A dead body slumped in a chair. A car windshield smashed in. A motorcycle chase on the rooftops of a grand bazaar. Gunshots. Car crashes. A bulldozer flattens cars like ants. Two men fight on top of a moving train. A man falls.
And that non-stop action is all within the first 10 minutes of the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall.” Following Bond’s “death” — when Agent Eve (Naomie Harris) accidently shoots Bond after M (Judi Dench) orders her to shoot a moving target on top of a train, Bond (Daniel Craig) returns when a new threat hacks into the MI6 headquarters: Silva (Javier Bardem) is a former MI6 agent seeking vengeance from M for her failure to rescue him from captivity.
Airing 50 years after the first Bond film, “Dr. No,” “Skyfall” is the 23rd Bond film and the third to star Daniel Craig as James Bond. While like the previous Bond films, “Skyfall” also features beautiful women, elaborate stunts, and fancy cars and new gadgets, “Skyfall” also deals with Bond’s mortality.
As the movie begins, Bond is bleeding with his white collared shirt drenched in blood from a growing bullet wound on his upper torso. After Bond returns from death, we see him sweating as he is performing pulls ups. We see him gasping for breath after swimming laps in a pool in Shanghai. And we realize that James Bond is an old dinosaur — with a grayish-white stubble on his chin.
Meanwhile the new MI6 headquarters for the newest spies resemble an Apple store — a brightly lit room with tables lined with computers.
If physical appearance wasn’t enough to contrast the different generations, screenplay writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan make sure to emphasize this point with dialogue. “It’s a young man’s game,” Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) reminds Bond.
“A great old war ship, being ignominiously hauled away for scrap. The inevitability of time, don’t you think?” a young technology-savvy Quartermaster (Ben Whishaw) tells Bond.
Whereas the Quartermaster claims he can “do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field,” cyber warfare doesn’t look as epic as exploding houses or narrow escapes from death. As someone criticizes M and her MI6 agents, “It’s as if you insist on pretending we still live in a golden age of espionage.”
The writers and producers would do well to heed the words of their own script. While director Sam Mendes’ James Bond film resembles the action-spy films of the past, it’s only a matter of time before the audience will grow bored of exploding pens or transmitter radios. Although the film does lay out dynamite like a game of dominos — and it is entertaining to watch the spectacular explosions — the fireworks fizzle out with time and you find that you’re still unsatisfied and sitting in the dark.
“Skyfall” was directed by Sam Mendes and written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, based on Ian Fleming’s books.