As a long-time watcher of the Bond series, I can’t say I’ve felt sorry for James Bond since the George Lazenby iteration lost his new bride to an evil villain. Bond doesn’t usually inspire sympathy nor empathy. Daniel Craig’s first tilt at the role in Casino Royale saw him bring a detached, almost charmless cold streak to the world’s oldest spy, albeit with some emotion shoehorned into the final scenes. Worse, there was a distinct feeling of playing catch-up in a landscape changed by Jason Bourne. So successful were Matt Damon and co. that I began to wonder whether Bond could ever become relevant or be taken seriously again.
Well, Skyfall has managed it. And more.
Craig has a sense of self-awareness without the camp theatricality of Roger Moore’s eyebrow antics. He looks and feels old for the first time. He’s out of his depth, vulnerable. The anachronism of a old-fashioned spy in a digital age has never been clearer. But I enjoyed how Sam Mendes and the team faced this down with a full scale return to the old-fashioned. It’s partly due to the 50th anniversary celebrations, but nevertheless, Skyfall is a defiant restatement of Bond and his methods. And of course all things British; Union Jacks, Range Rover and Barbour.
Of course Bond isn’t Bond without a diabolical villain (a neat summary from BBC’s Mark Kermode can be found here). Javier Bardem is evilly creepy with just enough pantomime to keep it Bond-like.
Craig is a great Bond, different in style but up there with Sean Connery. The rugged realism feels right and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here. The series is back on track and with an edge it previously lacked.
James Bond will return.