Dir: Sam Mendes
Cert:12 • UK: 137 min • MGM • February 18, 2013 [DVD & Blu-ray]
In the 1972 novel The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian there is a villain called Miles Millough. Trevanian’s James Bond, Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, is the metrosexual heterosexual to this archetypal fey homosexual villain, who has, believe it or not, a poodle named Faggot. The homosexual villain was popular in late ‘60s/early ‘70s spy thrillers. He stood for the deviation from the path of Cold War heterosexual masculinity that the Bonds of fiction typified.
In Skyfall, the third film featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond, the dread homosexual villain is resurrected. He is fey, bitter, and angry at his Mommie, i.e. Judi Dench’s M, for doing her job many years ago and surrendering him to his fate rather than undermining the security of British intelligence. Javier Bardem’s Silva slithers and slides up to Bond, shoots the woman who did what he wanted by bringing Bond to him (probably because the homosexual villain hates all women), and is generally creepy. And the entire film hinges on his bitterness.
At the heart of Skyfall is … next to nothing. There is no real story, just a series of sequences strung together, all driven by the fact that Silva has lost his mind and wants revenge on M. The writers know where they want the story to go, but the problem is that they don’t care to make sense of how it gets there. They want the action, the big scenes, but they do not bother to build the foundations for the scenes.
What they do know is that they want Silva to be captured so he can get inside MI6 and exact his revenge, and show off how clever he is. The result is utterly unconvincing because they are not concerned with the suspension of disbelief. There is no suspense, no moment when you say, “my, isn’t he clever?’ Instead you can only think, sarcastically, “oh, how convenient”. The writing, and the weaving together of the story, is lazy.
To take an example, Bond chases Silva through the trains on the Underground, after he has tried to take out M in a hearing that he could not have planned for, but for which all his necessary henchmen are in place. Silva exits the Underground train at a random station, and Bond follows. Just as he catches up (after another series of convenient events) there is a bomb in just the right place to blow a hole in the ceiling that then brings down a train, which stops Bond in his tracks. It’s all built around this sort of sleight of hand.
Skyfall is forced together, ramshackle, in order to make its ending possible. But that does not make it probable. This seems to be the sequence of events with Bond films: First, employ a new actor to play Bond, and reenergise the franchise with a wallop – think Goldeneye, Casino Royale. Second, follow up with a story that’s nowhere near as good – think Tomorrow Never Dies, Quantum of Solace. Third, hit them with a badly thought out filler before the next actor takes over – think The World Is Not Enough … and now Skyfall? Is it really time for another Bond already?