The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, November 12, 2012


All right, so SKYFALL delivered. No Bond movie (or any movie, for that matter) is perfect. But it definitely takes its place with FRWL, Goldfinger, OHMSS, Spy Who Loved Me and Casino Royale as the best of a remarkable series. The Bond movies have ranged from action-comedy to near tragedy, like episodes of some mega-million dollar television series. The Bond actors have ranged from pretty faces to thuggish killing machines with broken hearts...and I've enjoyed them all. Just want to pause to acknowledge that the Broccolis have done something quite remarkable in keeping this going for 50 years. Pundits and disgruntled fans have been predicting the death, and bemoaning the "obsolescence" of 007 for forty of 'em. I've lost count of the number of conversations I've had where I tried to get someone to explain exactly how Bond is a misogynist. I always thought he was a misanthrope, a barely leashed semi-sociopath who channels his rage into being Her Majesty's biggest fist (and most explicitly in SKYFALL, the teeth of the British Bulldog. Lovely.) He has no real friends, no future, and has lost everything he ever loved--except England herself. And that is where he takes his stand. All the chatty cocktail party conversation, the insane courage, the fast cars, the easy sex and gambling--these are the things guys cling to as wish fulfillment, but no healthy person would actually want to BE Bond. You would never want your own son to experience the pressures that make such a human being. By dialing back the derring-do to a more human scale (it actually took me almost a half hour to realize I was looking at Ian Fleming tempered with Len Deighton, or John Le Carre) we finally grounded the icon in something resembling understandable human emotion. By moving the dial just a tick closer to 3-Dimensionality it was possible to glimpse the tragedy of a man who cannot live for his own future, or any thoughts of home and hearth. Not for him the sunshine. He was born, and will die, in the shadows.

A killing machine who cons bad guys--and apparently, fans around the world--into thinking he is a playboy in a tailored tux. A "fop who can fight." No. He is the world's deadliest commando. Roger Moore was the ideal "outer" Bond. Danial Craig is the perfect "inner" Bond. Moore recently declared straight-up that Craig was the best Bond ever, and the man who played 007 more than anyone else has the right to an opinion. My thought: Craig shows us the actual man. Connery was the actor they hired to play him in the movie. I can imagine Craig's Bond slipping into a theater to watch "Goldfinger" and smiling at Connery's sleek predator, then slipping out before the lights come up. And being grimly amused as he sits in a posh bar later, alone, deciding whether to pick up a blond for the night, or gamble, or just go home and eat some more pain pills. I seriously appreciate that the Broccolis created these three Craig films (although QofS was pretty painful to watch). I'd love to be a fly on the wall during family discussions on their bread and butter over the years. But lacking that, I'm happy that this part of my childhood continues to amuse, entertain and...occasionally...move me. All this time later. Wow.

Happy 50th, 007. Nobody has ever, ever, done it better.  An "A".  For Bond fans like me, an A+.

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