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Revisiting "Skyfall"


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#1 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 08:51 AM

I am a SKYFALL apologist.

 

I loved the film when I saw it for the first time, and the subsequent times I still liked it a lot but had some quibbles with it.

 

Now, rewatching it again after - oh, almost two years - I concentrated on all those "plot holes" that the film gets criticized for.  And you know what?  The key word is "elipsis" (and isn´t that a sly nod to "Casino Royale"?)  I´m sure I can´t persuade anyone to see it my way (although, isn´t that what internet forums are for, damnit?).  But really, I think I can explain away everything that might raise eyebrows.

 

Not that that´s important.  At least not if you cannot enjoy the film because of its tendency to tell its story with just the essentials, leaving room for thought and insecurity - which only fits with its basic theme.

 

When I praise SKYFALL, it´s because of so many things: 

 

- Roger Deakins´ cinematography

- the editing that has a perfect rhythm and creates wonderful transitions

- Javier Bardem who creates one of the best if not THE best villain in Bond history

- Thomas Newman´s score

- the whole cast

 

... and, of course, once again Daniel Craig who really has become James Bond and is able to show a weakness and sadness in the character that has not been portrayed before.  I guess this has to be credited, like the rest, to Sam Mendes.  And watching SKYFALL again, I acknowledge his abilities and look forward to SPECTRE with renewed hope.  As for SKYFALL: to make another James Bond film so compelling is not easy at all, only to be achieved by true masters.

 

 



#2 New Digs

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 07:36 PM

I just can't get excited about this film. I appreciate it's qualities: editing; cinematography; cast and direction etc. I also enjoy watching it, but I can't connect with it and don't really get what makes the film so seemingly brilliant. It has good moments: the opening scene with Bardem was masterful as he walked into the camera as was Dench in the enquiry scene. I loved Bond running down Whitehall as well. But overall it was too downbeat. Craig's Bond should have enjoyed himself just a bit more. A few scenes like Bond parking the car in the Bahamas in CR and throwing away the keys were badly missing from the film. Bond should be the epitome of cinematic cool and not down in the dumps for the entirety of the movie dealing with things like age, physicality and the death of his boss and fellow agents. In terms of story not much surprised me, but then again that might be because the trailers gave most of it away.
I missed the stunts, visual spectacle and general sense of 'epicness' that I think a Bond film should provide.

#3 Call Billy Bob

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 07:37 PM

I am a SKYFALL apologist.
 
I loved the film when I saw it for the first time, and the subsequent times I still liked it a lot but had some quibbles with it.
 
Now, rewatching it again after - oh, almost two years - I concentrated on all those "plot holes" that the film gets criticized for.  And you know what?  The key word is "elipsis" (and isn´t that a sly nod to "Casino Royale"?)  I´m sure I can´t persuade anyone to see it my way (although, isn´t that what internet forums are for, damnit?).  But really, I think I can explain away everything that might raise eyebrows.
 
Not that that´s important.  At least not if you cannot enjoy the film because of its tendency to tell its story with just the essentials, leaving room for thought and insecurity - which only fits with its basic theme.
 
When I praise SKYFALL, it´s because of so many things: 
 
- Roger Deakins´ cinematography
- the editing that has a perfect rhythm and creates wonderful transitions
- Javier Bardem who creates one of the best if not THE best villain in Bond history
- Thomas Newman´s score
- the whole cast
 
... and, of course, once again Daniel Craig who really has become James Bond and is able to show a weakness and sadness in the character that has not been portrayed before.  I guess this has to be credited, like the rest, to Sam Mendes.  And watching SKYFALL again, I acknowledge his abilities and look forward to SPECTRE with renewed hope.  As for SKYFALL: to make another James Bond film so compelling is not easy at all, only to be achieved by true masters.

You hit the nail on the head here, SAF!

#4 David_M

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 07:44 PM

I had mixed feelings about Skyfall on first viewing and still feel the same: it's a big step up from QoS but a definite second to CR.  

 

Agree the score is a VERY welcome break from David Arnold (who I was done with by TWINE) and although I have my doubts it'd work for me as a standalone listening experience on CD, it certainly works in the context of the film.  And the theme song is easily the best since LALD, maybe GF.  

 

Bardem is awesome, but I think it's going a bit far to suggest he's the best in Bond history.  Not with the likes of Robert Shaw, Gert Frobe and Joseph Wiseman in the mix.  I put him in a category with Walken and Brandauer as "off  his nut scenery chewer," the kind of character you can't wait to see another scene with, but just a hair's breadth away from camp.  Actually the best analog would probably be Montalban's Khan.

 

No arguments that the cinematography is aces.  This is probably the best-looking Bond since Moonraker.

 

That said, the plot fails my number 1 test for all films, and that is: does the illogic get in the way of my first viewing?  I've seen plenty of films that I realize make no sense only after I'm halfway home in the car (or on my second viewing), and a LOT of them are Bonds, but when I'm sitting there the first go round thinking, "How is THAT possible?" or "Now why on Earth would he do THAT?" then there's a problem.

 

The biggest issue for me is that this is the first film where we've seen Bond outright FAIL.  We've ended on a downbeat before, with Tracy's death, but he was a clear victim, there.  We've seen him screw up before, but never in his main mission and he always redeemed himself at the end.  In Skyfall, he has one job:  protect M.  And he muffs it.  This is hard for me to get over (and I'm NOT saying that because I had any attachment to Dame Judi.  At all.).

 

The other thing that occurred to me recently is that all the Craig films sort of HAVE to be "personal," because otherwise, we'd never care.  Once upon a time, Bond saved the entire world on a bi-annual basis, and while that gets ridiculous after awhile, it still made for high stakes.  So far, Craig's missions have had extremely low stakes, to wit:

 

CR: stop terrorists from winning a poker game

QoS: stop a secretive cabal from controlling a large percentage (not even ALL) of Bolivia's water supply

SF: stop a rogue agent from killing M (mission failed)*

 

If that's the most important jobs they're going to put 007 on, it's kind of vital to add a personal angle to make us care at all.

 

Is Deakins coming back for SPECTRE? If so, I'm more excited about that than Mendes.  Also, from the photos I've seen so far, Craig looks 150% better with a decent haircut.  Not sure whether the teaser poster counts as some folks think it's been Photoshopped, but that's about the best I've ever seen Craig look, period (though he's still #6 out of 6 in the looks dept).

 

 

 

* I actually considered another mission was to prevent the theft of a list of agents, but that mission also fails, and in the first 10 minutes, so I won't count it.



#5 tdalton

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Posted 02 June 2015 - 08:19 PM

 

Is Deakins coming back for SPECTRE? 

 

 

 

He's not.  Hoyte van Hoytema is handling things this time around.



#6 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 07:00 AM

The biggest issue for me is that this is the first film where we've seen Bond outright FAIL.  We've ended on a downbeat before, with Tracy's death, but he was a clear victim, there.  We've seen him screw up before, but never in his main mission and he always redeemed himself at the end.  In Skyfall, he has one job:  protect M.  And he muffs it.  This is hard for me to get over (and I'm NOT saying that because I had any attachment to Dame Judi.  At all.).

 

So far, Craig's missions have had extremely low stakes, to wit:

 

CR: stop terrorists from winning a poker game

QoS: stop a secretive cabal from controlling a large percentage (not even ALL) of Bolivia's water supply

SF: stop a rogue agent from killing M (mission failed)*

 

If that's the most important jobs they're going to put 007 on, it's kind of vital to add a personal angle to make us care at all.

 

* I actually considered another mission was to prevent the theft of a list of agents, but that mission also fails, and in the first 10 minutes, so I won't count it.

 

I respectfully disagree.

 

CR: Bond´s mission is to learn more about the terrorist organization which is behind "ELIPSIS" meaning the planned attack on the plane (which Bond successfully stops) and then to get LeChiffre by winning the poker game and the millions of money involved so that the terrorist organization will lose that money (which Bond succeeds at, too) and suffer from the intel LeChiffre can give.

 

QOS: Bond is going after the terrorist organization Le Chiffre was working for, QUANTUM, and stops their current endeavour; also he stops one of their agents (who had turned Vesper) before he can inflitrate the Secret Service again by using a woman he is having a love affair with.

 

SF: Bond´s mission is to get back a list with secret agents and their cover names (which he almost succeeds at before he is shot in the heat of the moment by his fellow agent).  Bond is coming back to the service after a terrorist attack on Mi6, tracking down the terrorist who stole the list and captures his superior, Silva.  Unfortunately, Silva is just as good at improvising as Bond is, being a former fellow agent, and he uses his capture to turn the tables in order to shoot M during the hearing.  Bond succeeds at preventing that.  Bond follows M´s order to end the conflict with Silva with no more other agents having to die, and despite Silva having much more man- and gunpower, Bond again succeeds at killing all of the henchmen AND Silva before Silva can kill M.  M, however, dies due to a shotgun wound that was inflicted on her during the battle because she missed while shooting at one of Silva´s henchmen - who in turn hits her.

 

In conclusion - Craig-Bond is pretty effective and successful, but he cannot rescue everybody.   On the one hand, that is much more believable than the "Bond always prevails"-formula.  And comparing it with previous eras one will easily see that almost every Bond film has one major death that Bond cannot prevent.

 

 

As for your problems concerning the logic of SKYFALL - if you care to elaborate on that, I´ll love to rebuke...



#7 the villain's architect

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 10:09 AM

I like SF for its atmosphere and cinematography, but there are indeed some question marks regarding the plot that I'd like to hear your esteemed opinion about, Secret Agent Fan:
1. How could Silva forsee all the preperations needed to escape his prison cell?
2. Ben Wishaw's new Q is a great character, but making him fall for a trojan horse like computer virus made him look like an apprentice. For me, the character's reputation is severely damaged. The old Qs were Bond's swiss army knifes, the new one is a security risk. I hope SP will manage to give Q his reputation back.
3. What makes Bond think the isolated Skyfall lodge is a good choice of location, not for hiding M, but for luring Silva there and defending her against him and his resources?

#8 David_M

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 01:33 PM

@SecretAgentFan:  

 

I appreciate the elucidation of the CR and QoS plots.  Obviously I was being snarky there, cutting them down to one blurb apiece, but I'd argue that your more detailed synopses still don't alter my larger point: the stakes in these films are small.  Having said that, however, my favorite Bond remains FRWL, in which Bond's mission is simply to retrieve a decoder machine, so it's not like a Bond plot MUST involve global peril.

 

Also, I wasn't suggesting that Craig is uniformly incompetent throughout his tenure; it's only in SF that he bungles it.

 

 

 

Bond follows M´s order to end the conflict with Silva with no more other agents having to die, and despite Silva having much more man- and gunpower, Bond again succeeds at killing all of the henchmen AND Silva before Silva can kill M.  M, however, dies due to a shotgun wound that was inflicted on her during the battle because she missed while shooting at one of Silva´s henchmen - who in turn hits her.

 

Again, your synopses is spot-on and again, it doesn't change my point:  Bond blows it.  No, Sylva doesn't kill M personally, but yes, she's killed, and yes, that's Bond's fault, at least in my book.  While there was no way for him to anticipate the exact circumstances of her demise, I'd argue it's pretty much a given that when you drag an old lady into a firefight, she's going to get killed.  Bond's "plan," such as it is, amounts to this:  "Here's a pistol, ma'am.  If anyone gets into this room, shoot them with it.  I'll be in another part of the house.  'Bye."  M is a bureaucrat, not an agent; expecting her to hold her own in a firefight with trained assassins is tantamount to pushing her in front of a bus.  

 

 

 

 

As for your problems concerning the logic of SKYFALL - if you care to elaborate on that, I´ll love to rebuke...

 

 

I'll stick to the three big ones, since remembering the others would necessitate a re-watch (which I don't have time for).  

 

First up, as "the villain's architect" mentions above (great handle, BTW, tva!)  there is simply no way Silva could have anticipated the myriad of events and time factors necessary to carry out his "capture me so I can attack M at the hearings" plan.  I know this is all done to impress us with how ingenious he is and how he's been playing Batman and Gordon...I mean Bond and M...for fools, but it's ridiculous.  Why not just put on the police uniform and waltz in, skipping all the other nonsense?  Is it that hard to sneak into London?

 

Second, Bond's "plan," as noted above, is insanely stupid.  Is it a good idea to get M "off the grid" to avoid a killer who's really good at using technology to find people?  Of course.  Is it a good idea to take the battle somewhere remote to avoid collateral damage and casualties?  Naturally.  Is it a masterstroke to make those two locations THE SAME PLACE?  Absolutely not.  Even Maxwell Smart couldn't come up with a plan that dumb.  Bond goes out of his way to take M to an isolated spot where no help is possible, a spot no one -- probably not even MI-6 -- knows about.  Okay.  But then he has Q deliberately leave "breadcrumbs" for Silva -- placing Skyfall ON the grid -- and thus makes sure danger will come to him.  Why not take M to Skyfall -- off the grid -- and leave her there while luring Silva somewhere else for the showdown?  Or put M somewhere else and have  the fight at Skyfall?  Anyway, using Skyfall for both is just stupid, and the one surprise is that even in a movie, the logical outcome actually occurs; M is killed. (Also, nice move picking Skyfall before making sure there's actually any guns on the premises).

 

Third, I have a problem with the "welcome back, 007, let's get to work" ending.  It almost feels like Bond's being rewarded for his performance.  The last thing Mallory said was, "Don't cock it up" and what did he do?  He cocked it up.  But no hard feelings. This rings false for me.

 

Consider:  MI-6 in general and M in particular are threatened by what turns out to be a former agent gone rogue.  That is the enemy du jour; everyone is alert to this crisis: Agent Gone Bad.  At the same time, another agent suddenly shows up after being out of contact for months, his whereabouts and activities during that period unknown since he refused to report in.  At the time of his disappearance, he had just been shot, very nearly fatally, based on an order from M.  While he was gone, M saw to it that his flat and possessions were sold off.  So he has every reason to be very unhappy with the old lady.  Jump forward a few days and this agent kidnaps M and removes her to an unknown location, where contact with headquarters is impossible.  The next time you see this agent, M is dead.

 

Now, I ask you; if that agent's name was anything other than "James Bond," wouldn't you say it's reasonable to suspect this agent, like the other one, has gone rogue?  Where was he in those missing months?  How pissed was he at M, where did he take her and how was she killed?  All we have is his word that things happened as they did.  Why does none of this occur to anyone?  Obviously they'd be wrong if they think Bond had gone bad, but wouldn't it show due diligence to at least investigate?

 

Other than the plot, though, I enjoy the film. :-)



#9 tdalton

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 01:38 PM

If it weren't for the terrible, hole-riddled plot and the awful, annoying characters, Skyfall would be a pretty good film.  As it currently is constructed, it's basically an exercise of Daniel Craig and Roger Deakins dragging the film towards the finish line.



#10 Call Billy Bob

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:28 PM

I have never understood many people's obsession with plot holes, almost like they go into a movie just so they can spot them and scrutinize said film for them. It's entertainment - enjoy yourself! So what if it's illogical?!? Films are written by human beings, who are not perfect.

I'm not actively aware of any "plot holes" in Skyfall. The film flows logically and makes perfect sense to me.

#11 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:29 PM

I like SF for its atmosphere and cinematography, but there are indeed some question marks regarding the plot that I'd like to hear your esteemed opinion about, Secret Agent Fan:
1. How could Silva forsee all the preperations needed to escape his prison cell?
2. Ben Wishaw's new Q is a great character, but making him fall for a trojan horse like computer virus made him look like an apprentice. For me, the character's reputation is severely damaged. The old Qs were Bond's swiss army knifes, the new one is a security risk. I hope SP will manage to give Q his reputation back.
3. What makes Bond think the isolated Skyfall lodge is a good choice of location, not for hiding M, but for luring Silva there and defending her against him and his resources?

 

1. He did not foresee everything.  But he did prepare to escape from MI6 and to shoot M during the hearing.  If Bond had not captured him, he would have found another way in.  But he was especially delighted to lure another of M´s "favorites" to him, making him see how he could very well end up just like him.

 

2.  Well, they have to find out what Silva is planning.  And they think they can risk it.  But the moment they find out its secret they are doomed.  One might say: this Q has too much hubris.  But that´s what IMO makes the character interesting and different; in his first encounter with Bond in the National Gallery Q does feel superior to this "trigger finger".  In the end he is cut down to size.  Then again, Silva is just... well, too brilliant for anybody.  And one should add for fairness that Q does have a big staff, and nobody there can prevent the compromising of the Mi6 network.  Also, since Silva already has found a way in, with even M allowing Silva´s virus to infiltrate her notebook, he is just one hacker that can´t be stopped.  Like the Sony-attackers.

 

3. Several things: a) it´s the only place he knows there, B) he believes a lot of guns are stored there, c) such a lodge does offer a great position to defend oneself since the eyelines are clear in every direction.  Also, M does not want to hide and be safe from Silva, she wants Bond to lure Silva to her, for a final confrontation.  She does have a guilty conscience because she has caused many agents to be comprised or even killed (the "youtube"-video of one agent´s brutal murder is hitting on that point again).  In a way, M wants to atone for her sins by going to her death.



#12 tdalton

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:31 PM

I have never understood many people's obsession with plot holes, almost like they go into a movie just so they can spot them and scrutinize said film for them. It's entertainment - enjoy yourself! So what if it's illogical?!? Films are written by human beings, who are not perfect.

I'm not actively aware of any "plot holes" in Skyfall. The film flows logically and makes perfect sense to me.

 

The problem with Skyfall's plotholes are that they are blatantly obvious and pull many viewers out of the film.  I didn't go to the theater ready to tear apart the film's plot while I was sitting in there.  As someone already stated in the thread, if the plot can hang together well enough so that the plotholes aren't evident until you start thinking back on the film while on the ride home or the day after, then the plot was fairly well constructed.  It made you suspend any disbelief while you're actively engaged in the film.

 

Skyfall, on the other hand, doesn't do this.  While I sat in the theater, plot hole after plot hole just made themselves so blatantly obvious that the whole conceit of the film just couldn't stand up.  They completely took me out of the film to the point that I was sitting there trying to figure out exactly how and why everything was happening, because the plot simply made little to no logistical sense for much of the film.



#13 Call Billy Bob

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:34 PM

I have never understood many people's obsession with plot holes, almost like they go into a movie just so they can spot them and scrutinize said film for them. It's entertainment - enjoy yourself! So what if it's illogical?!? Films are written by human beings, who are not perfect.

I'm not actively aware of any "plot holes" in Skyfall. The film flows logically and makes perfect sense to me.

 
The problem with Skyfall's plotholes are that they are blatantly obvious and pull many viewers out of the film.  I didn't go to the theater ready to tear apart the film's plot while I was sitting in there.  As someone already stated in the thread, if the plot can hang together well enough so that the plotholes aren't evident until you start thinking back on the film while on the ride home or the day after, then the plot was fairly well constructed.  It made you suspend any disbelief while you're actively engaged in the film.
 
Skyfall, on the other hand, doesn't do this.  While I sat in the theater, plot hole after plot hole just made themselves so blatantly obvious that the whole conceit of the film just couldn't stand up.  They completely took me out of the film to the point that I was sitting there trying to figure out exactly how and why everything was happening, because the plot simply made little to no logistical sense for much of the film.

Maybe I'm just a simpleton, but I had no problem following the story and the plot progression. I guess I just choose to accept what I see on screen and not question it as it is a film, and most (if not all) films have some form of their own internal logic.

#14 David_M

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:41 PM

 

 

I have never understood many people's obsession with plot holes, almost like they go into a movie just so they can spot them and scrutinize said film for them. It's entertainment - enjoy yourself! So what if it's illogical?!? Films are written by human beings, who are not perfect.

 

 

I'm not obsessed with plot holes.  As noted above, I only mind them when they're so glaring and distracting that they keep me from enjoying a film.  Offhand I can't think of any Bond film that's got a logical plot from start to finish, but the difference is with the best ones I don't notice until later, and even then I don't care.  

 

You know who I wish were more obsessed with plot-holes, though?  Writers.

 

Also, and not to pick on you specifically, but I'm really weary of the kind of fannish boosterism that rejects any criticism as "looking for problems," "going in with a bad attitude" or "not trying hard enough."  I can assure you it's not worth $10 for me to endure the misery that is the modern cinema experience just so I can nitpick and complain.  I go in like everyone else does; hoping to be entertained.  SF actually delivered on that score about half the time, which is a respectable average lately.



#15 tdalton

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:43 PM

I don't think it has anything to do with being a simpleton or anything like that.  Certain films work for certain people and the other way around.  I'm sure that there are certain films that I can be fully engrossed in that someone else can tear apart and expose all its plot issues.  

 

I do think, though, that there are enough people who have caught onto the plothole issues in Skyfall for it to be a problem with the script.  Sure, you could probably find a lot of plotholes in the other Bond films as well, but Skyfall seems to, IMO, almost wear them on their sleeve.  I think you'd have to work a slight bit harder to find them in some of the other films.



#16 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:46 PM

@SecretAgentFan:  

 

I appreciate the elucidation of the CR and QoS plots.  Obviously I was being snarky there, cutting them down to one blurb apiece, but I'd argue that your more detailed synopses still don't alter my larger point: the stakes in these films are small.  Having said that, however, my favorite Bond remains FRWL, in which Bond's mission is simply to retrieve a decoder machine, so it's not like a Bond plot MUST involve global peril.

 

Also, I wasn't suggesting that Craig is uniformly incompetent throughout his tenure; it's only in SF that he bungles it.

 

 

 

Bond follows M´s order to end the conflict with Silva with no more other agents having to die, and despite Silva having much more man- and gunpower, Bond again succeeds at killing all of the henchmen AND Silva before Silva can kill M.  M, however, dies due to a shotgun wound that was inflicted on her during the battle because she missed while shooting at one of Silva´s henchmen - who in turn hits her.

 

Again, your synopses is spot-on and again, it doesn't change my point:  Bond blows it.  No, Sylva doesn't kill M personally, but yes, she's killed, and yes, that's Bond's fault, at least in my book.  While there was no way for him to anticipate the exact circumstances of her demise, I'd argue it's pretty much a given that when you drag an old lady into a firefight, she's going to get killed.  Bond's "plan," such as it is, amounts to this:  "Here's a pistol, ma'am.  If anyone gets into this room, shoot them with it.  I'll be in another part of the house.  'Bye."  M is a bureaucrat, not an agent; expecting her to hold her own in a firefight with trained assassins is tantamount to pushing her in front of a bus.  

 

 

 

 

As for your problems concerning the logic of SKYFALL - if you care to elaborate on that, I´ll love to rebuke...

 

 

I'll stick to the three big ones, since remembering the others would necessitate a re-watch (which I don't have time for).  

 

First up, as "the villain's architect" mentions above (great handle, BTW, tva!)  there is simply no way Silva could have anticipated the myriad of events and time factors necessary to carry out his "capture me so I can attack M at the hearings" plan.  I know this is all done to impress us with how ingenious he is and how he's been playing Batman and Gordon...I mean Bond and M...for fools, but it's ridiculous.  Why not just put on the police uniform and waltz in, skipping all the other nonsense?  Is it that hard to sneak into London?

 

Second, Bond's "plan," as noted above, is insanely stupid.  Is it a good idea to get M "off the grid" to avoid a killer who's really good at using technology to find people?  Of course.  Is it a good idea to take the battle somewhere remote to avoid collateral damage and casualties?  Naturally.  Is it a masterstroke to make those two locations THE SAME PLACE?  Absolutely not.  Even Maxwell Smart couldn't come up with a plan that dumb.  Bond goes out of his way to take M to an isolated spot where no help is possible, a spot no one -- probably not even MI-6 -- knows about.  Okay.  But then he has Q deliberately leave "breadcrumbs" for Silva -- placing Skyfall ON the grid -- and thus makes sure danger will come to him.  Why not take M to Skyfall -- off the grid -- and leave her there while luring Silva somewhere else for the showdown?  Or put M somewhere else and have  the fight at Skyfall?  Anyway, using Skyfall for both is just stupid, and the one surprise is that even in a movie, the logical outcome actually occurs; M is killed. (Also, nice move picking Skyfall before making sure there's actually any guns on the premises).

 

Third, I have a problem with the "welcome back, 007, let's get to work" ending.  It almost feels like Bond's being rewarded for his performance.  The last thing Mallory said was, "Don't cock it up" and what did he do?  He cocked it up.  But no hard feelings. This rings false for me.

 

Consider:  MI-6 in general and M in particular are threatened by what turns out to be a former agent gone rogue.  That is the enemy du jour; everyone is alert to this crisis: Agent Gone Bad.  At the same time, another agent suddenly shows up after being out of contact for months, his whereabouts and activities during that period unknown since he refused to report in.  At the time of his disappearance, he had just been shot, very nearly fatally, based on an order from M.  While he was gone, M saw to it that his flat and possessions were sold off.  So he has every reason to be very unhappy with the old lady.  Jump forward a few days and this agent kidnaps M and removes her to an unknown location, where contact with headquarters is impossible.  The next time you see this agent, M is dead.

 

Now, I ask you; if that agent's name was anything other than "James Bond," wouldn't you say it's reasonable to suspect this agent, like the other one, has gone rogue?  Where was he in those missing months?  How pissed was he at M, where did he take her and how was she killed?  All we have is his word that things happened as they did.  Why does none of this occur to anyone?  Obviously they'd be wrong if they think Bond had gone bad, but wouldn't it show due diligence to at least investigate?

 

Other than the plot, though, I enjoy the film. :-)

 

Alright, I asked for it.

 

Well... as for your point about Bond blowing it with M (not that way, of course) - I do disagree.  True, he could have called first to ask if there still are enough guns for protection.  Then again, Silva´s army would have overpowered them anyway.  And M - as I pointed out above - does have a death wish, wanting to atone for her sins, causing the death of other agents and also causing Silva to become the monster he is now.  To say, however, that Bond should not expect M to know how to handle her gun is, IMO, wrong.  M just is not that good with it, as she points out afterwards.  In comparison, the new M is pretty good at it, even if he is a bureaucrat now too.

 

Regarding your other points:

 

1.)  Silva wants to show Mi6 how clever he is.  Just killing M would be too easy for him.  He wants and likes to play with them.

 

2.)  As I wrote in my reply to "the villain´s architect" - M orders Bond to get her away from any place that might endanger more innocent bystanders.  She does not want to taken to a secure place but to face Silva with Bond for one final confrontation.  Bond only knows his parent´s lodge that could work for that.  His mistake is to think that nothing has changed there, meaning: that there are still lots of guns around.

 

3.)  Bond kills Silva.  The former M´s death is, as sad as it is, collateral damage in this business.  No way the new M would berate Bond for bringing in Silva first, saving M and many others at the hearing, avoiding more casualties and finally killing the rogue agent.

 

4.)  Well, they do investigate what happened to Bond when he comes back "from the dead".  And it is the old M who trust him enough to send him on another mission despite the investigation declaring Bond not fit for it.  Bond does prove to be fit enough, that´s why the new M is using him again.  To put him under investigation again at the end of the film would have felt wrong and too much of a repetition.

 

I know...

 

Still, SKYFALL is much more of a psychological thriller than a tough, gritty spy story.  And in that regard, it is IMO very coherent and believable.

 

If one wanted to argue the realism of any Bond film (and don´t get me started on any Bourne film, since that guy clearly is the Terminator, completely invincible) you would have to raise your hand immediately and say: wait, an agent who mainly does his own thing, causing mayhem in civilian areas etc. would immediately be reprimanded and taken off field duty.   But that would result in a very dull film, wouldn´t it?



#17 Call Billy Bob

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:48 PM

Also, and not to pick on you specifically, but I'm really weary of the kind of fannish boosterism that rejects any criticism as "looking for problems," "going in with a bad attitude" or "not trying hard enough."

I'm not saying all criticism is bad and can be lumped into some of those statements - heck, I criticize Quantum of Solace, Licence to Kill, and Die Another Day until the sun goes down. I guess I'll piggyback off of what tdalton just said and acknowledge the fact that so many people have caught on to Skyfall's plot holes. To me, it seemed like everyone was ganging up on Skyfall. To most, it was a logical argument to make. Perhaps it's best to leave my emotions out of things - which is extremely hard to do, let me tell you!

#18 David_M

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:55 PM

 

 

Maybe I'm just a simpleton, but I had no problem following the story and the plot progression. I guess I just choose to accept what I see on screen and not question it as it is a film, and most (if not all) films have some form of their own internal logic. 

 

On the contrary, if you had no trouble, you're not a simpleton; you're some kind of genius.  I freely admit to being much slower; I need things to add up clearly or I get frustrated.

 

Also, glad to see you agree all films have their own internal logic irrespective of "real world" logic, and should be enjoyed for what they are.  Always good to have another fan of "Moonraker" to back me up. :-)



#19 Call Billy Bob

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 02:57 PM

Also, glad to see you agree all films have their own internal logic irrespective of "real world" logic, and should be enjoyed for what they are.  Always good to have another fan of "Moonraker" to back me up. :-)

Happy to be in agreement here!

#20 David_M

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 03:19 PM

 

 

 And M - as I pointed out above - does have a death wish, wanting to atone for her sins, causing the death of other agents and also causing Silva to become the monster he is now.  

 

You raise an interesting possibility, that M is actively trying to get killed.  And you may be right.  However, the point is I don't think Bond is trying to get her killed, and it's his plan I'm second-guessing.

 

 

 

To say, however, that Bond should not expect M to know how to handle her gun is, IMO, wrong.  M just is not that good with it, as she points out afterwards.  In comparison, the new M is pretty good at it, even if he is a bureaucrat now too.

 

Well, as audience members we don't know what M's background is, but we already know Bond has used his skills to investigate her (to the point of finding out her real name and breaking into her apartment in CR), so he should know if she's been a paper-pusher all her life.

 

The way Mallory's skills are presented, and people respond, it's implied he's the exception, not the rule, when it comes to MI-6 chiefs and firearms.

 

 

 

1.)  Silva wants to show Mi6 how clever he is.  Just killing M would be too easy for him.  He wants and likes to play with them.

 

 

Plus, we need 20 minutes of film time to come from somewhere.

 

 

 

2.)  As I wrote in my reply to "the villain´s architect" - M orders Bond to get her away from any place that might endanger more innocent bystanders.  She does not want to taken to a secure place but to face Silva with Bond for one final confrontation.  Bond only knows his parent´s lodge that could work for that.  His mistake is to think that nothing has changed there, meaning: that there are still lots of guns around.

 

 

Again, entirely plausible, if not at all made clear in the film itself.  And again, I don't think Bond would go along with "assisted suicide" if he could help it, so I'm still looking for other motives on his part, regardless of what M's planning.

 

Also, even if there were a lot of guns at the house, as far as Bond knows, he's the only one who'll be there to shoot them.

 

 

 

3.)  Bond kills Silva.  The former M´s death is, as sad as it is, collateral damage in this business.  No way the new M would berate Bond for bringing in Silva first, saving M and many others at the hearing, avoiding more casualties and finally killing the rogue agent.

 

I wasn't saddened by the former M's death; her exit is probably the most overdue since Roger's (sorry, Roger).  I agree Bond's "saves" outweigh his "losses" here, but in a business as necessarily paranoid and suspicious as intelligence work, I still say Bond gets too easy a pass, here.  

 

 

 

4.)  Well, they do investigate what happened to Bond when he comes back "from the dead".  And it is the old M who trust him enough to send him on another mission despite the investigation declaring Bond not fit for it.  Bond does prove to be fit enough, that´s why the new M is using him again.  To put him under investigation again at the end of the film would have felt wrong and too much of a repetition.

 

 

Mind you, I'm not saying I'd have wanted to watch an investigation of Bond; those "unwarranted court martial" episodes of old TV shows were always yawners.  However, I do think the plot works us into a position where it would be justified -- if not incumbent on -- anyone running MI-6 to ask some hard questions.  You're probably right that in the end it just comes down to Mallory trusting his "instincts" about Bond.

 

Or maybe he wanted the job all along and counted on Bond's "brilliant plan" to make sure he got it.

 

 

 

If one wanted to argue the realism of any Bond film (and don´t get me started on any Bourne film, since that guy clearly is the Terminator, completely invincible) you would have to raise your hand immediately and say: wait, an agent who mainly does his own thing, causing mayhem in civilian areas etc. would immediately be reprimanded and taken off field duty.   But that would result in a very dull film, wouldn´t it?

 

 

Indeed it would.  And as long as folks are willing to acknowledge that the series is every bit as fantastical, implausible and cockeyed today as it was in the 70s, I'm fine.  We've just traded in the old ridiculous for a new ridiculous.  And I am fine with ridiculous -- indeed I have a deep love of the ridiculous -- just so long as no one's trying to pretend it's anything else.



#21 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 03 June 2015 - 04:08 PM

Of course, I´m playing a bit devli´s advocate here (or better: defensive fanboy).

 

But let me clarify one more thing.  I don´t think M wants to die.  But I do think, with her feelings of guilt and being thrown away by her superiors anyway, it´s not her priority to survive but to stop the monster she created, with the help of the one who could have become a monster but - as she said with her last words - who became the one thing she did right.

 

Also, let me make one statement in general.

 

Realism in movies.  

 

That´s a weird one because first and foremost, a movie - or let´s say: fiction in general - is made up.  It needs the suspension of disbelief in order to work at all.  To achieve that it needs to construct its story plausibly.

 

But let´s be honest: does reality always appear to be plausible or believable to anybody?  People react all the time in ways that defy any logic or credibility.  And what´s our answer to that?  Well, they are people, and they do make mistakes, are thrown by the shock of the moment or their misguided fears and desires.

 

But when this happens in a work of fiction, many people almost have this Pawlowian reflex to cry out: THAT´S WRONG!  THAT´S NOT HOW PEOPLE BEHAVE!

 

Well, they do.  And realism in fiction needs to have the same room for thought as reality itself, IMO.



#22 DaveBond21

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 01:50 AM

I think SecretAgentFan has done a good job of defending the plot holes here. But I get the sense that he is doing a better job than the Bond producers and Mendes himself could have done!  ;)

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



#23 David_M

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 02:15 AM

 

  

But let´s be honest: does reality always appear to be plausible or believable to anybody?  People react all the time in ways that defy any logic or credibility.  And what´s our answer to that?  Well, they are people, and they do make mistakes, are thrown by the shock of the moment or their misguided fears and desires.

 

Interesting idea.  So the problem isn't so much that Bond's plan is ill-conceived and foolish, but rather that Hollywood has created in me the unrealistic expectation that movie heroes should always be able to come up with a GOOD plan.  Actually, more than good; they usually come up with a brilliant plan that achieves all their objectives and proves they were smarter than the bad guy all the time.  And they do this often in a matter of moments, under extreme stress and/or imminent threat of bodily harm/death. And if they're James Bond, they do it while drinking gallons of booze, shagging everything in sight and giving lectures on butterflies and extinct orchids.  Point taken.

 

On the other hand, traditions are there for a reason, and traditionally we've rather enjoyed watching heroes who can hold it together under extreme pressure, and think more clearly in a crisis than we can in perfect safety.  With Bond in particular, part of the appeal has always been that he's better than us; better at picking up girls, a better shot, a better driver, a better gambler (or is that "better bettor") etc.  In short, he's the guy we wish we were, yet somehow we don't resent him for being so damn perfect.  

 

Or anyway, that was classic Bond.  Modern Bond is haunted, grim, regularly beaten and battered and just generally a hard luck case.  I enjoy watching him in action and I find him a fascinating character in his way, but I would never want to be Craig's Bond.  That's cool, though, it's just different, and if you're right then another piece of that is that New Bond is much more likely to make a really bad decision in a moment of stress, with catastrophic results.  To be, as you say, "thrown by the shock of the moment or his misguided fears and desires."

 

Certainly, Skyfall seems to bear out your theory, since contrary to conventional movie logic, his bad choices don't turn out "okay in the end."  What happens in the film is exactly what you'd expect to happen in real life: M gets killed.

 

An interesting angle, and one that might help me appreciate the film more on it's own merits.  I'm still learning to let go of "Classic Bond" and this insight could prove useful in that regard.  So thanks.

 

Also, in fairness, there's nothing in DN or FRWL that paints Bond as especially clever.  In FRWL, he's outmanuevered by Grant for the whole film, and only pulls out a win through luck and improvisation.  It's not until GF -- where Bond casually calculates the number of trucks and men it would take, and in how many days, to transport the gold from Fort Knox -- that we get the first inkling of "super-genius Bond," and it only gets wilder from there.  So maybe all we're doing is just going back to the beginning.  And in that context, it makes one more sympathetic to Silva, who for all his superior intellect is forever frustrated by Bond's dumb luck and stubborn persistence, just as Doctor No is irked at being set back repeatedly by a "stupid policeman."  In the right frame of mind, it might even be fun to watch all these super-brains driven slowly insane by this average-intelligence-at-best "blunt instrument."



#24 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 07:38 AM

Interesting thoughts, David M., and, naturally, I do respect your point of view on SKYFALL as not working at all.

 

May I suggest one more idea?

 

If SKYFALL had ended with Bond killing Silva and M surviving...  wouldn´t that have felt weird and undeserved?  The whole film is built like a tragedy, having an inevitable outcome, having M face the consequences of her actions.  

 

I would argue that M has to die at the end, simply because she is responsible for giving up Silva (a correct political decision, true, but morally wrong), just as she was urging Eve to make "the bloody shot" despite knowing that Eve did not have a clear line of sight, thereby enabling Patrice to escape with the list that also was M´s responsibility not to lose in the first place.  Then, agents get brutally slaughtered because of that.  Also, she considers the hearing as a public flagging, as if she did not need to justify her actions.  And when Bond brings in Silva she does not feel or express the slightest sympathy for his suffering and hides behind her duty, showing a cold, stern and authoritative side.  At the hearing she resists taking the blame, thinking that in the end her agent - Bond - has cleaned up everything.  (The same agent, by the way, she also was willing to give up, because getting the list back, erasing her mistake, was more important to her than her trust in him overpowering Patrice by himself.)

 

It is only after the hearing turns into a shootout that again endangers many innocent people that M finally comes around and orders Bond to get her to a place where they can face Silva without innocents being in harm´s way.

 

Interestingly, at "Skyfall" Bond is not alone with M (the mother figure) but encounters in Kincaid a father figure as well, thus re-uniting with a parental unit at a place where he had to face the news of losing his real parents.

 

In the finale inside the old chapel, Silva´s line "Of course, this is how it has to end" is spot-on, IMO.  Bond again has to face the death of the person that represented a kind of parental influence (in QOS, he even jokes about M who seemingly likes to think she is is mother).  This time, however, he knows that M is not a benevolent mother figure but mostly a human being who turned into a bureaucrat who did bring all this evil on to herself.  The fact that he cannot save her is, IMO, extremely important for Bond because a) he himself has to face the fact that his actions always have consequences - "somebody usually dies", another line foreshadowing perfectly Bond´s plight, and because B) it is his motivation and at the same time his own tragedy: people who are dear to him the most will lose their lives anyway: Vesper was the first one (in the Craig era) and in another timeline it was Tracy.  Now, it is also M, the person who chose him for the 00-section and put him on this path of his life.

 

SKYFALL, storywise, has all the ingredients of a classic Bond film - but also of a classic tragedy.  That´s what sets it apart from the other films, proving that the formula can be expanded even to this kind of narrative.



#25 the villain's architect

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 08:42 AM

Thank you very much for your explanations, SAF. You did a good job. Plot holes annoy me most when the motives that drive the characters aren't logic. I even bought that bond had the classic Aston Martin he won equipped with armour—just in case he'd need it one day. It's just, some Bond movies feel like they are driven by the motivations of the protagonists (FRWL), while others appear as if first they knew what effectful scenes and action sequences they want and then they had them glued together by the writers. In the second case, sometimes the motivations that lead to an event fail to be plausible.
But once again (after TWINE) your explanations helped me to grow fonder of the Skyfall storyline. Thank you again for that!


Edited by the villain's architect, 04 June 2015 - 10:53 AM.


#26 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 08:59 AM

Don´t mention it  B)



#27 Major Tallon

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 11:53 AM

I'm a latecomer to this discussion, so I'll just say that I'm in awe of the points and counterpoints being made here.  Simply brilliant, CBn at its best.



#28 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 02:51 PM

Good to hear, Major!  And that´s what these revisiting-threads were supposed to do: to fire up people´s passion about the movies, looking at them in various and maybe even new ways.



#29 Call Billy Bob

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 03:26 PM

And once again, thanks to SecretAgentFan for the series of revisits! They've inspired me to go back and re-watch all the films in order, and re-evaluate my thoughts/rankings. My hat's off to you SAF - well done!

#30 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 04 June 2015 - 03:38 PM

Thanks!  And please chime in with your own reviews!






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