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Skyfall

The conceptual seam that runs through the latest James Bond movie, SKYFALL, is time. Time passing, making up for lost time, time catching up with you, running out of time. There is also a line, both chilling and laconic, that pithily encapsulates the many perilous situations that Bond has found himself in down the years, an acknowledgement that this isn’t the first time this has happened. “Some men are coming to kill us... we’re going to kill them first”. It could almost be 007’s mission statement over the run of 23 films, although, of course, there is a lot more going on in SKYFALL than that off-the-cuff summary suggests.

As with any James Bond outing, SKYFALL has to address and acknowledge certain tropes and traditions that are crucial to the most successful entries in the franchise. It is a Bond recipe, a list of ingredients that can be varied, or even omitted, on the whim of the chef, in this case director Sam Mendes. The essentials are – in no particular order – chilling villains, cunning gadgets, gorgeous cars, bone-crunching fights, femmes fatales, dizzying chases, dramatic explosions and exotic locations.

In SKYFALL all of these are present and correct in various proportions, expertly blended by Mendes. But for any Bond film to truly work there has to be, at the heart of it, a very special 007. “He was good looking, in a dark, rather cruel way”, wrote Ian Fleming of his creation. In SKYFALL, as in his previous outings, Daniel Craig brings to Bond not a physical darkness, but a darkness of the soul. Time – which as we shall see, is a crucial element to SKYFALL - has left its scars on Bond, both inside and out. “How much do you know about fear?” he is asked. “All there is”. In SKYFALL, you believe Craig’s Bond has a Licence to Kill and is willing to use it.

Sophistication

But the actor who plays 007 must have other important attributes beyond ruthlessness – he has to convincingly inhabit the part of the suave spy, the connoisseur of the finest things in life, equally at ease in casino, boardroom or bedroom and who knows how to dress for all of them, a man who shoots his cuffs just as well as he does his pistol. Craig does this with his customary aplomb. The light grey suit he wears early in the movie is an echo of the ‘60s – sharp, tight, single-vented – although the cut and fabrics are bang up-to-date, to allow more freedom of movement. It is combined with chukka boots, not the traditional pairing, perhaps, for a lightweight city suit, but offering great ankle support when he is forced to leap on a Honda CRF250R and tear through the streets of Istanbul.

The gun is, naturally, a Walther. This time a PPK S 9mm Short, which comes, courtesy of Q (Ben Whishaw), with a coded grip that reads Bond’s palm print so it can’t be fired by anyone else. As for cars, long-term fans are allowed to indulge in a little Connery-era with the re-appearance of the classic DB5, which first appeared to stunning effect in Goldfinger, and really has never been surpassed as the car that epitomizes Bond’s wheels.

Beautiful women you ask? That’s one ingredient of the Bond movie recipe that is never left on the shelf, and there is a generous helping here in the shapes of Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe and Tonia Sotiropoulou.


Resurrection

And then there is the watch. Or watches. Two appear in SKYFALL, a black-dialled OMEGA Planet Ocean 600M and an OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra, with its striking blue dial – the first time this coloured face has ever graced that particular model. The former is a rugged working watch suitable for a professional diver that manages to be remarkably handsome; the Aqua Terra, with its softer textures and colours, is ideal for doubling a night on the town with something more adrenaline-fuelled. Both feature the latest OMEGA calibre 8500 movement, self-winding chronometer with a 60-hour power reserve. Like every Bond accessory, the pair have to be robust enough to survive the lifestyle – running, jumping, fighting, shooting, occasionally making love – of a top flight secret agent and incorporates a fistful of anti-shock features which ensure Bond will always be at the right place at precisely the right time, no matter how rough the journey is getting there.

As already noted, time is at the heart of the plot of SKYFALL. The engine driving events is that during her career M (Judi Dench) has made some questionable decisions, and they come back to haunt her, severely testing the loyalty and friendship of 007. Plus – this should come as no surprise – Bond has limited time to put things right.

As with all the most satisfying appearances of Bond, SKYFALL skilfully skips back and forth between respect for the heritage of the brand and the desire to push it into fresh territory, while subtly acknowledging the game it is playing. Witness this exchange, between Bond and his nemesis, Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), who appears to have the upper hand. “Everybody needs a hobby”, says 007.”‘So, what’s yours?” asks Silva. “Resurrection”, replies Bond.

In SKYFALL, he is resurrected in style. Welcome back, Mr. Bond. You’ve been missed.


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