Bond takes M to Scotland-specifically, to the highlands, and his ancestral home, Skyfall manor. There’s some fantastic shots here of the Scottish mountains in Glencoe (Although most of the manor action itself was shot near England). The mountains are a part of Bond’s past as well, in a sense; his parents were killed in a climbing accident. Although where is never stated in the movies (but the death is alluded to a few times), the books have it happen in Chamonix, France. Nevertheless, the death is brought up, as well as Bond being an orphan, something also mentioned in “Casino Royale”-
M: Is this where you grew up?
M: How old were you when they died?
James Bond: You know the answer to that. You know the whole story.
M: Orphans always make the best recruits.
Bond’s Scottish ancestry was written fairly late into the books, and mainly because Ian Fleming had become fond of the actor who had played Bond: A Scotsman by the name of Sean Connery.
Bond arrives at the manor where he’s greeted by the groundskeeper Willie Kincade. Some fans feel that the role was actually meant for Connery, but there’s a few problems with the that theory-Connery has pretty much been retired since 2003’s flop The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Although he did come out of retirement to do voices for two productions, 1) Reprising Bond one more time for the “From Russia With Love” video game,
But then he did this oddity the same year “Skyfall” came out….
But either way, he was pretty much done with live acting.
Albert Finney-who was famous for his role as Scrooge, Tom Jones, Annie’s “Daddy Warbucks” and others-is more than adequate. He, Bond and James ‘arm’ the house, setting up with traps. Some draw comparisons to the Home Alone films-in which a kid, left in his house alone, must defend his house from burglars-but this is kind of a thin comparison really (and those traps are mainly comic relief anyway, while many of these are lethal.) Meanwhile, Mallory, Q and Tanner discreetly plant ‘breadcrumbs’ to lure Silva to Skyfall.
Then it’s time for the final confrontation-a more stripped down one, where there’s really no big enemy fortresses, just Skyfall manor. Although the first wave of Silva’s men are taken out by the traps and the group of three, Silva’s not among them, and he makes a big announcement: A big helicopter blasting out an animals song: “Boom Boom” (a lyric Silva seems fond of, as he was playing an old french tone with a similar lyric: “Boum”). M also gets shot, but she keeps that from Bond.
Silva’s attack is certainly more damaging-pretty much leaving Skyfall in flames while Bond, M and Kincade try to escape to a nearby church. Bond’s Aston Martin is also destroyed, an act which prompts Bond to take out Silva’s helicopter in return. Touche’.
Silva’s still on the trail though. Bond nearly gets drowned again-and sealed!-in a nearby ice lake, but this time he’s got the gun and is able to shoot his way out after getting rid of Silva’s man.
Silva and M finally face off in a final show off, where he urges her to finish them both off. However, Bond throws a knife into his back, the first time he’s really killed the film’s main villain in the Craig films (Although there are a few instances where he didn’t in the earlier films-Blofeld was never really killed off until “For Your Eyes Only” after he appeared in three other Bond films, in “From Russia With Love” and “Thunderball” he was actually saved by the girl, and “Goldfinger” was in part due to his own stupidity)
However, he’s far too late to save M, although she remarks that she’s one thing she did right. And so Judi Dench’s M says goodbye to the Bond films (apart from a small cameo in SPECTRE). Technically, Bond has failed in his mission to protect M, although he at least has gotten rid of Silva.
Back in London, we get a great shot as Bond looks over his city. Skyfall is probably the most London-centric of the Bond films, although “For Your Eyes Only” “The World Is Not Enough” “Die Another Day” and the upcoming “Spectre” also featured London action and locations-it was not to this extent.
He’s given something left behind by M-her union jack bulldog paperweight and he finally learns Eve’s full name-Eve Moneypenny-and she’s standing down from field work to take a desk job as Mallory’s secretary….
and Mallory of course, is now the new M, with the office closely resembling that used by Bernard Lee and Robert Brown in the earlier films. The painting is symbolic-while the earlier painting in the museum symbolized an old ship being towed away, this one shows a ship ready for action-and certainly Bond is.
M So, 007… Lots to be done. Are you ready to get back to work?
James Bond: With pleasure, M. With pleasure.
Cue theme and Gunbarrel. Although it’s still not at the beginning of the film (although there’s a similar shot as I stated at the beginning of the review) the Gunbarrel is not quite as rushed looking here, and Bond’s pose here is a bit more “Connery style” than before.
Although I seriously doubt Bond will ever wear that hat again.
Overall, “Skyfall” is a return to form for the series after the dissiapointing Quantum of Solace. it also is one of the best shot Bond films along with “Spy Who Loved Me” in my opinion, and maintains the same balance of drama and action that made Casino Royale great. It does bring back some of the tropes-Moneypenny and Q-but makes them much fresher, and it still breaks with tradition a bit, by not really having a major Bond girl-Eve never gets into a romantic relationship with Bond (Of course, since she’s moneypenny and their platonic, flirty relationship is one of the most unbreakable Bond things) and Severine doesn’t really do that much anyway. In fact, in a way M is sort of the Bond girl this time, as she’s pretty much the focus of the film apart from Bond himself…and it’s a nice send-off for her.
Next, we dwelve into SPECTRE. The organization was a constant thorn in the side for Bond in the 60s and early 70s, but then-along with it’s leader, Bond arch-enemy Ernest Stravro Blofeld-it vanished entirely, with the films focusing more on the drug trade, cold war spy games, and madmen who wanted to build cities under water or the sea. This was due to a complicated rights issue involving Thunderball, the novel in which SPECTRE first appeared (Although it made it’s film debut with Bond in Dr.No) that also affected the films, leading to THUNDERBALL being adapted twice. However, around the time SKYFALL was released, these rights were settled, and SPECTRE could now return to Bond-and would do so in a way that would connect all of Craig’s films. However, this is with decidely mixed results, as we’ll see later…