Skyfail, or Welcome to Scotland the Dark Bond Rises


If EON was watching the Bourne series while writing QOS, then they were certainly watching the Dark Knight series while writing Skyfall! This is just meant to touch on the highlights or should I say lowlights of this movie, because to call out everything wrong with it would take ages. Please feel free to add your least favorite parts of this “film” below.

First we open on a dark hallway and once again no gun barrel walk, because according to Mendez it would have ruined the artistic quality of the shot, god forbid you compromise the art of your ACTION film. I guess the MGM and Colombia Pictures logos didn’t compromise his artistic vision as they were right at the start. Anyway after the production logos a dark bow legged figure, in a suit that fits like a sausage casing approaches from a dimly lit hallway, and lo and behold it’s Craig sporting a ridiculous buzz cut. He finds an agent injured in the next room, and moves on to find a hard drive is missing, which contains a list of all the undercover agents working for the west. What Craig is doing there or why oh why a list of all agents exists, let alone why it is on a hard drive in Istanbul is never explained. Were they buying the drive? Selling it? Sitting around drinking tea while looking to see what all their friends in the espionage community were up to these days? Craig shows some uncharacteristic concern for the downed agent (especially since he dumped the last one in a garbage can in Bolivia) when micromanaging M orders him to go. So Craig blunders into the streets of Istanbul and into a Land Rover driven by agent “Eve”. A chase ensues and we combine the roof top and motorbike chase from Bourne Ultimatum in to one sequence. I can’t in good conscience skip over that at one point “Eve” who is 98 pounds soaking wet punches the windows out of her Land Rover so she can continue the chase. We end up on top of a train, and Craig is shot through a tractor window, fights with cardboard cutout bad guy, and long story short “Eve” shoots Craig off the train. I also must point out that throughout this sequence and the entire movie in fact everyone refers to M as ma’am in such a way it comes out mum, coincidence? I think not. This leads into the title sequence.

Now I must admit the theme song wasn't too bad, however the visuals are macabre and confused. After watching animated daggers fall and morph into skulls we find M getting a talking to by a “high ranking government official”. Spoiler alert it’s the new M. After a convoluted plot point about cryptology and gas leaks involving an explosion at MI6, we find Craig still alive and involved in a vulgar sex act already in progress. Despite living in a beach front resort Craig is disturbingly pale and sporting an odd grey/blond beard which makes him look older if that could be possible. Ghostly Craig goes to drink a shot with a scorpion on his hand, and after the crowd dissipates catches CNN on the flat screen T.V. behind him. Did I mention he was in a 3rd world dive bar, yet CNN is playing on a T.V. nicer than mine. After seeing that MI6 was attacked, Craig remembers he has a duty to Queen and country and jets off to England. Now during this time he was “dead” how did he live? How did he buy his scotch? Buy the mysterious pills he took but never again used after his return home? Buy his clothes etc.? These questions are never answered.

We find Craig in M’s apartment mumbling about death and duty and blah, blah, blah, whatever. Why does he care now? At the beginning of the film, he was after the list of agents that could ruin all western espionage as we know it. Once he was shot he forgot all about it, and played dead for 3 months. Then once M’s office is blown up he cares again? Anyway, apparently after 3 months of bumming around a beach front resort one’s body is useless, because the world’s most deadly and efficient secret agent is now so much dead weight. Yes after one mission, remember the last two movies, when supposedly “Bond became Bond” we now have an old, over the hill geezer who should be in a retirement home rather than fighting the enemies of the free world. After a bunch of pull ups, running on a treadmill, and some word association games he carves the bullet from his chest, because he knows it will somehow lead to the man leaking the information. Funny how that bullet left a massive scar and yet no sign of the wound left by Eve’s fateful shot that knocked him from the train. Some nihilistic mumbling about duty and what not and we meet the new effeminate “Q”. Some awkward dialogue about a “bloody big ship” some week “gadgets” and we’re off to china… or so you think.

The second unit photography crew went to China; however all of the shooting locations were in the comfortable confines of London. The only scenes the principle cast filmed outside of England (not counting the pre titles sequence) occur in Scotland. Some shots of the Shanghai skyline, Craig swimming in the roof top pool of a London, I mean Shanghai hotel, a blue lit highway, then we’re in front of a local London, I mean Shanghai office building. The assassin Craig is trailing kills two security guards to gain access to the office building he plans to use to kill an art buyer. Craig watches as he cuts the window glass on an empty floor of the building, assembles his rifle, and kills his target. Now why did they need such a complicated scheme to kill this guy? Everyone in the room with the target was in on the hit. Why not have one of THEM blow this guy’s brains out IN the room, rather than a sniper do it from across the street? This caused breaking glass and a bigger mess and would draw more attention. Once again Craig screws it up and his lead slips away literally, as we watch the assassin fall 15 stories to his death with lights flashing in the background and we are supposed to be dazzled. The cardboard cutout “Bond Girl" catches a glimpse of Craig and he disappears, if only it were forever.

Craig finds a casino chip in the assassin’s luggage and decides a quick bath and shave are in order before moving on. “Eve” shows up inexplicably to shave that ridiculous bit of glorified 5 o’clock shadow off his face and swap double entendres. Supposedly a deleted scene exists, which makes it quite clear there was no “inappropriate contact” between the two, if that matters to anybody, but at this point I doubt it does.

Some more double entendres at the casino and Craig meets Severene the cutout Bond girl face to face, who between her black dress, black makeup, and black nail polish, looks likes Mortisha Adams. They share some “deep dialogue” about her lover, the man Craig is after and Shanghai sex houses. He agrees to meet her on her boat if he survives her “body guards” who are there to kill him. Craig takes part in a stilted fight scene involving CGI “dragons” and makes his way to rendezvous with the girl. Craig accosts her in the shower in a scene that’s more rapey than romantic.

Next we find Craig standing proudly on the deck of the ship heading into the villain’s lair, not very clandestine. Did he think the crew was going to be ok with his stowing away? Why is he surprised when they load up their guns and drag him and his new found friend off to their doom?

Craig is tied to a chair and now in walks the joker… er I mean Silva the main villain. Silva has wild brightly colored hair, a big (and we find out later damaged) mouth, and an effeminate accent. You know, nothing like the joker. Silva’s entrance is made while making a speech about rats and oil drums and islands. He moves on to his disdain for MI6 and M. Silva starts fondling Craig, who doesn’t seem too concerned and insinuates he’s done this sort of thing before. This is especially odd since Mendes and Logan have said this was supposed to be a very uncomfortable situation for Craig’s Bond. Mendes and Logan state this is in reference to the novel The Man with the Golden Gun, which I must admit I haven’t read in a while, but I don’t remember Bond getting fondled by Scaramanga anywhere in that book. Now that Craig’s quip has made Silva titter like a school girl he is forced to “save” the doomed Severene by shooting a glass off her head. He fails miserably, because “he’s lost his edge”. Silva kills the girl and in a moment of "sentimentality" Craig quips what a waste of good scotch it was. Suddenly Craig’s “edge” comes rushing back as he disarms and kills all of Silva’s henchmen. Why didn’t he do that 30 seconds earlier, maybe he could have kept his promise and saved the girl? Oh well.

Silva is scooped up and placed in a Hannibal Lector cage. “Q” tries to unlock Silva’s hard drive by plugging it directly into MI6’s mainframe, good move! Craig is somehow able to figure out Silva’s security protocols better that the tech genius Q and unlocks the hard drive, thus contaminating the entire MI6 mainframe! So anyway thanks to their blundering Silva has now “hacked” MI6 and is able to escape, so he can kill M at a Parliamentary hearing. Apparently this was all part of his plan! Not at all like the Joker in the second Dark knight! Craig follows Silva into the underground of London, where they play cat and mouse. Silva drops a tube train on Craig, because he knew just where he would catch up with him and that a train would be coming along at that precise moment. Long story short M pretentiously quotes Tennyson, Craig disrupts Silva’s complex plan and absconds with M.

They decide the best course of action is to run off alone, an old woman and an “over the hill” agent, to face Silva and his army of henchmen. Not the SAS, a couple dozen MI6 agents,or even a Boy Scout Troop, nope just the two of them. Craig is somehow in possession of the DB5 from Goldfinger complete with gadgets, despite that mission not occurring yet if the “reboot” is to be believed. Not to mention even if it had, it would belong to MI6 not Bond. They make it out to Wayne Manor… er I mean Skyfall Lodge, Bruce Wayn… Bond’s “ancestral” home. Where they meet Alfred oops I mean Kincaid, Craig’s butler, I mean gamekeeper guardian. Craig displays some feats of marksmanship despite supposedly not being able to hit the broadside of a barn just days before.

They plucky little band make like the A-Team and concoct some booby traps worthy of Home Alone. Kincaid tells M about the night Bruce Wayne’s parents died and how he hid in the Bat I mean Bond cave and another origin story is born or should I say Bourne. The first wave of Silva’s men show up, Craig guns down half of them with the DB5’s machine guns and the rest are taken care of Macaulay Culkin style. All of this is done in such pitch black photography it’s amazing anyone is able to see it. M catches a round in her hip, and then Silva makes his grand entrance in a full blown military helicopter. Where he got it and how he could fly it though British airspace without a challenge is beyond me. More shooting and gun fighting ensue and Craig sends the geriatric duo to the Bond Cave. Some more skulking around in the dark and Craig blows up Wayne Manor just like in the first Dark Knight film.

Kincaid who is an experienced hunter, and should know the terrain like the back of his hand needs a flashlight to get to the little chapel nearby. This gives away his position to Silva who quickly catches up to them. Craig “saves” M before Silva can kill her just so she can die anyway in his arms, how touching. So now with Craig having utterly failed in his mission we find him standing Batman style on the roof of a London office building, as if he’s the master of all he surveys. Eve comes up to fetch him and they return to her office where surprise! It turns out we were also watching the Moneypenny origin story! A little fan service in the design of the new M’s office, looking like the original M’s office, and we get the gun barrel walk at the end.

  4 comments for “Skyfail, or Welcome to Scotland the Dark Bond Rises

  1. Great review of this incredibly overrated movie. One of the annoying scenes in this movie is when Daniel Craig fights a sniper in a Chinese high-rise building. The lighting is so dark that it’s difficult to make out who is who. No doubt director Sam Mendes wanted to make this scene “artistic” with the neon backdrop but it just doesn’t work as an action scene. This for me sums up the movie’s approach of artistic style over substance. And if Mendes wanted to make movie look fantastic, why shoot the the last third of the movie in the gloom? There are many absurdities in this movie, as you have pointed out.

    • Hello Gareth, I am humbled by your kind words, thank you. I’m also humbled you reached so far back into the archives to read this essay. If you haven’t already and have the time, I suggest you check out the SPECTRE Introspection, my multi-part dissection of that film. I also suggest you check out the forum if you haven’t yet.

      You are absolutely correct that Mendez put form far ahead of function in his films. Though it is obvious he was phoning it in on SPECTRE, I assume he felt it a waste of his artistic elan working on this “Punch and Judy show” as Waltz called it. Mendez’ flashy style works with the arty “character study” (read no story) films he’s known for but an action movie filmed in the dark falls flat on it’s face!

      • Hi DB, yes, ‘Skyfall’ has just been shown on tv over here and ‘Spectre’ is soon to be aired. I’ll check out your posts on ‘Spectre’ after watching it.
        Watching ‘Skyfall’ again, the amount of plot holes, and moments where the story doesn’t hold up to closer inspection, is remarkable. You mentioned a lot of them in your post. I do wonder why the director and producers didn’t go back to the writers and say “this needs more work, guys”. I’m not sure a director like Martin Campbell, for example, or a producer like Cubby Broccoli would have accepted the script as it was.

        • Thank you for the kind words Gareth. Yes, the plot of Skyfall has more holes than a Swiss cheese sieve that has been stomped on by razor sharp golf cleats, but I digress. I doubt Campbell or especially Cubby would have accepted such tripe as they actually gave a damn.

          I look forward to your input on my take on SPECTRE, bear in mind it is a 15 part dissection and may take you as long to read it as watch the film, which runs on for quite some time, so be advised.

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