Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My Thoughts on Skyfall

I just got back from watching Skyfall with my family. Some aspects of the movie seriously pissed me off and I need to vent. However, my sister Diane is absolutely uninterested in hearing me rant about the faults of the movie — she prefers to just sit back and enjoy and not think too critically about something that's meant to be entertainment. (She thinks I'm a terrible person to watch movies with, and also a terrible person to play games with. She's probably right.) So I've decided to rant on my blog instead, lucky you.

// WARNING: Major spoilers for Skyfall ahead. If you haven't seen the movie, proceed at your own risk. //

The movie began pleasantly enough, with a fun action sequence to start us off. I was much entertained by the motorcycle chase, with Bond and the mercenary riding up stairs and on roofs and through windows. The theme song and intro impressed me, too — so creative and haunting. The great opening definitely raised my expectations for the film.

Things were good for the first half. I thought it was great that we got to see Bond struggle with his uncooperative, imperfect body instead of having everything come easily to him. It made him less boring. The very understated gadget exchange was different and amusing. And his big fight in Shanghai was visually interesting, too, with the lights and glass doors and changing images.

(Though when he got to Macau, I did wonder if the komodo dragons were really that dangerous in real life, or if they were victims of character assassination. But the movie is right about this: according to Wikipedia, komodo dragons are hunters whose diet consists mainly of deer, and they have been known to attack humans.)

The first (and main) thing that really pissed me off happened on Silva's island. Silva ties up Severine, the Bond girl, and ties her to a boulder. He places a shot of scotch on her head and tells her to stay still, then tells Bond that whoever shoots the shot off her head wins. Bond goes first, and, having had difficulty with his marksmanship due to his earlier injury, misses both her and the shot glass.

And then Silva straight up shoots Severine, and she DIES, and the shot glass falls to the ground, completely unscathed. "A waste, isn't it?" asks Silva (paraphrased), and Bond says, "A waste of good scotch" (paraphrase again), then proceeds to take out all of Silva's henchmen.

UGHHHHHH SERIOUSLY??? I was soooo upset that Severine was allowed to die, and that Bond didn't even show any remorse for failing to save her. She was forgotten, and his only reaction at her death was a quip about the scotch — probably to throw Silva off, but still! A person dies right in front of him because he can't shoot straight and shouldn't have been allowed to go active, and he thinks the scotch is a waste?! I hate that she's shown as expendable. She'd asked for help, she'd shown such fear of Silva, she'd wanted freedom so badly, she'd given Bond what he wanted and hoped he'd free her... and then he betrayed her and let her die. I can't believe he freaking let her die. Pisses me off so much. Stupid, incompetent, useless Bond. I get that Bond girls don't always have happy endings, but she definitely did not deserve to die that way, when she'd feared so much and hoped so much. She didn't deserve to be used and cast aside by both Silva and the man she'd helped and hoped would help her. And they both just forgot all about and never gave her a second thought — ugh I hated Bond so much when that happened. Heartless psychopath.

(Side note: my sister didn't even realized she'd died in that scene! She thought Silva had shot the glass, but I reminded her the shot glass was whole when Severine slumped over and the glass landed on the ground. I don't think she felt as incensed as I did even after I pointed it out, though. But she might've just been trying to get me to shut up.)

And Bond's incompetence doesn't even stop there. Maybe I've seen too many heist movies, but when I found out they'd moved all of Silva's stuff to the MI6 base and was attempting to crack into it there, I immediately thought, "Dude, this is such a BAD IDEA. Don't you know that you should never bring anything created by the enemy into your most secure hideout?" I mean, there have been so many plots where someone wanted to get something into a highly secure area and the only way to do so was to get caught or let the enemy capture it. And then they hook up their own system to the villain's machine and start messing around on it with no precautions whatsoever?! Dear god, what a bunch of idiots. I was not at all surprised by what happened next, because honestly, have you guys never heard of a Trojan horse? Especially after he's already shown that he can totally hack your system to bits? Stupid idiots.

So then they manage to keep Silva from killing M or anyone else important, just nameless policemen there to serve as redshirts. Bond's brilliant plan after that? Take M to Bond's family mansion in Scotland and wait for Silva to catch up to them. He, M, and his huntsman have incredibly limited resources to work with, and they decide to set up booby traps in the mansion. Seriously, that's his brilliant plan. Go somewhere and to hell with weapons and technology, because apparently he and M are too old to keep up with all the newfangled tech available nowadays.

It's the stupidest idea ever. Three people, all middle-aged or older, hiding out in a mansion with a few guns and a couple homemade booby traps, against a man who is rich and clever enough (or should be) to hire a huge number of trained mercenaries, high-tech weapons, and surveillance equipment? Look, that's such a stupid idea the writers even had to dumb down the villain to get Bond out alive. Seriously, for someone who is supposedly a top agent, James Bond is severely lacking good decision-making skills.

This is evidenced by the way he totally failed. Look, they already made Silva dumber than he ought to be, just to give Bond a chance. First he sends some mercenaries on foot with what seems to be very little reconnaissance, planning, protection, training, or communication. I get that it's supposed to be a surprise attack, but it wouldn't hurt for them to be a little more prepared, or at least have some stuff other than guns. So they all wander willy-nilly to the mansion, get gunned down by Bond hiding in his car, and then fall to booby traps and two old people with guns. Definitely seems like Silva could have afforded to outfit his guys with better gear and more information.

I guess he underestimated Bond, but these people know they're in danger and went there to hide for a reason, and they're MI6, so I dunno, it makes sense to prepare for at least some defense, even if you're expecting it to be a surprise attack, right? I mean, there could've been hidden minefields all over the grounds and his mercenaries might've blown sky-high before they even got to the mansion. Some advance thinking would've been a good idea, and from the elaborate planning we saw from him earlier in the movie, it's hard to believe he would suddenly switch from that to "hey you guys just go walk in the mansion and kill them" and that's it. Which makes me think he had to be dumbed down because Bond's plan was so stupid, but whatever, let's just say he was overeager and overconfident and so he didn't really think it through.

Anyway, Silva shows up in a helicopter, except he only has one, which is a shame because I'm sure he could've afforded to bring more vehicles and equipment than one helicopter. But he makes do and throws grenades in the house, which is a good move, except why didn't he give the other team some and tell them to just stay outside and try to smoke them out? Anyway, it's working, and the huntsman and M run out of the house and start wandering around on the grounds, basically defenseless. Great plan, Bond. Seriously, once you guys get smoked out of the house there is pretty much nothing you can do against a bunch of mercenaries and helicopters. And that totally should've been Silva's strategy from the beginning, except him being an obsessed villain means he wants to deal with M personally, which is kinda his downfall (in addition to the other stuff, I mean). If he'd been ok with blowing up the house in the first place, things could've moved more quickly. And also why didn't he have any more backup? And why wasn't he taking better advantage of the vast resources at his disposal to make sure his surprise attack can't fail? Seriously, everything had to be dumbed down for Mr. Bond because he can't come up with any good plans.

And the stupidest thing is that, despite all that, Bond didn't even succeed in the end. Silva basically got everything he wanted. Sure, he'd have preferred a murder-suicide with M, but in the end, they both died, so that's effectively the same, right? Oh fine, I guess Bond can comfort himself with the fact that M didn't die in the exact way Silva wanted, but she still died, so I'd say he still failed. And it's not like him killing Silva was really a big victory, except symbolically, since Silva would've died anyway had things gone his way.

So all in all Bond had a stupid plan that was so badly executed it gave the villain everything he wanted, except maybe not in the precise way he wanted, but hey, what's a couple of small details. M died, he died, his entire elaborate plan got him his end goals. Congrats to the antagonist; well-played. Too bad your opponent was useless.

I mean, seriously. Bond's struggles in the beginning made him interesting, sure, but as the movie went on and his incompetence grew rather than decreased, I became more and more frustrated at him. Not only was he just as bad as Silva in using and discarding Severine, he was a complete idiot who fell headfirst into Silva's trap and also devised a plan of his own that would've failed miserably had Silva not come down with Sudden Idiocy Syndrome. And even with Silva on a sub-prime intelligence level, Bond still managed to get M killed. Good job, loser. Honestly, the only good thing about his plan was that he probably saved a bunch of civilians, but I'm pretty sure that was an unintentional side effect since we've already seen how heartless he is. Sure, he cares about his fellow agents, but civilians who get in the way? Psh, they don't count as people.

So yeah, that pretty much covers the issues I had with Skyfall. You can probably see why I didn't really enjoy the movie much (and maybe even why my sister had no desire to listen to my rant). Sure, there are ways to rationalize away some of these complaints, but I'm just not willing to grant this movie the benefit of the doubt because I'm so pissed off. Deal with it.

The song was great, though! Too bad it was wasted on this crap.


  1. Pre-reading: http://maybegenius.blogspot.com/2012/12/how-i-met-your-mother-cuddly-sexism.html
    (I think you follow Steph so you may have already seen that, but it's relevant to my comments.)

    I had some problems with Skyfall too, though overall I enjoyed it. I mean, I think you have to go in knowing what it is: a BOND movie. They are, almost by design/definition, going to be these throwback, macho-mindset stories.

    I really think the interpretation of the shooting scene was supposed to be that Bond did care about Severine, hence trying to save her by participating in the contest and hoping he was good enough (b/c if not, Silva wasn't going to let her walk anyway, so Bond was her only chance at maybe surviving). But then he lost, and he realized how far he had fallen and how much he had failed someone he cared about.

    (PS: Have you seen other bond movies? They ALWAYS kill off the first girl as a way of giving Bond a personal connection/grudge against the bad guy.)

    But what skeeved me out was (SPOILERS) him sneaking into her shower unannounced, b/c I feel like that sends an AWFUL message to impressionable young men, like, "Hey guys, it's totally hot when you creep up on a naked woman in her private space, without asking or even alerting her to your presence."

    And then what disappointed me (although there's a flipside to this...) was when Eve decided the field work "wasn't for her" and now she's just the sexy secretary. (Flipside: They've cast a beautiful black female who has proven some mettle with Bond in a recurring franchise role.)

    Other than those bits, which I ultimately chose to ignore/forgive for the sake of "enjoying problematic media," I did enjoy the movie. It was, as one witty illustrator said, like Home Alone meets Bourne Identity, hehehe. And I thought Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem (especially Bardem!!) were excellent.

  2. Hm, yeah, I think the part of the problem is that I'm not a huge Bond fan and haven't seen enough of them. I do recall other Bond girls dying, but it's been a while and I think some of them were villains. I guess I expect too much out of Bond.

    Yeah, the shower scene bothered me too, but more in a "ugh, rolling my eyes" way than super pissed off. Now I wonder if it's supposed to be a nod to Psycho LOL.

    I didn't really give Eve's decision that much thought -- field work does seem tough and, like she said, it's not for everyone. But yes, since she's the only female field agent we meet, her move ends up suggesting that women in general are more suited to being secretaries rather than an individual choice/preference, which is unfortunate.

    Home Along vs. Bourne Identity! Haha, that's good. But the Home Alone aspect annoyed me SO MUCH because it's such a stupid plan (and works very poorly for a Bond film, I feel). I think by the end of the movie I was raging a lot more about the characters' complete incompetence and idiocy than the subtle messages you mentioned. Glad you enjoyed the movie overall, though! :)

  3. I didn't know she died either! I thought he scared her into flinching and dropping the shot glass. sigh.