Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Gaspar Noé's List of 10 Favorite Films Makes Perfect, Terrifying Sense Gaspar Noé's List of 10 Favorite Films Makes Perfect, Terrifying Sense Jon Hamm Wants You to Know There's Hope for Don Draper After 'Mad Men' Jon Hamm Wants You to Know There's Hope for Don Draper After 'Mad Men' Women Fight Back at Cannes, From Megan Ellison to Emily Blunt Women Fight Back at Cannes, From Megan Ellison to Emily Blunt Of Time & Life: How 'Mad Men' Remade Television Of Time & Life: How 'Mad Men' Remade Television Nikki Finke Returns Nikki Finke Returns Cannes Goes Crazy for Jeremy Saulnier's Gruesome Neo-Nazis vs. Punks Horror 'Green Room' Cannes Goes Crazy for Jeremy Saulnier's Gruesome Neo-Nazis vs. Punks Horror 'Green Room' Cannes Festival Is Dominated by Two Hollywood Masters Cannes Festival Is Dominated by Two Hollywood Masters Top Ten Takeaways: Sequels Rule as Women Boost 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Also Strong Top Ten Takeaways: Sequels Rule as Women Boost 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Also Strong Cannes: Directors from Fincher to Scorsese Revisit Truffaut's Famous Interview with Hitchcock Cannes: Directors from Fincher to Scorsese Revisit Truffaut's Famous Interview with Hitchcock 'Pitch Perfect 2' Outperforms 'Mad Max: Fury Road'; 'Ultron' Is Now Top 2015 Release 'Pitch Perfect 2' Outperforms 'Mad Max: Fury Road'; 'Ultron' Is Now Top 2015 Release Kristen Stewart Re-Teams with Her 'Sils Maria' Director for Ghost Story Set in Fashion World Kristen Stewart Re-Teams with Her 'Sils Maria' Director for Ghost Story Set in Fashion World Watch: Netflix's Ted Sarandos Heckled at Cannes, Gets Weinstein on His Feet During Heated Debate (VIDEO) Watch: Netflix's Ted Sarandos Heckled at Cannes, Gets Weinstein on His Feet During Heated Debate (VIDEO) George Miller and DP John Seale Go Inside 'Mad Max: Fury Road': "It Was Like Being in a Video Game" George Miller and DP John Seale Go Inside 'Mad Max: Fury Road': "It Was Like Being in a Video Game" Natalie Portman's Passion Project 'Tale of Love and Darkness' Splits Cannes Critics Natalie Portman's Passion Project 'Tale of Love and Darkness' Splits Cannes Critics Cannes: 'Dogtooth' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Scores with Surreal, Macabre 'The Lobster' (Review and Roundup) Cannes: 'Dogtooth' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Scores with Surreal, Macabre 'The Lobster' (Review and Roundup) Weinstein Co. Offers Strong Slate at Cannes Weinstein Co. Offers Strong Slate at Cannes 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Auteur George Miller Does It His Way, No Matter How Long It Takes 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Auteur George Miller Does It His Way, No Matter How Long It Takes The Top 20 Episodes of 'Mad Men' The Top 20 Episodes of 'Mad Men' How the 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Score Paid Homage to Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' How the 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Score Paid Homage to Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A)

Bond Expert Deciphers Skyfall Intelligence, Craig's Development as 007

Photo of Bill Desowitz By Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood November 3, 2011 at 11:01AM

So what have we learned after Thursday's press conference in London about Bond 23? Bill Desowitz, who is writing a book about the Bond films, parses the available 007 intelligence.
0
Thompson on Hollywood

So what have we learned after Thursday's press conference in London about Bond 23? Bill Desowitz, who is writing a book about the Bond films, parses the available 007 intelligence.

Well, it is indeed called Skyfall, and, like Quantum of Solace, its meaning is directly tied to the emotional context of the story. In this case, presumably a Chicken Little metaphor since it's all about the crucible between Daniel Craig's Bond and Judi Dench's M, when MI6 is attacked and Bond is forced to dig up her troubled past to destroy the threat.

Just the kind of dramatic underpinning to draw Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) to the Bond franchise along with a classy cast that includes Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, and Albert Finney. But then this is no ordinary Bond film in honor of next year's 50th anniversary of the franchise (it opens Nov. 9, 2012 in North America). It's Craig's first fully formed portrayal of 007 after enduring his grueling rite of passage, and the film likely to define his legacy as Bond. So far, he's clearly shown a grittier and more grounded Bond -- the antithesis of the effortless Sean Connery. So it'll be interesting to observe how much Craig's Bond has matured since 2008's Quantum of Solace (the longest break between films for a Bond actor), and to what degree he's cultivated an instinct for espionage.

Thompson on Hollywood
Speaking of Connery, on this very date 50 years ago, the wild Scot, who moved like a panther on the prowl, was announced as James Bond for Dr. No. So it's very fitting that they not only held the press conference today but have also commenced shooting Skyfallin London.

But then the dirty little secret about Mendes is that he was actually approached after American Beauty to direct Die Another Day. He told me years ago that he was very flattered but that it just wasn't the right fit. How ironic that Mendes wound up directing Craig in Road to Perdition and has now found his way to Bond through the more appropriate Skyfall. Incidentally, Craig and Mendes both became fans of the franchise with Roger Moore's Live and Let Die.

Meanwhile, a few other details have been confirmed today: Bardem plays the new baddie, and Berenice Marlohe appears as the latest Bond girl (seductively named Severin). However, Naomie Harris portrays a field agent named Eve, not M's assistant, Miss Moneypenny.

Still, according to Mendes, there are "lots of surprises," so we'll just have to wait and see if arch rival Blofeld makes his rumored return and what shocking revelation screenwriter Peter Morgan offered before departing that remains the seed of the story. Perhaps that's why they were mum today about the identities of Fiennes and Finney (still unconfirmed as M's superior).

But Mendes did confirm that he has no intention of excising the Bondian action, which takes 007 to Istanbul, Shanghai, and Scotland (his ancestral home as well as Connery country). In fact, Mendes said he's looking forward to mixing action with drama and working closely with second unit director Alexander Witt. One Bond insider even divulged that Mendes has already displayed a better facility for action than Quantum's Marc Forster.

Yet Mendes and producer Michael Wilson both suggested today that Skyfall is its own story rather than a direct continuation of Casino Royale and Quantum. But that doesn't necessarily mean they can't follow the trail to the top of the SPECTRE-like Quantum terrorist organization.

In fact, when I first interviewed Craig for Casino Royale, we speculated about the return of Blofeld. He agreed that a more realistic Blofeld or someone like him would be fun to play with: "I think if he's done right, as in the early Bonds. It's not that he's mad for the sake of power: the madness is a psychosis for anybody who's got that much power -- that craziness. He's one of the great movie villains."

And Craig has always emphasized the crucial importance of M, the maternal figure who reluctantly gives Bond his license to kill and then has to guide him through his rite of passage. "But we have this opportunity that is genuinely one almost of love," Craig told me. "That where ever he is, in spite of everything, no matter how alone in the world he is, she's there for him. And that, in a way, gives him the strength… And we have her struggle a bit, which is very interesting."

Looks like Bond gets to return the favor in Skyfall.


This article is related to: Franchises, Genres, Headliners, In Production, Thriller, Action, Javier Bardem


E-Mail Updates






Festivals on TOH