a gigantic mess but refuses to step down until she sorts out the problem.
And then there’s Bond himself, actor Daniel Craig, on his third outing, who looks old and rusty on this occasion and even some of the characters around him are telling him that it’s time to pack it in. Craig should have been dropped after Quantum Of Solace and the franchise wound up. But he keeps on at it, running round without any real purpose, ending up in trouble, all thanks to his own incompetence, and frisky at the sight of pretty much every chick he bumps into – even if they aren’t exactly hot or fun to be with. And he drinks Scotch a lot, before, during and after his missions. Hence the constant failures.
In Skyfall Bond starts badly, as he always does, trying to recover the disk with the names of NATO agents but ending up shot by one of his own people, on orders of M, by the way, who thought, for some unknown reason, that it made perfect sense at the time. He then disappears, presumed dead by his ‘firm’, which hastily disposes of his flat and puts his possessions into storage, as the regulations state. But then things happen that have nothing to do with the stolen disk and the MI6 headquarters come under a cyber attack that magically destroys a whole floor and leaves several valuable agents dead and M grieving over their coffins wrapped in the British flags. And Bond, who is actually alive and well – which is intended to come as a great surprise to fans – returns to help his old friends out.
And then the plot or at least what is indeed to be the plot simply falls apart. Bond goes to China – Shanghai, in case you’re wondering – and confronts a hired assassin who stole the list of agents, but manages to screw it up as usual by killing the man. Luckily for him he finds a casino chip on him and off he goes to Macau where things get even more confusing, although he does eventually end up meeting the culprit, a former MI6 agent, who went rogue because he had a bone to pick with M of all people for setting him up years before by betraying him to the Chinese, in return for 6 British agents.
It is useless to follow the story or rather lack of it but in the end Bond ends up shielding M from the rogue agent in a way that makes you wonder how on earth he ever made it into the secret service in the first place. And the bad guy gets his dues, by a lucky coincidence mostly, and you wonder why the hell you wasted your time watching all that rubbish and why the people who made it even bothered.
The Bond franchise has outstayed its welcome. And even though Sam Mendes, the director, tried to breathe new life into it, he failed. Because the concept is dead. Has been dead for a while actually.