Ranking Bond: Skyfall (2012), Part IV
In the 22 days leading up to this film’s release (which seems insane to me now. You’ll find out why soon. And also kinda with these articles), I did a series called Ranking Bond. I watched all the movies in the franchise, wrote them up and ranked how I liked them all. And since my buddy Colin (whose blog is TokyoRemix.com. Fuck yeah, promotion!) is a huge Bond fan, I enlisted his help in the articles, since he knows more trivia and such about the franchise (specifically about the cars) than I do.
So we went through and did the articles, and it was fun. (You’ll find out just how fun soon. Hint hint.) And the only real thought we had when it was over was, “We really need to do Skyfall when it comes out on DVD.”
And that’s exactly what we’re doing.
We’re four months removed from the rest of the articles, so we won’t rank specifically (though we will discuss where he think this falls within our lists at the end), but we will be doing the same thing we did for the other articles.
Today we get into Part IV of Skyfall:
We begin Part IV with Silva (whose name we don’t know officially yet) in custody at MI6.
You picked a good spot to break between III and IV, too. This is the moment where this goes from pretty standard Bond film to all-in Skyfall. You could take it from here and delete some of the reveals and character backstory and turn it into a more generic film that probably would have pleased more people. But screw that, cause what’s about to happen is awesome.
You’d think they’d bring him to a secure holding cell somewhere else. (Remember when they kept Bond on a fucking boat like a hundred miles from where they picked him up? Why would you fly the motherfucker back to your underground bunker, which you’re only in because HE BREACHED THE SECURITY OF YOUR OTHER BUILDING?)
I love this glass. This is one of those cool technological advances that happened quietly. I go through life pissed about how there’s never anything new in the world that I can enjoy. It’s always either incremental, like the next iPhone, or new software, which – boring. I remember seeing this in 2005 when Ferrari released the 575M Superamerica. It had an electrochromic glass roof that could be adjusted for opacity down to the percentage point – from perfectly clear to perfectly opaque black. But it’s coming along, and we’re gonna have this shit soon. That’s exciting.
“Well, hello, Clarice.”
She recognizes him.
Where’s the toilet?
“You are smaller than I remember.”
“Whereas I barely remember you at all.”
They talk. We essentially find out he was one of her agents and was captured and/or given up by Judi, taken and tortured in a room with no air for five months.
A room with no air? I call bullshit.
“They made me suffer, and suffer, and suffer, until I realized it was you who betrayed me.”
Can we just put Javier Bardem in random movies and have him show up to do monologues? That’d be awesome. I bet he could make me uncomfortable simply by talking about a trip to Panera Bread.
Though I have to say — I must be the only one who doesn’t think it’s Bardem’s performance as much as it is the writing. You could put a bunch of actors here (higher caliber, like Bardem, of course, but still) and the performance would be the same. I listened to the performance and was like, “I can barely understand what he’s saying at times because of his accent.” I feel like this is one of those situations where the performance is just good, and Deakins’s shooting and the editing and the writing all the things that make a performance actually made it what it is. To me it just feels like bandwagon jumping to get all up on Javier Bardem because of this. Because this dude’s been giving great performances for over a decade. I feel like I’ve heard from so many people who are all of a sudden talking about Bardem they way they talk about the same people from the same movies. Remember when no one gave a shit about Robert Downey Jr. until Iron Man? It’s the same thing. Though I agree, he is good with monologues. Collateral springs to mind. And of course No Country for Old Men. I just like to beat that “fuck people” drum as much as I can.
I’m sure a lot of it is writing. But the accent and his inflections really help. He just sounds creepy. And that’s what comes out in the scenes that aren’t monologues. I was thinking of No Country for Old Men in that capacity. He just walks around and I’m scared of him.
Until he remembered his cyanide capsule, which all agents have hidden in one of their teeth. So he broke the tooth, bit into the capsule, only… it didn’t work. It fucked him up real good but didn’t kill him.
“And then I realized why I survived. I needed to look in your eyes one last time.”
“Well I hope it was worth it.”
She finally says his name – “Mr. Silva” – and tells him what the deal is. Only –
“Say my name.”
“Say it. My real name. I know you remember it.”
“Your name’s on the memorial wall of the very building you attacked. I will have it struck off. Soon. Your past will be as nonexistent as your future. I’ll never see you again.”
“Do you know what it does to you? Hydrogen cyanide?”
“Look upon your work, mother.”
So let’s talk about Raoul Silva, aka Tiago Rodriguez (which we’ll find out about in a second).
As we’ve seen, Raoul Silva is an MI6 agent turned cyber-terrorist. It’s sort of hard to decide whether he went crazy during the torture of if the seeds of his betrayal were already there when he was an agent. It seems he went rogue — that doesn’t necessarily mean that he deserved what he got, but it’s an interesting comparison. It’s a more interesting comparison than the one between Bond and Trevelyan in GoldenEye, because Silva is what Bond could become if he loses his way. I think we all loved his monologues, and he’s got more to come.
Mike — more than myself — has been pretty vocal in criticizing Bond villains who do things for themselves or get too involved in their plots. A lot of times, it makes no sense for them to be where the action is, but with Silva it works. He’s a former agent, and they sort of justify him being a master hacker in a minute. I like that he doesn’t really have much to be tied to and that he doesn’t have some state-of-the-art lair somewhere obvious. He’s really just an existential threat to M and Bond — we know that he does other bad shit, but the plot of this film is about his issues with M. No world domination, no ransom, nothing like that. Sort of the first Bond villain with that aspect. Trevelyan wanted revenge, but was getting cash out of the deal; Elektra wanted revenge, but was getting a lucrative deal out of the plan. So it’s nice to see that this is purely personal for him. I like a character that’s driven by more than just money.
The last thing I’ll say is, Silva’s got great taste in women. But what a waste.
I do like him as a villain, and I think he’s automatically a better villain than Trevelyan, who is a to five villain for the franchise, or very close to it. I think everything about him works as a villain except not being able to understand what he’s saying at points, and a certain logic flaw that we’ll point out later. Mostly about his plan and how he goes about it. But I’ll echo what Colin said that it’s nice that this isn’t about money at all. Since he’s already established he can get a shit ton of that at a moment’s notice. So that’s a nice change of pace.
Judi wants to know what they recovered from his computer. She wants this shit finished, and she wants that treaty signed.
She also realizes she needs to tell Bond.
“His name is Tiago Rodriguez. He was a brilliant agent. But he started operating beyond his brief, hacking the Chinese. The handover was coming up and they were onto him, so I gave him up. I got six agents in return, and a peaceful transition.”
She gave him up, presumably in ’97. I like to think that she was giving Silva to the Chinese at the same time Brosnan was brushing up on a little Danish. Although, you figure – they got a peaceful transistion… what would have been the point? You’re just gonna be on the verge of war with China ANYWAY in about four days when Elliot Carver messes up the Devonshire’s GPS system.
Computer hacking time.
(Why they think this will end well is beyond me. Do you really want to fuck with a dude who hacked MI6?)
Silva has advanced security protocols on his computer, designed to wipe the memory of the computer if they’re attacked. Only about six people in the world could program safeguards like that.
“Of course there are. Can you get past them?”
“I invented them.”
Q gets a moment of badassness.
As soon as this shot happened in the movie, I went, “Why the fuck would you do that?”
Even he knows how stupid that was.
Is he doing a Zen thing? It looks like his concentration is linked to the hack. Like he’s controlling his computer virus with his mind. Since that is most definitely not the case, I guess they’re just trying to show him being calm as they hack him to suggest that he is actually in control.
He’s got some fucked up code in his system.
Oh, and by the way, Judi’s hearing is happening at this exact same moment.
Here’s a question – if this is a public hearing, wouldn’t her real name be used? They can’t honestly call her “M,” can they?
You think they all use Vaios in this movie?
And by the way, she gave up six of his friends.
And there’s Helen McCrory. She’s the one who’s like, “This is all clearly your fault.”
Judi’s almost singlehandedly responsible? Yeah, do that. Take that tone.
Ralph Fiennes thinks she’s a fucking bitch.
The code is constantly mutating. “It’s like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that’s fighting back.”
But Bond notices something.
I love how he says, “Go in on that,” and Q knows exactly what to go in on.
Granborough Road is an old train station that’s no longer in service. So naturally that’s the key to the whole thing.
Really, James? You know about a train station 30 miles outside London that was closed in 1936? There’s a miniscule shot that Roger Moore would have known it.
Well, he was 8.
Not one mention why a Spanish dude who used to be based in Hong Kong would use a defunct British train station as the key to his computer passwords. It’s like it’s designed just for them to crack.
I took it as more of a cipher crack than a password. The station is part of the map, so using that key locked in the code and stopped it moving.
The internet really is a series of tubes, I guess.
I also love how all computer hacking now is completely amorphous code until we have simple shit to latch onto, and then it’s this.
It’s a map. It’s a map it’s a map.
Of London. Subterranean London.
“What’s going on? Why are the doors open?”
At least someone figured it out.
Well that was a bit obvious.
This is usually the shot that happens after, “Did I lock my door?”
“Can someone tell me how the hell he got into our system?”
Naturally he’s gone, but I am curious how he killed two guys without a weapon. The second guy, sure, but the first guy – did he just not want to fire on him to keep him alive and that’s what led to it?
This is the kind of shit that keeps me employed.
Let’s send the entire police force down after him!
Oh, wait. This isn’t America. They’re not THAT stupid.
Oh, but good thing they took care of the hack quick enough to track him.
On your left! No, your other left!
There’s one of those lines we all know that’s not one you’d think we’d all know.
And the chase is on.
(Where’s the Citroen?)
They realize this was years in the planning. He knew exactly what they’d do and how they’d react.
The thing that worries Bond is what he’s got planned next.
Ah, a door.
I like this little bit. “Course it will, put your back into it.” “Why don’t you come down here and put your back into it?” Yeah, he just called you scrawny.
“Oh good. There’s a train coming.”
Just like Independence Day.
This is why you have people.
And not one person pays any mind.
Train’s leaving. Does Bond get on it or not?
“Get on the train.”
Reaction shots are the key to comedy.
I cut out a few screenshots here, but I felt we ought to mention it. Colin had a note about it, and it felt like we should mention it.
After Bond jumps onto the train, we cut to an old couple, who say, “He’s keen to get home.”
On one hand, it’s a rare bit of outside humor in this film. On the other hand, it feels a little out of place.
I realized — this is actually the closest bit of humor to “Bond” humor. And by that I mean — the stuff that people often find hokey about this franchise. So I’m curious to see if those same people chuckled at that moment.
“Open the door.”
Look at that stupid lady. I can imagine her making that same face for about five seconds before getting hit by a garbage truck.
So they do the walking through trains bit, which doesn’t amount to much. I’ll spare you the shots.
Bond does realize he’s going for M, though.
“Silva’s escaped. Bond’s in pursuit. We need to get you to a secure location immediately, Mom.”
“Are we straining your attention?”
Too bad she’s British. Jesse Eisenberg would have handled this better.
I’ve got The Social Network on right now. As I type this. And yes, he’d do it better.
It’s funny how one of two things always happens on a train chase: either you find the bad guy right as he reaches his stop and gets off the train and starts you back at square one, or a policeman finds the bad guy and is shot, causing confusion long enough for him to get off the train, and starts you back at square one.
So this is just like Patrice earlier. He showed up JUST in time for the assassination to work, with not a moment to spare. What would have happened if they hadn’t cracked Silva’s code quite as fast? What if Q had been on his lunch break? You see that once he’s in the cell, his plan is at the mercy of their schedules and competence. They solved his puzzle pretty quickly thanks to Bond’s knowledge of prewar metropolitan public transport, but as we’re about to see, he still only JUST makes it to M in time for the end of the hearing.
You also said (in a note I cut out, because I didn’t have screenshots for it), Q makes that joke of “Welcome to rush hour on the tube” (which I didn’t include because they didn’t cut to a black guy talking loudly to an Asian man) — what if the train is slow and has to sit at a stop for a few minutes? I’ve ridden a bunch of New York trains. If some asshole is fucking with the doors so they don’t close, they won’t go anywhere. They’ll sit there like a teacher when a class won’t shut up. So what if that happens? The train is late and he doesn’t get there right as she finishes her speech.
Not surprising we made the same note for that, but it’s still funny.
Right when they made this cut, you knew what was gonna happen.
Well that’s awkward.
I know one person it isn’t!
The cops are all here because security has been alerted. Wouldn’t Q have then alerted them again when they found out he was dressed as a cop?
He leaves the door ajar because he wants Bond to follow him. Should have closed it. Bond could get in anyway; the code’s “ELLIPSIS.”
If not, it’s the first seven notes of “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
“It’s as if you insist we still live in a golden age of espionage, where human intelligence was only resource available.”
Wow, that was a big “fuck you” to the Bond purists.
“Excuse me, minister, I don’t mean to interrupt, but just for the sake of variety, might we actually hear from the witness?”
If you didn’t like Mallory already, you do now. He just shut this bitch down.
“I did my job, now do yours.”
Look at that nod.
How Third Man was that?
Marksmanship is back.
He hit the ladder three times? There’s way more empty space than there is ladder. This is like in every movie where there’s a shootout on a fire escape and people empty whole clips and hit nothing but railings and stairs and stuff. Meanwhile, the target is in full view. You know how many movies do that? EVERY movie does that. I think The Lion King is the only movie I’ve seen where that didn’t happen.
What are you talking about? The Scar/Simba shootout at the end.
But so much for his poor marksmanship, it seems to be pretty solid. When’d that happen?
He’s better when he moves.
“Not bad. Not bad, James, for a physical wreck.”
“You got me. Now, here’s your prize. The latest thing from my local toy store.”
“It’s called Radio.”
(Seriously, why doesn’t that just play clips of Cuba Gooding as a retarded guy?)
“I do hope that wasn’t for me.”
“But that is.”
YES! DUMMY! Oh my god, I just had the best Connery flashback. I miss the dummies so much. This is the closest thing I have to rear projection in the franchise now I’m so fucking happy.
That’s two movies in a row for Helen McCrory that feature a train crash.
Jesus, it never ends.
This starts my favorite track on the score, this moment.
“Chairman, ministers – today I repeatedly heard how irrelevant my department has become.”
“Why do we need agents, the double-o section, isn’t it all rather quaint?”
“Well, I suppose I see a different world than you do. And the truth is that what I see frightens me.”
(Note: The Town.)
“I’m frightened because –”
“Our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on a map. They’re not nations, they’re individuals.”
“But look around you. Who do you fear?”
“Can you see a face, a uniform, a flag?”
“Our world is not more transparent now. It’s more opaque.”
“It’s in the shadows. That’s where we must do battle. So, before you declare us irrelevant, ask yourselves, how safe do you feel?”
Nice look at Mallory when she says that the world is “in the shadows.” Remember when we had that discussion, Ray?
I love that I had a screenshot all set up for this note without even knowing it was coming.
I also love how she’s basically telling the MP that she can call MI6 useless if she wants to, but that she’ll probably be dead within three days.
“Just one more thing to say.”
“My late husband was a great lover of poetry. And, umm, I suppose some of it sunk in, despite my best intentions.”
(Note: TOLD YOU HE WAS DEAD! I figured that shit out from the apartment shot at the beginning.)
(Because I’m awesome, is what you’re supposed to take out of this.)
“And here today, I remember this, I think, from Tennyson.”
“We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven…”
“That which we are, we are.”
“One equal temper of heroic hearts.”
“Made weak, by time and fate.”
“But strong in will.”
“To strive, to seek.”
“And not to yield.”
Here’s the track from the score. It’s fucking brilliant. I remember listening to the score like ten days after seeing the movie and going, “I remember exactly when that track happened.” It says a lot about a score when you can pick out specific tracks and tie them to specific moments. Especially nowadays.
Also, think about her doing in this context — if what happens next doesn’t happen, wouldn’t they all look around like, “Uhh… all right”?
And of course…
This poetry is badass, but in real life, you’d be saying, “…okay?”
The poem is also Bond. Which you should have gotten by how she says all the important parts while we watch him run through traffic like a BAMF.
YEAH, RALPH FIENNES! GET UP OFFA THAT DESK!
I thought for a second they were gonna do it. But this shot made me go, “Oh, so I guess they knew it was gonna seem like it was gonna happen and are going away from it.” So then I figured it wasn’t gonna happen. For about ten minutes.
Love this shot.
Technically not the field, right?
This was a nice moment. Sort of. Since it was Bond’s moment of like, “All right, Mallory. You’re okay.” (Also, does one often get their marksmanship back just like that after watching someone die?)
In a way, it’s a nice moment, since it sets up for later, but on the other hand — I’m not sure what really leads to Bond doing this. Does he just instinctively know Mallory took a bullet for Judi, or does he just see him firing and go, “All right, he’s okay,” and then decide to do it? I don’t get it. The wink makes it seem as though Bond is giving him the okay (since, without it — the ending and subsequent films just don’t happen), but I don’t get what makes him different now from before? He saw him fire a gun. What is this, Rio Grande? Nah, just pull the arrow out of Dad, and that’ll do it.
Also, there’s a strange half a second where Bond points the gun at Mallory and there’s a shot where he’s like, “What the fuck is he gonna do?” It’s weird, because the way they edit it makes it seem like there’s a chance Bond might be shooting at Mallory or something. Which — they didn’t even develop the relationship enough for that to be even a remote possibility, without even getting into the fact that it would never happen. I don’t get why Ralph Fiennes isn’t immediately like, “Oh, he knows what he’s doing.” I’ll give him the, you’re always nervous when a gun gets pointed at you, but the editing just makes it seem like it’s supposed to be a more tense moment than it is or something. Just a strange choice, really. So I’m mixed on the moment. I like it, but… it’s weird.
It’s smart as shit, though. I totally bought this entire sequence, since it felt like how this would go down, and how you can get out of it without any bullshit that requires suspension of disbelief. This seems realistic, outside of, “How the fuck did he hit that in one shot and missed everything else earlier?” It’s not like he was practicing in Macau or something. (What, are you gonna call it game speed? You need to play a game to really get back into the swing of things? Because otherwise I don’t see how you miss the shot glass if you can hit a rung on a ladder and a fire extinguisher.)
Way to go, Silva. You had the element of surprise and she was right in the middle of the room. You had like a shit zillion bullets, too, but you still didn’t manage to kill her. I guess she WAS smaller than you remembered.
And now we’re all thinking, “YEAH, CAR CHASE!”
(Also, this looks like the exact same alleyway they used in a scene in Bourne Ultimatum.)
Love the slide out of the alley, kicking the tail out and hitting the curb. Nice driving.
“007, what are you doing? Are you kidnapping me?” (She asks, as she straps herself in.)
“That would be one way of looking at it.”
“Too many people are dying because of me.”
Bond says they’ve been one step behind Silva from the start. Now it’s time to get out in front. Judi’s to be the bait.
“All right. Just us, no one else.” Which is a nice line, given their relationship.
Though Bond does need some help from –
(He doesn’t get the exclamation point yet.)
Bond has him lay a trail of breadcrumbs that only Silva can follow.
It’s not strictly legal.
“So much for my promising career in espionage.”
It is actually a cool mug — if you notice, it’s a Scrabble mug, but the front of it is the letter ‘Q’ with a little number ’10’ to represent the score. I think that’s pretty awesome. Like, he started the job, found out what his title was and got a mug to be all, “Yeah, I’m a single letter that’s worth 10 points. Judi’s only worth 3 points.”
“Well I’m not hiding in there, if that’s your brilliant plan.”
“We’re changing vehicles. The trouble with company cars is, they have trackers.”
Wait for it….
Wait for it…
And I just nutted everywhere.
“Oh, and I suppose that’s completely inconspicuous.”
It’s BMT 216A! The Casino Royale car had Bahamian plates and left-hand drive. This one resurrects the registration used in Goldfinger and Thunderball, the most iconic DB5 ever. Actually, BMT 216A was the prototype DB5, and made its actual screen debut shortly before Goldfinger on Roger Moore’s series “The Saint” – driven by Anthony Quayle in the episode called “The Noble Sportsman.” At the time, it was Dubonnet Red with a gray interior; part of the work in converting the car to Goldfinger spec was painting it Silver Birch and refitting the interior.
That’s neither here nor there, because the original Goldfinger/Thunderball car (chassis DP/216/1 DB5) was stolen in 1997 and is still missing. This one is just a lookalike Silver Birch DB5 with the BMT 216A registration plates. This was so exciting, though. And playing the Bond theme over it. You win. Everyone that was even remotely involved with this: you win.
And the “James Bond Theme” playing over it. Oh, you sexy bitch.
“It’s not very comfortable, is it?”
“Are you gonna complain the whole way?”
“Oh, go on, then, eject me. See if I care.”
Wonderful moment. Very mother/son.
Judi wants to know where they’re going.
“Back in time. Somewhere we’ll have the advantage.”
Getting Tanner in on the product placement too!
And, of course:
Tanner, getting in some sneaky product placement. You don’t think you noticed the green bottle and associated it with Heineken, but your brain sure did.
I didn’t even notice any of this until I did these articles. I barely even registered him drinking a beer in theater.
You got caught.
“What are you doing?”
“Uhh, you see… what, what had happened was…”
How many times during these franchise articles do we have to use the, “See, what had happened was…” line? People in movies be gettin’ snuck up on.
He wrote this before he even looked at my notes.
“Creating a false tracking system for Silva to follow.”
“Well, uhh… did we say what had happened was already?”
“Excellent thinking. Get him isolated. Send him on the A&I, it’s a direct route. You can monitor his progress more accurately. And confirm it with the traffic cameras.”
When shit gets real, Mallory’s a cool guy. That’s always the mark of a great character arc. Or just a great person. That older guy that catches young people doing crazy shit and you expect them to get mad, but they’re just like, “Motherfucker, I was young once. You save me a beer?”
“But, uh, what if the PM finds out?”
“Well, then we’re all buggered.”
“I’m gonna like working for hi—I mean, he’s not such a dick, after all.”
And now they glance at each other and Tanner’s got a look on his face that says, “I hope he ends up being my boss cause we’ll be at the strip club EVERY GODDAMN DAY.”
And this is where we’ll END PART IV.
– – – – – – – – –
See the other parts here: