Yes, even though I’m at a film festival, I still feel compelled to weigh in on the first trailer for “Skyfall,” the new James Bond film.
As a lifelong fan of the series, one of the things I find most interesting is watching the way the aesthetics of Bond have shifted over the years to reflect wherever mainstream film has gone. You can look at a Bond film and get a sense of what was going on culturally at the time it was made. They are reflections of their moments, time capsules with a body count.
Hiring Sam Mendes for this 50th anniversary edition of the series was an interesting choice because of how different James Bond is than anything he’s shot before, but just based on this teaser trailer, I’d say it looks like that gamble has paid off handsomely. This is a gorgeous introduction to the new film, and I love the word association opening. Daniel Craig’s Bond is wound tighter than any previous incarnation, and that’s one of the reasons I love him in the role. HIs Bond takes full advantage of that license to kill, and not just so he can make a pithy joke and move on. He is a cultured ape, a brute who just happens to look good in a tux, and he is dangerous.
I’m amazed there are people who are still grumbling about the casting. I guess they got so used to one particular type of Bond that they can’t accept this more lethal version. I’m not sure where the idea took root that Bond had to be funny and sort of silly, but many of those fans grew up in the Roger Moore era. Whatever else you want to say about Moore, he was never scary. There was never a sense that he was a ticking time bomb about to go off. We’ll get into it more as I reach the Moore era in my “James Bond Declassified” series, which resumes after the festival, but it’s safe to say that my definition of Bond starts with Fleming’s novels, not with any particular film incarnation.
Roger Deakins, one of the greatest working photographers, looks to be a key collaborator this time out, and I honestly can’t think of any Bond film that has offered up such a hallucinatory first glimpse. There are some truly breathtaking visuals here, and I hope the whole film looks like that. Also, did you catch Javier Bardem there at the end, just a silhouette against the flames engulfing Bond’s ancestral home? Nice. Really nice.
I still don’t really know what “Skyfall” is about, and that’s fine by me. We’ve got months to go still, and this barrage of beautiful images and sudden violence is enough to convince me that we’re in for a treat this November.
“Skyfall” opens in the UK October 26 and in the US November 9, 2012.