So the new Skyfall trailer has debuted, bringing us a first look at Javier Bardem’s villain, Silva, Ben Whishaw’s Q in ‘action’, and a sense of the film’s fuller plot. Here are ten things we learned.
And be warned: there are spoilers aplenty here, so if you want to go into Bond 23 a Skyfall virgin, best avoid. If not, then welcome. We've been expecting you...
Well, sort of. The opening sequence of Skyfall, seen here in a fair amount of detail involving a besuited Bond battling some baddies on top of a moving freight train, results in the death of Bond, when field agent Eve (Naomie Harris) shoots him by mistake. Bond is sent tumbling off a bridge into a river, Bourne-style, forcing M to write his obituary. Of course, he’s not really dead, but it seems to be a closer shave than the last time a Bond pre-credits sequence asked us to believe that the Big Man had snuffed it, back in You Only Live Twice. He also ‘died’ in From Russia With Love, although that was a bloke wearing a Bond mask. Die Another Day also grappled with the idea of a presumed-lost Bond returning to society after a bit of a break.
Interestingly enough, this is the second time that we’ve seen someone write Bond’s obituary. Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) power-typed one in Tomorrow Never Dies, which begs the question – given that 007 is a secret agent, who are these obits for? Who’s going to publish them?
UPDATE: Some readers have suggested that Eve is ordered by M to shoot Bond, which certainly looks like a possibility upon multiple viewings. If so, this makes Skyfall hugely interesting - is M ordering Bond's death as a way of covering her tracks? Or as a punishment? Is this why Bond shows up unannounced at her house later on?
It’s been widely acknowledged, right from the off, that the plot of Skyfall would revolve around Judi Dench’s M, a prior mistake, and the idea of accountability for those mistakes. It’s also known that Javier Bardem’s villain, Silva, would come gunning for M. Clearly, he mounts an all-out attack on both her and MI6, blowing the London offices of the organization sky-high. Is this a cover for him to don a police uniform amid the ensuing chaos and, as strongly implied by the end of the trailer, come gun barrel-to-face with M? Is this the end for Dench, after seven Bond films?
And what is that mistake that M makes? Well, as Ralph Fiennes’ MI6 man, Mallory, says, she was responsible for the loss of a hard drive containing data on all undercover MI6 agents across the world. It would seem that the opening sequence catalogues Bond’s attempts to retrieve the data, and the loss of the disc might also explain that haunting shot of M standing beside a row of coffins draped in Union Jacks. Is this the price others have paid for her mistake? And will she also now pay the ultimate price?
Mendes’ movie seems to be embracing many elements of classic Bondery (we’ll get to some of those later), and Silva’s flamboyant villainy would seem to be one of those. Bleached blond, slightly effete and chillingly confident in his abilities, Silva seems to be a throwback to Bond villains like Max Zorin and even Auric Goldfinger. Like those classic baddies, he seems to capture Bond, and then keep him alive just so he can show off his prowess. But, unlike most Bond villains, he also seems to be able to handle himself, and is an intimidating physical presence. Note the scene, presumably set before the MI6 attack, where M confronts a captured Silva, locked away like Hannibal Lecter in a glass cell. Clearly, this man is not to be trusted.
Skyfall seems to be about the repercussions of past mistakes, and Silva – interestingly enough – seems to be one of M’s biggest past mistakes. We’re not sure how, at this stage, but the two certainly have some history together. “The two survivors,” he says to Bond, “This is what she made us.” Was Silva a former agent in some way? Or did M do something that made him what he is today? It’s certainly intriguing, and may explain the burning hatred he seems to have for her. Update: here's a thought - what if M did to Silva what she may do to Bond at the beginning of the movie, and ordered his death for the greater good? And what if, like Bond, he escaped that fate? If that were the case, harbouring thoughts of revenge would be a fairly rational response...
Although Skyfall will be crammed with wall-to-wall action, the indications are that Silva’s grand plan, above and beyond targeting M, may revolve around computer hacking in some way. Look at the scene where he talks to Bond – they’re surrounded by hard drives, adding up to some serious firepower. Maybe Bond would be better off changing his assignation to 00101010101?
We’ve seen Ben Whishaw’s Q already, but this is the first chance we have to see him in action, as it were, briefing a bemused Bond at the National Gallery in London. Again, those elements of classic Bond are there – the new Walther PPK, a Q briefing scene – but given enough of a twist to keep it interesting. Here, the twist is that 00’s new Quartermaster is much younger, nerdier and tech-savvy than Bond. Love the anorak.
Another Bond tradition is neatly ticked off in Skyfall, with 007 – who only got his end away once in Quantum Of Solace, an unfortunate chain of events that seems to be rectified here – torn between two Bond girls; a ‘good’ Bond girl (Harris’ Eve, her relationship with Bond presumably given an extra frisson due to, well, her shooting him earlier on) and a ‘bad’ Bond girl, Silva’s lover, Severine (Berenice Marlohe). Following in the footsteps of Pussy Galore, Solitaire and Licence To Kill’s Lupe Lamora, Bond hits Silva where it hurts by seducing the woman he loves in a shower scene we’re contractually obligated to call ‘steamy’. This may not end well for Severine, we’re guessing. Well, the shower scene might end very well for her, but the whole cheating on Silva thing is not likely to pan out brilliantly.
As with any Bond film, Jimmy gets around enough to qualify for an Avios gold card. Skyfall takes him to Istanbul – for the opening sequence, something confirmed by M's half-written obituary, which claims that Bond was 'killed' while on a mission in Turkey – Shanghai, where he appears to make first contact with Severine on his hunt for Silva, and Scotland. One shot sees a helicopter approach a lodge in Scotland – this may be Skyfall Lodge, from which the film takes its name. It could be here where Bond rocks up with a shotgun, a seriously pissed-off expression and, in another nod to Bonds past, an Aston Martin DB5.
Any worries that Mendes’ background in both theatre and ‘proper’ films might mean that Skyfall would just be a series of talking heads have been well and truly discounted by the trailer. The opening sequence on the train, featuring Bond-on-a-bike (blah blah something powerful between his legs etc. etc.) and one of the best nonchalant cuff checks in Bond history, looks epic, as does the foot chase on the London Underground that culminates in that shot of a tube train derailing and ploughing through a wall. There are hints of other setpieces – a fight between Bond and an unidentified foe on a frozen lake – but we imagine that there’s a lot more to come from this.
Fancy watching the trailer again?