Ozzy Armstrong on whether it’s time to worry about the future of James Bond…
After the announcements on Thursday regarding Bond 24, now known as Spectre, Bond fans took to the internet to announce their excitement for what’s in store. At the same time, there was also me. I’m not excited for Spectre, I’m nervous. I’m nervous because I have a feeling that it will be a terrible combination of all of my worst Bond related fears.
How can I feel like that you ask? It’s simple, it’s because of Skyfall. Don’t get me wrong, Skyfall had a hell of a lot of plus points as a film. It was as beautiful as almost any picture of the last few years and it had some sublime performances, especially that of Bardem’s big baddie.
Unfortunately though, I don’t care for it at all. And it’s not just a mild apathy, I truly hate it. I hate it so much that I was angry for days after my first viewing. After a long time, I had calmed down and thought to myself ‘Skyfall was a massive critical and commercial success, maybe you were wrong’. So, in the spirit of giving it another go, and to see why everyone else loved it so much, I watched it again and lo and behold, I was still angry.
Let me come back to why I dislike Skyfall so much so we can briefly look at the history of Bond.
When Bond was first introduced to us, it was very much something new and different. We had a hero who was channelling Bogard and a globe-trotting adventure not really seen before. Connery also gave us a physicality and charm that hadn’t been on screens in years and everyone began to fall in love with the franchise.
Then came a multitude of missteps in the franchise, starting with the Roger Moore films. The camp and silly approach to Bond, while fairly successful and popular in their day, have now become incredibly dated and almost unwatchable at times.
There was however a brief period of reinvention of both the character and the franchise as Dalton donned the famous tux. In his two outings, we witnessed a Bond who was both vicious and charming in equal measure (something that Casino Royale did marvellously).
Unfortunately though, the Brosnan Bond films followed and all we had to watch was complete and utter drivel (with the exception of GoldenEye who we can all agree is a decent movie). These films were so bad that they came close to completely killing off the Bond franchise.
Thankfully for everyone, Casino Royale was made and it wasn’t long before it was being praised for stripping back everything about Bond. It gave us a character and a story that we had long been waiting for and almost completely removed any trace of the bloated and preposterous character Bond had become.
Finally we get to Skyfall, a film that, as I mentioned earlier I clearly dislike.
I’m very aware that I’m in the minority here but let me briefly discuss why I feel so negatively about Skyfall and you may begin to understand my worries for the future.
Firstly the plot. Bardem’s Silva is as clever as he is devious and he has all of the skills that Bond does. His plan is elaborate and you’re given to thinking that he could strike at any time. He lures Bond to the island as he wants to get captured, all so he can escape and exact his revenge on M. Why then is the climax of his plan effectively to barge into a courtroom and shoot her? Is this not something that’s a little simple after so many months of planning? Could he of not just killed her at some other point?
What about the rest of the plot? It seems that the script writers may have been watching other films for inspiration when penning this tale. We’ve got:
– A fight scene that’s incredibly reminiscent of the Kill Bill Crazy 88’s scene or the old Gap TV adverts
– A story that begins by borrowing heavily from the first Mission Impossible and the capture of the Noc-List (something which basically gets forgotten about after 20 minutes)
– How about the big showdown in Scotland? I’m sure we’ve seen that before in a Christmas film about a boy who stays home alone?
It’s not just the plot though. There’s one scene in particular which made my skin crawl. A woman, who’s clearly been a sex slave all of her life, is obviously terrified and distraught. What does our man Bond do to help? Call in an extract for her? Plan a daring escape? Nope, he just jumps in the shower with her and using the healing powers of his love-making to make it all better. Disgusting.
These issues aren’t even what really bugged me though. My real issue is the constant nods back to the old days of Bond – the guns in the car, Moneypenny coming back, visiting every country in the world, suits for every occasion and every other sly wink at the storied history of Bond.
This is why I’m worried about the future of Bond. Within its 143 minute run time, Skyfall pretty much did away with all of the good groundwork that Casino Royale had laid down. The pared back approach had completely disappeared and all we had left was glimpses of a future where Bond is once again all about gadgets and girls. I’ll admit, Skyfall was very clever as it used only subtle nods rather than anything too on the nose. The worry for me is that the upcoming Spectre will do away with the modicum of subtlety in Skyfall and just start to include all of the old Bond standards of yesteryear.
If this becomes the case, you have to ask yourself whether you really want to see more flashy gadgets and flashier girls again. Do you really want to see megalomaniacs demanding 100 billion dollars? Are you ever going to be ready for another invisible car? The answer to all of these questions has to be a firm no.
This is why Skyfall was such a disaster. It’s not just because it was an incoherent mess of a film (see above) but because of where it is taking the franchise. Rather than moving on from the Bond films of old and creating new and exciting adventures, we’re beginning to slip back into the same old clichés and stories that everyone got tired of.
I truly hope I’m wrong about Bond 24 but if I’m not, you have to ask yourself, is rehashing the old way really the direction you want the franchise to head in?
Ozzy Armstrong is a Stargate and Rocky superfan. Follow him on Twitter.
Listen to the Flicker Myth Podcast’s thoughts on Spectre using the player below: