The century is the 21st according to one of the popular counting methods and ‘Bond, James Bond’ is still spoken from the screen by a man dressed in a tuxedo with a glass of a selected cocktail in hand. Yet, very many things are new in the last few films in the series (now at #23 if I am not mistaken) and the traditional casino scenes, the exotic locations, the gadgets and even the fabulous Bond girls, without being completely pushed to the back seats are secondary in the recently released ‘Skyfall’. It’s a new world, a world where the good guys in the service of Her Majesty are no longer fighting the bad guys on the other side of the Iron Curtain, as there is no longer any such Curtain.  Not only the enemy is no longer clearly defined by politics or nationality, but he can actually be one of ‘us’. Bond himself is no longer an infallible gentleman feeling no pain and encountering no failure, he actually fails, and falls, and is wounded – physically and psychologically. Daniel Craig is a completely different type of actor than the first (big) names who took the role, he is not only better, but also has a much more distinct human dimension. No longer a super-hero. Hardly a hero.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1074638/

 

Is the new James Bond better? I would say yes, but not much better. Certainly, the realistic touch brought by director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) is an interesting turn. For the first time maybe in a film in the James Bond series we are watching a Bond and an ‘M’ which are not only flesh and blood, but also complex human beings, with doubts and dilemmas that we can understand and resonate with. The question however for me is to what extent these human dimensions work in the context of a mega-action series whose rules are not only set from start but also known by almost anybody who chooses to come and see the film. This is a film I liked, but now, two or three hours after I watched it I can say that I liked it because of the same good all reasons that I liked all good James Bond films – for the fabulous action scenes (and there are a few memorable ones in the film), for the variations on the old familiar characters (and I loved the new ‘Q’) and for the balance between tradition and innovation. It is not for the psychological deepness of the characters that I (and many other fans) go to see a Bond film. The problem is not that the characters are not deep and real, but that these aspects of the film are too overloaded, and if the film seems to be a bit too long it is just because of these.

 

(video source SonyPictures)

 

Some of the acting is very much to the point. Judi Dench gives a great performance (possibly her last one in the series) which puts in shadow all other characters in what is probably the first Bond film without a real Bond girl to receive consistent screen time. Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomi Harris mark the new generation that will probably take further familiar characters in the next 21st century installments, while Javier Bardem adds his name to the illustrious series of Bond villains. Times are achangin’ and so are slowly the Bond films. For good? We still are too see, but there are signs it’s the right direction. If we are to look back 50 years after, it’s only Her Majesty who did not really change since the series started!