Before actually seeing Skyfall , we weren’t sure exactly what direction Mallory’s arc would take. It certainly seemed possible that he might be the heir to M’s throne, but Fiennes played it with such a frostiness, that you could plausibly think that he was Blofeld reborn, the head of Quantum, or some other nefarious type.
This tension comes to a head in the scene in which Mallory sneaks up on Q and Tanner, who are sorting out a ‘fake’ breadcrumb trail to ensure that Silva follows Bond to Scotland.
For a split-second, it really seems as if Mallory might be about to drop an almighty twist into the proceedings, before he reveals that he’s actually a pretty decent guy, with a smart, practical mind for espionage. Phew.
Catching The Tube
Getting to-me-to-you advice from Q down his earpiece, Bond almost misses the train that’s facilitating Silva’s escape.
In an echo of the leap he makes to catch the Shanghai elevator with Patrice, Bond throws himself full-throttle onto the back of the moving train in the nick of time, living the dream of frustrated commuters everywhere.
The gag the old man cracks to his wife verges on the cringey, but Craig makes up for it with his deadpan delivery to the train operator. His disgruntled “Open the door”, delivered with an expression of exasperation that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s ever used public transport, followed by an apathetic cover story: “Health and safety.”
Bonds Scottish Roots
In the spirit of Bond’s 50th anniversary celebrations, it seems only fitting that the production should hark back to the character’s roots, and his first official movie portrayal by Sir Sean Connery.
Although this does touch upon a Scottish ancestry mentioned in some of Fleming’s work, the author only incorporated that element after Connery had played Bond, closing the adaptation loop.
As well as the Connery connection, the Shining -style drive up to the remote wilds of the highlands detaches the character from any contemporary, cultural concerns, giving the final showdown something of an elemental quality.
James Bond does get put through the wringer in Skyfall . As the trailer attested, he’s shot from the top of a train that’s barrelling across a bridge in Turkey, falling to his presumed watery death. And that’s before the credits have even rolled.
Demonstrating stone-cold discipline, M refuses to let sentimentality cloud a business decision, even though her prodigal (work) son is in the firing line, she still demands that Eve risks taking the shot.
In an impressive touch, Mendes keeps a stark dichotomy between the dreary MI6 offices and the vibrant Istanbul market, until the London rain, beating down on the window, blends in with the Istanbul waterfall, before segueing smoothly into the opening sequence.
Check Your Mirrors
There’s a danger of Eve being bullied by Bond, overpowered by his brutish masculine ways.
But while 007 won’t let her forget that she shot him, and is evidently happy to see her sat behind her desk, she can more than hold her own in the field.
When she loses a mirror on the 4x4 during at the start of the Istanbul pursuit, Bond chastises her with a typically blokey, backseat driver comment, “You weren’t using it anyway,” before she rebuffs him by purposefully and expertly dispatching the one on the other side, “I wasn’t using that one either.”
Fair play for shutting up Bond, and a sign of her precision when in a tight spot (later evidenced in the courtroom shootout).
Put It All On Red
Not that Bond’s going to allow Eve to completely dictate their relationship in the field though.
The pair are sparking nicely through some ear-piece banter in the Macau casino, before Bond’s lays eyes on Sévérine, and puts a prompt ending on their communication by dumping his ear-piece into Eve’s champagne.
It seems you can teach an old dog new tricks, although he’ll still tear up the garden from time to time. Still, she gets to help him out of a sticky spot again as he emerges from the Komodo dragon’s lair, and gets a whole bunch of chips to put on red…
007 Reporting For Duty
Many of Skyfall ’s most explosive moments don’t rely on pyrotechnics, instead choosing to zero in on character interactions that have often go unexplored throughout Bond’s movie history.
Take the sequence in M’s flat, for instance. Bond returns from ‘the dead’, and initially appears cloaked in shadow (and when he steps into the light, he’s clearly a shadow of his former self).
During the course of their reacquaintance, barbs are traded between the testy pair. Again, it’s telling that M won’t even allow Bond to kip for a night at her house, despite everything that’s happened.
Perhaps the most intriguing nugget of info from the entire exchange though, is the reference to Bond’s flat (which has now been sold, given that he’s presumed dead). Is it just us, or is it unfathomably odd trying to imagine Bond with a permanent place of residence? We bet there’s a revolving bed in there somewhere.
The Return Of The Aston Martin
The Aston Martin DB5 returns in one of Skyfall ’s most crowdpleasing moments. Taking M to his garage so that can trade their government vehicle for one that’ll be more difficult to trace.
The unmistakeable musical theme kicks in as Bond flicks on the lights (surely an innovation that DB5 owners need to work into their garage lightswitches), and reveals the trusty steed he first rode in Goldfinger .
Bearing the same registration plates as the vehicle in that Sean Connery outing, it still features the ejector button, and later reveals that the pop-out machine guns are still fully-functioning.
It’s painful to see it destroyed by Silva’s goons during the raid on Skyfall lodge, and it almost seems as if it’s the final straw that really kicks Bond into action.
Maybe it’s not a total loss though, as M had previous dubbed Bond’s iconic ride “not very comfortable.” Damning words indeed.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins’ contribution to Skyfall can’t be overstated. From the very first moment, you realise that this is going to look like no other Bond film that’s come before it.
As first two notes from the inimitable theme tune blare out, sharply and concisely, Bond stalks the back of the frame, out of focus, shrouded in shadow.
The visual effect gives an almost alien look to Bond’s posture and gait, his spindly limbs bringing to mind the animated intro to any number of ‘60s capers.
When he reaches the end of the corridor, a crack of light illuminates his eyes only. Pure class.
Put Your Back Into It
The base-bound presence of Q was one of a number of Skyfall elements that got us particularly excited about the next two installments, with Whishaw’s geek genius providing the perfect foil for Craig’s sullen secret agent.
A nagging voice in 007’s ear, Q provides a bit of odd-couple friction, even though the gadget-master’s never likely to actually show up in the field, you know, in person.
With Bond trying to open an emergency exit on the London Underground line, the urgency heightened by an oncoming train, Skyfall revisits a Bond staple that hasn’t been aired during Craig’s tenure: the mixing of some humour into a tense action beat.
Craig 1. Door 0.