MI6 Cybersecurity falls in ‘Skyfall’

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Posted Thu, Nov 8, 2012

BOND IS BACK: Daniel Craig reprises his role as James Bond 007 in “Skyfall.”

“Skyfall,” and the previous Daniel Craig Bond outings, totally ignore the most exciting moment in any James Bond film — the traditional gun barrel opening.

So what’s the big deal?

Because during the gun barrel’s 22 seconds, the audience has the anticipation that this could the biggest Bond of all.

In all fairness, the gun barrel sequence does appear at the end of the picture — a day late and a dollar short.

“Yawn.”

But that’s OK, because “Skyfall” is not a traditional James Bond film. It’s a generic spy thriller. There are no hidden bases inside hollowed out volcanoes, bald villains petting white cats, or mute manservants throwing razor-edge bowler hats.

Even though Bond’s 1964 Aston Martin makes a brief appearance, the cold-war Bond is gone, buried, finished, and the 21st Century Bond has taken his place. In fact, why not retire the Bond character all together and call Daniel Craig 008 — the unseen Double-0 agent who M threaten to replace Bond with on two previous occasions i.e. Goldfinger and The Living Daylights? Admittedly, that would be too much like doing right.

Even though Ian Fleming only wrote 12 books, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have to protect the box office. So they keep cranking out new storylines.

Up until “Skyfall,” James Bond has been a veteran character. However, “Skyfall” boldly goes where no Bond has gone before – to explore James Bond’s roots by utilizing the following principle adopted from the Godzilla Universe: “We know there were previous Bond movies (starring Sean Connery and four other actors), but this is what really happened….”

BONDAGE: Bad guy Silva (Javier Bardem) interrogates James Bond (Daniel Craig.)

Despite a less than memorable title song, performed by Adele, and an uninspired Thomas Newman music score, “Skyfall” opens with a bang. Several MI6 agents are down, and James Bond (Daniel Craig) pursues the assassin through the crowed streets of Istanbul in true 007 fashion i.e.– knocking over fruit carts, demolishing cars and racing a motorcycle across rooftops.

The assassin murdered the agents for their laptop’s hard drive containing names of undercover NATO agents who have infiltrated global terrorist organizations. Never mind why the agents had that vital intel out in the open, it’s just a device to advance an uneven plot that relies heavily on the filmmaker’s reimagining of “Home Alone” at Skyfall (James Bond boyhood manor) as a third act.

The chase inevitably ends up atop a speeding passenger train where Bond is mistakenly shot by his assistant Eve (Naomie Harris) perched behind a sniper’s rifle. Bond falls from the train supposedly to his death. Did I mentioned that the assassin was using Bond as a human shield? Well he was.

STALKING: James Bond (Daniel Craig) closes in on the killer of three MI6 agents.

During Bond’s absents cyber hackers attack MI6 headquarters, and the British government begins to question whether the spy agency is relevant in today’s high-tech world since a list of their undercover agents are slowly leaked onto the Internet by Silva (Javier Bardem), a believed dead Double-O agent with hydrogen cyanide scars and a grudge against M (Judi Dench).

“Skyfall” is a terrific looking film, and Bardem is wonderfully oily, a villain you love to hate. Especially when he plays his version of William Tell with his girlfriend (Bérénice Marlohe) in one of “Skyfall’s” more tense moments.

Craig seems comfortable in the role, but his face is gaunt despite looking physically fit. If the filmmakers were trying to get rid of the pretty boy Bonds, they’ve succeeded. In fact, Bond is suppose to look rough around the edges after being shot, so maybe it works. However, Craig really doesn’t look good.

“Skyfall” reintroduces a new Moneypenny and Q (Ben Whishaw), a geekish computer nerd who tells Bond he can do more damage on his lap top sitting in his pajamas than he could do in a year in the field.

However, Q’s computer prowess fails to keep Silva from reeking havoc on the MI6 computer system, and blowing up half of MI6 headquarters. “Skyfall’s” final scene will be familiar territory to hardcore fans who have followed the series since “Dr. No.” Craig is rumored to have signed on for two more Bond films, so the franchise will continue and Craig will maintain its legacy.

THE SPYS WHO LOVED ME

The Bond: Film critics and 007-hardliners agree that “great Scot” Sir Sean Connery is James Bond— even though Connery never enjoyed playing the role which brought him international fame. Connery’s films were events. And his onscreen persona made him larger than life, so much so that “Thunderball” was Christmas 1965. Pierce Brosnan says, “Sean is the man.”

The What’s His Face Bond: Former car salesman and fashion model, Aussy George Lazenby’s only sin was having the unfortunate luck of being the first actor to play James Bond after icon Sean Connery vacated his shoulder holster. Feeling pressure from the press, fans and battling an inflated ego, Lazenby pulled the biggest bone-headed stunt in film history, he quit playing James Bond after one picture — which is arguably the best one of the series.

The Sainted Bond: Hardliners found television’s The Saint, Roger Moore’s Bond too lite compared to Connery’s edgier 007. Unlike Connery, Moore enjoyed playing James Bond despite harsh criticism from the press and fans about his flippantness. Moore’s films were the highest grossing and most entertaining of Bond films thus far. He seldom receives credit for reviving the sagging series at the box office during the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The Thespian Bond: Although he’s undoubtly a better actor out of all the Bonds, including Oscar-winner Sean Connery, hardliners found that Shakespearean trained Timothy Dalton’s brooding Bond was licensed to bore. But ah, that’s the rub. Dalton’s interpretation was exactly the way Bond creator Ian Fleming originally penned his hero. But it was not to be.

The Remington Bond: Like Roger Moore, television’s Remington Steele’s Pierce Brosnan enjoyed playing James Bond, having opted to do at least five films — three more than he had originally contracted. Bronsan seems to be a comfortable fit according to fans, combining the wit of Roger Moore and the ruthlessness of Sean Connery. Brosnan said he felt gutted after he was abruptly fired in 2004 by Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

Top Five Bond films B.C. (Before Craig):

1. Goldfinger (1964): The essential Bond. Period. “Goldfinger” set the mood, pace and standards for the series.

2. From Russia With Love (1963): Also essential because the plot closely follows Fleming’s novel. FRWL can stand alone in the spy genre.

3. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): It was the perfect vehicle for Roger Moore’s brand of Bond lite. TSWLM’s action-packed pre-credit sequence still hasn’t been topped.

4. For Your Eyes Only (1981): Moore’s usually jovial Bond gets seriously roughed up thus giving his character more of an edge and realism.

5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): Should have been ranked number one or two, save for the absence of Sean Connery. This is the one film that would have given Connery a chance to act — a grievance he constantly aired during his tenure.

Bottom Five:

Live and Let Die (1973): Roger Moore’s debut as James Bond highlights a ridiculous plot about voodoo, drugs and a redneck sheriff. Black characers looked like buffoons. The title song by Paul McCartney and Wings is better than the movie.

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974): A near miss. Ian Flemming’s cousin Christopher Lee upstaging Roger Moore is more interesting than the lame plot involving solving the energy crisis.

A View To A Kill (1985): Roger Moore was getting long in the tooth and painful to watch in action sequences. “A View To A Kill’s” implausible plot about an ex-KGB agent trying to sink Silcon Valley into the ocean. The title song by Duran Duran is better than the movie.

Diamonds Are Forever (1972): Sean Connery seemed old, tried, bored and anxious to collect his paycheck. Diamonds was actually the first “Looney Toon” Bond, foreshadowing the coming of Roger Moore.

Licence To Kill (1989): Timothy Dalton’s second outing as James Bond is forgettable as its boring plot about drug smuggling seems more from “Law and Order” than from the pages of Ian Fleming.

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About Laurence Washington

Laurence Washington is an award-winning writer and journalism professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Laurence Washington

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