by Robert Sterling
Amongst the many treats to be found in Skyfall, perhaps the most surprising comes in a pre-credits flashback to Bond’s childhood where for the first time we see 007’s birth parents played by Lois Maxwell and fan favourite George Lazenby.
Even more surprising then is their violent and brutal death, at the hands of Blofeld, Scaramanga, and Auric Goldfinger working together for reasons that are never fully resolved. The young Bond takes this badly, turns to drinking in a montage which quickly blends into the present. Bond, now the full grown adult long time fans of the series have come to expect, is chasing down a bushy eyebrowed terrorist type, culminating in the scene we’ve all seen in the trailers. Adele’s depressing them tune kicks in.
After the credits are out of the way we are inside MI6, where Bond’s lowkey wake is being held, where M and several suited operatives reminisce about 007. Here we get another in a long line of cameos, as Roger Moore pops up like an eyebrow to quip ‘he was certainly no saint…’
Of course Bond isn’t dead, he’s engaged in soft-focus foreplay with a girl of miscellaneous foreign descent. She doesn’t get a name, because she’s not a full on Bond girl. In fact she exists almost entirely so Bond can reply to the question ‘where the hell have you been?’ with ‘enjoying a taste of Heaven.’
And of course once we’ve had the pre-credits sequence, a few quips, and a ballad the story can begin in true Bond style. In this outing Bond is called into M’s office and is told about the exploits of Javier Bardem, who MI6 think might be a criminal. Bond is sent to go and find out, but not before the welcome return of Q, now played by Ben Whishaw. It is a shame, after John Cleese’s mesmering, phoned in performance in Die Another Day, to see an actor taking the role seriously. Nonetheless he does the job, and ladens Daniel Craig’s Bond down with gadgets— an MP3 player with an ‘explosive’ soundtrack, knitted socks that are also grenades, and a laser that can also be used as a torch. On top of this the DB5 is back— and whilst the Lotus Espirit from The Spy Who Loved Me was a submarine, this DB5 is transforms into harrier jump jet!
Bond first travels to Antigua, for no particular reason other than for some nice establishing shots and so he can loudly asked for a glass of Malibu at the beachside bar before commenting on the smooth taste and affordable price. By chance he runs into a Russian investigative journalist, Ira Bendmeova, who also happens to be investigating Bardem. Bond probes her until he’s satisfied. He goes to get more champagne, but when he comes back Miss Bendmeova has rather predictably been killed and covered in caviar. Bond doesn’t look any more surprised than the audience.
The action moves to Scotland, but all Bond finds of Bardem is a glass of milk. He moves on to Switzerland, obnoxiously telling anyone who’ll listen about how he was married to Diana Rigg off the Avengers once, but everyone tells him he’s losing it and he’s thinking of Mark Ruffalo. Again Bond is a step behind the evil Bardem, but he hasn’t been skiing since 1985 so he does that for a bit whilst goons chase him warily, knowing that this will probably be their final scene in the film.
It is one of these hapless henchmen that reveals Bardem’s whereabouts to Bond before being thrown down a crevasse. Naturally, he recovers in a fancy casino/bar with a martini. Here he meets the glamorous Anita Sukuoff, who tells Bond he looks a little shaken. ‘You’re mistaking me with my martini’ comes the reply. Anita is also looking for Bardem, because she is the sister of the first Bond girl but has married into the morally dubious Sukuoff oil family. They team up, because it’s a Bond film and that’s what happens. They get in the DB5, but Anita is confused because Bardem’s secret island hideout is on a secret island and they need to fly— of course this is where the famous Aston Martin sprouts wings and turns into a fighter jet.
And so we come to the pulsating third act, on the South Asian island of Niknak. At first the island seems deserted, save for a Tesco Express. However this is just a front for Bardem’s real operation— mining and militarising the radioactive mineral cronkite that Niknak is full of. He captures Bond and the girl and gleefully reveals his plan to load a rocket with cronkite and blow up the Moon, casting the Earth under perpeptual sunlight.
Bardem ties Bond up, fondles his balls a bit, and licks his ear as though it were a gently melting Cornetto. Bond doesn’t like it. Henchman frisk Bond, and take away his gun, MP3 player, and laser torch.
Bardem locks Bond in a windowless cell, but he gets out by taking his socks off and wedging them under the door. Because they are also grenades they blow the door open and kill a lot of guards. With only seconds to go before Javier Bardem blows up the Moon Bond retrieves his MP3 player and tells Bardem there’s something he should hear. Bardem puts the earphones in, and presses play. His head explodes because the MP3 player is also a grenade.
As the base falls into chaos Bond finds Anita Suckuoff. When she asks what happened to Bardem Bond replies with ‘he burst an ear drum.’ Anita looks confused, but then they run away, jump into a life raft and have implied sex whilst M and Q watch on a monitor like randy old perverts.
After the tedious realism of Casino Royale, I think it’s safe to say that Bond is back. Five Stars.