Still Gets All The Action
As James Bond
By Jessica Sanchez
> Over the past 50 years, the list of things men will never get tired of looking at hasn’t changed much; hot women, exotic cars and explosions are still at the top, which is probably why the exciting exploits of James Bond continue to be the vicarious life of choice for men around the world. Even though he drinks martinis and has an uncanny sense of fashion, he still manages to retain enough machismo to get the hottest girl in the bar every time!
The very first Bond movie came out in 1962 and there have been 22 remakes and sequels ever since, making James Bond the longest running film franchise in history. During that time he has survived 4,662 shots fired at him, according to statisticians who were likely procrastinating on their real work. So the newest “007” movie, Skyfall, is under enormous pressure to be even James Bond-ier than the others.
As is typical with the Bond series, Skyfall won’t directly reference events in the previous film, and details on Skyfall appear to be classified; the filmmakers are treating the script like a top-secret spy mission and keeping most of the juicy details under wraps. Even 007 himself would be hard-pressed to gather much info until the film is released this November. Filmmakers won’t even explain the meaning of the movie title (“It has a number of meanings,” is all Craig would say). Of course, that isn’t stopping them from holding dozens of cryptic press conferences and interviews in which they somehow manage to build excitement for the film without really letting you know what to get excited about. It’s been a frustrating but effective form of PR.
From what we can tell, Bond fans will be treated to the typical kaleidoscope of murderous villains, high-octane thrills and fiery explosions with what I’m sure will be an unusually high number of scattering pigeons to add to the chaos. The main backdrop is London, but in Bond’s typical globetrotting fashion, fans will journey with their hero to Istanbul, Turkey, Shanghai and Scotland as well. And, as always, the film will feature women whose beauty and brains are preposterously well matched. But this time around leading lady Naomie Harris says she’s more than just a “Bond girl,” her role as a capable and skilled field agent puts her at the center of many action scenes alongside Craig.
“It’s so nerve-wracking,” Harris said at a roundtable interview in May. “Doing the whole stunts thing is absolutely terrifying because it suddenly becomes so technical and so hugely pressurized. If you imagine you’re doing a scene where you’ve got to shoot someone and bits of the scenery collapse and someone has to jump through a window - that’s massive resetting time if you don’t get it right.”
“Some people sometimes forget in the cliché of Bond,” Mendes said, “which is the international playboy, and someone who’s always untroubled, and almost never breaks a sweat. Actually what (Fleming) created was a very conflicted character.”
We have also managed to learn that there will be a few unusual twists that might leave fans feeling both shaken and stirred. The first one is a subtle, but unusual deviation from the dapper, sophisticated image of Bond; he’ll be substituting his trademark martini with a good ol’ fashioned manly beer. A Heineken, to be exact. This isn’t meant to be some kind of masculinizing character development; it’s just that Heineken paid a TON of money for some extraordinarily clever product placement. Looks like Guinness missed a big marketing opportunity. The second change is a much bigger deviation from Bond‘s image because one of the villains he wrestles with will be his own inner demons. For the first time the confident and debonair spy will take movie-goers on a journey into his own troubled psyche as he struggles with the fact that, well, he kills people for a living. And he’s obnoxiously good at it.
“I’ve always been interested in that side of him,” says Craig. “I think that it’s interesting to sort of play the emotion of everything that you see on screen. It’s not to say this movie’s become a piece of drama. I think what (director Sam Mendes) has done is cast it in a way that means that we just have fabulously interesting characters to watch and be entertained by, and that their interaction is what the movie’s about. He’s a killer, that’s what he does for a living. To have a conscience about that I think is interesting.”
Most Bond movies have overlooked this internal psychoanalysis and have chosen instead to focus on a 007 whose action-packed spy missions were enhanced with outrageous gadgets, special effects and extras who have perfected the “staring on in horror” look, but for people who have read the original James Bond novels by author Ian Fleming the idea of a conscious-burdened Bond is nothing new. At a press conference earlier this year, Mendes pointed out that Fleming created a character that was sometimes frustrated, depressed and ambivalent about his job. “Some people sometimes forget in the cliché of Bond,” Mendes said, “which is the international playboy, and someone who’s always untroubled, and almost never breaks a sweat. Actually what (Fleming) created was a very conflicted character.” Mendes added that Daniel is an actor capable of portraying a character with such conflicting emotions. Craig reread Bond novels as part of his preparation for Skyfall, and spoke to intelligence agents about their work to get an idea of the hardships they face. Let’s just hope we don’t have to sit through a scene of 007 sitting in a therapist’s office like Tony Soprano, waxing poetic about the terrorist he just threw in front of a speeding commuter train while reflecting on his Oedipus complex.
Judi Dench will return as spy chief M, and much of the movie’s plot twist centers around her waning relationship with Bond; it is put to the test when her past comes back to haunt her. When asked to explain, Craig answered in the typically evasive manner we’ve come to expect, “It’s just grown. It’s just growing, and that’s what’s great.”
Mendes added, “We’ve gone further into their relationship and, without giving too much away, I think something interesting happened.” Thanks, Sam.
Skyfall, the 23rd Bond film, hits theaters in the U.S. on November 9th. <