In the world of James Bond, super-agent for the British government, we expect girls, guns, and gadgets galore, but what we do not usually expect is great depth. Director Sam Mendes and actor Daniel Craig are not opposed to this history; rather, they mine it for all it’s worth while extending the metaphor of “license to kill” to encompass so much more. In doing so, Skyfall may just be the best Bond movie ever, or at least one of the top two or three. This is because despite all the usual and expected trappings, we get more into Bond’s psyche and history, thus understanding him more than as a caricature of our imaginations. The James Bond films inspire passion, with every new film generating debate about what a Bond film is supposed to be and how much the new film compares to the rest. The narrative and style of the Bond films have to varying degrees always encapsulated both Cold War paranoias and rampant post World War II economic growth. While a distinctively English character, the values that Bond perpetuates translate very directly to an American audience, and throughout the 50 years of Bond films the celebration of English national pride has often veered from sincere to gentle parody.
Skyfall is a throw back to the easier going and less serious style of Bond films that seem to occur whenever a new leading actor has settled into the role. Skyfall is better directed than Quantum of Solace, but it declares its disinterest in maintaining the series’ edgier potential in the opening sequences that are over-the-top and unbelievable, although not in a way that is outrageous enough to be truly exciting. Instead, it’s proudly an old-fashioned ‘silly Bond’.
Industry reports suggest Skyfall will take at least $70m (£44m) in North America on opening, beating the previous best for a Bond film, $67m for 2008’s Quantum of Solace. The 23rd 007 outing is well on course to become the highest-grossing film in the series so far, ahead of the $594m total posted by Craig debut Casino Royale in 2006.