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Technofiction review of Skyfall (2012)

Summary

It is wondrous how consistently amazing the opening stunts and credit rolls for Bond movies are. Each and every one of them is an innovator. If they haven’t already, Broccoli and company should make a DVD collection of the opening stunts and credit rolls. They would be a film makers delight. The story part of Skyfall is, sadly, not so innovative. There are lots of Technofiction holes.

A quick summary of the story is there’s a single bad guy, Silva, who’s got a grudge against M and wants to kill her face-to-face. He’s a bad guy with supervillainish abilities to organize covert attacks, he’s a Bond at his prime gone bad. The major Technofiction flaw is that this one guy can organize a long series of successful attacks that has the whole of MI6 on the run. Whew! Even evil empires couldn’t do that!

The fun part of the movie is that we are carried along on a classic Bond travelogue as we visit visually interesting places in Istanbul, Shanghai, Macao and the Scottish highlands.

Details

We get to see neat places and they are visually interesting, but what happens in these places is pretty conventional, and pretty silly when viewed from an internal consistency point of view. Here are the examples:

o The first villain Bond pursues, not Silva, does an assassination in Shanghai. The setting is really neat: A completely empty, completely glass-walled floor of a skyscraper. The silly parts are: First, that the assassin shoots his way into this near empty building, he doesn’t sneak or talk his way by the single night watchman. Second, the guy he assassinates is in the building adjacent, in a fancy suite, setting down to admire some expensive artwork he’s presumably about to buy. Innovative, but way too dramatic. It would make sense if this target was high profile and his killers wanted to make the point to his buddies around him that they were vulnerable, anywhere and anytime. But if that was the case, this guy should have been making a boardroom presentation or bidding at an exclusive art auction, not sitting among only servants staring at a single painting. So, neat visually, but poor story.

o After that Silva rips up MI6 security both cyberly and physically. He also slips through London tube, Whitehall, and Scottish physical security with equal ease. Most impressive… too impressive. This is one guy, a rogue guy, who has dozens of nameless thugs around him, but that’s it. It’s a classic bad guy inconsistency: How did he marshall all these resources without some kind of management team? Once again, the inconsistency is he’s doing what evil empires can’t.

o The worst inconsistency is when Bond and M flee to Skyfall, an isolated mansion in the Scottish highlands. The motivation for doing this is, “If we can’t beat this guy with all our tech and resources, we’ll beat him mano a mano in a bare knuckles standup fight.” Oh my! This guy who has been double dealing all through the movie is going to show up with just knuckles? Nope, doesn’t happen, and my belief suspension is shattered by all the silliness of what happens in that last act. I won’t go into details.

In sum, this movie is a ski slope. It’s wondrous and exciting at the start, then downhill through all the rest.

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