We are not now that strength which in old days Moved heaven and earth; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find. And not to yield.
The one where James Bond "dies"... again.note Well, you know what they say, live and let die. Or was it you only live twice?Skyfall, the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise, also marks the 50th anniversary of the film series and the third film to star Daniel Craig as Bond. After languishing for years in Development Hell following the financial problems of distributor MGM, the Sam Mendes-directed film finally saw release in 2012.After an operation in Istanbul to recover an encrypted hard drive containing the identities of every active undercover NATO agent ends in disaster, Bond goes missing. With a top agent presumed dead and the information he sought to save sitting in the wrong hands, MI6section chief M comes under government review for her handling of the situation. But when a terrorist attack targets MI6's headquarters, Bond returns to track down the man responsible for the attack: Raoul Silva, a dangerous cyberterrorist with a personal grudge against M.Skyfall became the first Bond film (and fourteenth film overall) to make a billion dollars at the box office (beating the adjusted for inflation record held by Thunderball as well) and first Bond film since Thunderball to win an Academy Award (two in fact, Best Original Song for Adele's "Skyfall" and Best Sound Editing - it was nominated for three more), and it remains one of the most critically acclaimed to date.
Skyfall contains examples of the following tropes:
James uses the hunting rifle of his father Andrew Bond to fight off Silva's mooks early on in the climax.
In a meta example, Bond's Aston Martin DB5, which Sean Connery's Bond drove in Goldfinger. The car, which had been making cameo appearances in the franchise ever since, was very useful in cutting down Mr. Silva's henchmen.
He's noticeably angered when Silva has his men in the helicopter shoot it to bits.
"Skyfall," is mentioned early on, and is the only part of the word association test that he doesn't have a witty response to. It turns out to be his family home, where he lived after his parents died in a freak accident.
"Think on your sins."
"Sometimes, the old ways are the best."
Artistic License - Biology: Komodo Dragons are hunters (and scavengers), not fighters. They tend to wait until their prey is too weak to fight before they attack note If you're curious, their mouths are a veritable Petri dish of potentially lethal bacteria (specifically, E. coli, Staphylococcus sp., Providencia sp., Proteus morgani, and P. mirabilis), and they are known to possess venom glands. They do this to conserve energy, as they are large and cold-blooded. They wouldn't retreat into the shade, as they want to stay in the light (preferably the sun's light) to stay warm.
Unless the shaded areas are heated, allowing for the spectacle of them coming out to feed as opposed to just sitting there.
Artistic License - Chemistry: Hydrogen cyanide is not an acid, and does not dissolve tooth and bone as is depicted. It is a colorless, odorless gas that causes death by cutting off cell respiration. However, it's possible that the cyanide capsule included acid in order to release the poison, and that this particular capsule simply contained too much acid and too little cyanide (though this would still make Silva wrong, as he specifically blames the cyanide, but perhaps he is simply not well-versed on the subject, or was just ignoring the technicalities).
The capsule would have been designed to be swallowed, not bitten into, and so the acid would quicken the corrosion of the casing itself (rather than wait for stomach acids to do it like with your pills). If Silva didn't know how to take his poison, it's unlikely he knows how it works.
Aside Glance: When the MP starts prattling on at the hearing, Mallory gives a subtle, "Oh, come on," look to her/the camera.
Mallory: Three months ago, you lost the computer drive containing the identity of almost every NATO agent embedded in terrorist organizations across the globe. A list which, in the eyes of our allies, never existed. So if you'll forgive me, I think you know why you're here.
Award Bait Song: The film's main theme, "Skyfall", by the award winning singer Adele. It topped charts on its first day of release, won the Golden Globe for Best Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song, becoming the fifth Bond song to be so nominated and the first ever to win.
Awesome, but Impractical: Patrice uses armor-piercing depleted uranium rounds, which unsurprisingly are rare enough to allow Bond to track him down easily.
Q all but cites this trope when he tells Bond that Q branch doesn't tend to go in for "explodingpens" anymore, after giving 007 two practical gadgets: a homing beacon radio and a personalized pistol.
Which may be either a Mythology Gag or just an unintentional mistake, since Bond had a personalised signature gun in Licence to Kill, about 7 years before he got the exploding pen, making the pen more sophisticated. And in both movies the gun doesn't actually serve any purpose other than being dropped so that some hapless guy in the Komodo dragon pit can fail to shoot him with it.
While the elephant gun is obscenely powerful, as soon as Bond empties it twice, he drops it and picks up a much more practical assault rifle from one of his fallen foes. Ancestral Weapon or not, he knows which weapon is better in a combat situation.
Badass Bureaucrat: Mallory is currently a bureaucrat, but only because he's a Retired Badass. He gets into a gunfight against Silva, takes a bullet, and is later tapped as M's replacement after she dies.
The Bad Guy Wins: Silva's plan to humiliate and then kill M succeeds, though he is unable to make M kill the both of them directly as he wanted, or live to see his victory. Bond is only able to save his own life, and possibly restore M's reputation posthumously.
Banister Slide: Bond and Silva slide down the separator between escalators in the London Underground during the chase sequence. Ironically, there are actually spacers every few feet to prevent people doing exactly this (one of which can be seen detached on the floor at the end).
Silva's Evil Plan exploits various MI-6 protocols to further itself. Silva knows that MI6 will eventually identify and arrest him, so he spends years planning around his inevitable capture; come the day of his escape, he counter-hacks MI6 and abuses M's overconfidence to close in and assassinate her.
Bond convinces Q to leave a hidden trail for Silva, knowing Silva will discover it. Bond then fortifies himself in his ancestral estate of Skyfall, where he can eliminate Silva without collateral damage.
Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Five months of torture at the hands of the Chinese literally knocked the hope and sanity out of Silva. The unsuccessful suicide by Cyanide Pill that left him painfully disfigured merely rubbed more salt into the wound.
Billing Displacement: Severine is plastered all over promotional materials for the film and is heavily implied to be the main romantic lead. However, her screentime in a two-hour movie is about fifteen minutes, and she lasts just long enough to reveal her tragic abusive background, and is murdered by Silva in front of an indifferent Bond.. Eve, meanwhile, is far more significant to the plot and stays around from beginning to end, but her face never appears on any posters, and she's only in the tv spots for about a split second.
Bond, of course, most notably, "Last rat standing."
There's also "Circle of life" for the henchman left at the mercy of the Komodo dragon pit.
Kincade blasting a henchman with a shotgun and saying, "Welcome to Scotland!"
Boring, but Practical: Bond receives two rather unimpressive-looking gadgets from Q: a Walther PPK/S chambered in .380 ACP that only Bond can fire, and an emergency homing beacon. Both turn out to be lifesavers during his mission in Asia.
A recurring theme of the movie, really. Silva specializes in hacking elaborate computer networks, and rigs London itself into a deathtrap to escape Bond and reach M's hearing; Bond only manages to undermine him with ordinary tools that Silva has no way of manipulating, such as a two-way radio, a beaten-down homestead in the middle of nowhere, and a completely ordinary hunting knife.
The signature gun is arguably not very practical; just like the one he had in Licence to Kill, its sole purpose seems to be for Bond to drop it and some Mook to pick it up and try-and-fail to shoot him with it. In other movies where Bond has a regular gun, he almost never loses it in this way, if he loses it at all, and sometimes when he does lose it an ally picks it up and uses it to save his life with it (case in point- From Russia with Love and Rosa Klebb's fate), so a signature gun might even potentially handicap Bond.
While pursuing Silva through the Tube, Bond calls Q to figure out where they're going. Q does some Rapid-Fire Typing and pulls up a fancy 3-D wireframe of the London Underground in an attempt to plot the route, which takes almost a minute plus, and he's still not finished when Bond looks up at the route map and in 2 seconds knows Westminster is the next stop.
FYI: There are a few free apps which give real-time tracking and info.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted, which is unusual for a Bond movie. Characters are regularly seen reloading in shootouts, and running out of ammo is also what leads to Bond getting shot in the shoulder during the Action Prologue.
Played straight in the prologue: Patrice with his fully-automatic Glock 18 is able to lay down near-continuous fire from the roof of the train and is only seen reloading once. Initially handwaved by his using a drum magazine, though he carries on doing so even after he gets rid of it and switches to regular stick magazines. He's also using "hard to get and extremely expensive" depleted uranium shells — apparently he had a bottomless wallet, as well.
Break Out the Museum Piece: For the film's climax, James uses a classic Aston Martin DB 5 because unlike most of MI6's other vehicles, it lacks any computerized tracking equipment that Silva could use against him. Not to mention the very same machine guns it had in Goldfinger.
Call Back: The death of Bond's parents and his youth as an orphan, as previously discussed in GoldenEye and Casino Royale (and a piece of backstory dating back to Fleming's original novels), is a running plot thread through the film.
Chekhov's Gag: Bond's issued gadgets consist of a mildly tricked out Walther PPK/S and a panic button radio. Q snarks about Bond possibly expecting an exploding pen. The joke first pays off when Bond uses the radio to summon The Cavalry, and again when he digs up a weaponized Aston Martin DB5. "Sometimes the old ways are the best", indeed.
Bond complains when he sees M's tacky china bulldog in the makeshift HQ ("The whole office goes up in smoke and that bloody thing survives?"). Guess what M leaves for 007 in her will?
Played with when Bond receives a "palm recognition" gun from Q that only he can fire. Unlike the standard Chekhov's Gun, as soon as you see it, you know that at some point, it's *not* going to be fired once— when a bad guy gets a hold of it and tries to use it. Bond himself never actually fires it.
Q also gives Bond a Chekhov's "distress radio."
One of the notable camera shots in the Macau casino shows decorative giant komodo dragons in an ideal fighting area. It doesn't take a screenwriter to figure out that someone is getting eaten in a few minutes.
Chekhov's Gunman: Played with regarding Mallory. Genre Savvy viewers will be able to work out that he's being set up for something, so it's heavily suggested he's a Mole in Charge to throw us off the scent as to how Silva gets into MI6's systems. In fact, he's destined to be the replacement for M.
Cool Old Lady: M gets in on the action, firing guns and wiring up the chandelier in Skyfall into a booby trap for Silva. By her own admission, she's "a lousy shot", but hey, booby-trapping the chandelier was pretty awesome by itself.
Colonel Badass: Mallory was formerly commanding officer of the 22nd Regiment out of Hereford - he was SAS during The Troubles in Ireland.
Complexity Addiction: Silva's plans, befitting a Bond villain, are far more complicated than they need to be, but wouldn't be nearly as fun to watch otherwise. For example, he has a sniper shoot his way to the top of an office building to assassinate a man in the building opposite, even though the target is already surrounded by Silva's own men
Compressed Hair: Severine pins up her almost waist-length hair so as to make it look as short as a bob cut.
After deciding to come back, Bond contacts M by breaking into her house, mirroring his break in into her previous home in Casino Royale.
When James returns from his unplanned retirement, M snaps at him with "what did you expect, an apology?", mirroring a similarly cold remark in a similar situation in Die Another Day. Also counts as Foreshadowing because when she finally confronts Silva, he comments that he expected "no remorse" from her, which becomes an instance of Pride Before a Fall; it's implied that had she apologized, he would have given up trying to kill her.
After digging some shrapnel out of his shoulder, Bond says to give it to M, "for her eyes only".
The radio tracking device Bond receives is a smaller version of an identical device from Goldfinger.
Q cracks a joke about the exploding pen from GoldenEye.
Bond: Not exactly Christmas, is it?
Q: Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don't really go in for that anymore.
Also, Q insisting that Bond return the gun and radio device, "intact". A frequent complaint of the original Q in earlier Bond movies.
The painting shown to Patrice's target in Shanghai is Modigliani's "Woman With a Fan", which was stolen in 2010. Dr. No's lair was adorned with Francisco Goya's "Portrait of The Duke of Wellington", which was stolen in 1961.
The poor thug who winds up killed by the komodo dragons is made to resemble Oddjob from Goldfinger. A physically imposing, well dressed, Asian man with a goatee. All he was missing was the hat.
When Silva caresses Bond's thighs, Bond asks 'What makes you think this is my first time?'. While seemingly a throwaway quip, Bond may actually be referring to the time Le Chiffre stripped him naked, tied him to a chair and tortured him.
The scotch Silva uses in his and Bond's William Telling contest is dated 1962, the year Dr. No was released.
When Silva reveals the effects of cyanide poisoning, his features become reminiscent of Richard Kiel, the actor who played the henchman Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Javier Bardem, the actor who plays Silva, had stated in an eariler interview that Jaws was his favorite Bond villain ever. His eyelids also sag down, just like Blofeld's did.
Bond's father's old rifle "aims to the left" similar to a rifle crafted by gunsmith Lazar from The Man with the Golden Gun, who made the gun for a mobster lacking a few fingers, meaning it aims some inches lower.
Silva worked for MI6 in Hong Kong in the late 80s-mid 90s, the same time period that the Bond franchise stalled. Hong Kong was meant to be the setting for Timothy Dalton's third film before it went into Development Hell.
Continuity Reboot/Origins Episode: Tells how Bond came to meet Q, Moneypenny, and the male M, as well as how he came to operate out of the Universal Exports' offices.note None of this has ever actually been depicted in the films before, nor in any of the Fleming novels. To reinforce this, the Bond Gun Barrel sequence closes the movie instead of opening it.
Dark Secret: M sold former British agent Silva out to the Chinese in exchange for 6 other agents and a peaceful transition in Hong Kong after Silva started disobeying orders and began running ops against Chinese intelligence on his own.
The film questions the effectiveness of Bond and MI6 in the modern age, only to decide that men like Bond will always be needed.
The film also deconstructs M herself, demonstrating the consequences of her ruthless, pragmatic dedication to duty, but also ultimately shows that such dedication can also be courageous and honorable.
M: To hell with dignity. I'll leave when the job is done.
After serving as a deconstruction of Bond as a whole, the movie also reconstructs and reintroduces several elements from older Bond movies before Brosnan and Craig took on the role. Such as MI-6 being based out of the Universal Exports offices, a male M and Bond's flirtatious relationship with Moneypenny.
Dented Iron: A recurring theme. The effectiveness of the aging Bond, M, Mallory, MI6, Bond's family manor, and Britain itself are all questioned, only for all of them to prove to be considerably tougher than they look. Then there's this subtext-laden remark about a painting in the National Gallery:
Q: Always makes me feel a bit melancholy; a grand old warship being ignominiously hauled away for scrap. The inevitability of time, don't you think?
Dies Wide Open: M dies with her eyes open, leaving Bond to close them for her.
Dirty Cop: "Constable" Silva and a couple of his men shoot up an inquiry board hearing
Disney Villain Death: The fight on the top floor of a Shanghai skyscraper ends with Patrice falling to his death after slipping out of Bond's hands.
Disposable Woman: Severine appears for all of a half-dozen scenes before Silva shoots her in the head. This shows how disposable Silva considers everyone and everything, a dark mirror to M's pragmatism.
As well as his line about how "we can eat each other. . .hmm?", which he says while touching Bond suggestively.
Downer Beginning: The movie begins with the opening chase through Istanbul ending in failure as the culprit gets away with the MacGuffin containing the identities of the undercover NATO agents, and to make matters worse, Bond is presumed dead after being shot by Eve.
Do Wrong, Right: When Mallory catches Q and Tanner working off the books to help capture Silva.
Due to the Dead: The lack of ceremony accorded to dead spies is mentioned several times — all they get is their real name engraved into a remembrance wall. Similarly, after M's death, none of the flags in the area around MI6's headquarters are at half mast, and both Eve and Bond comment on the lack of ceremony.
Dying to Be Replaced: Gareth Mallory succeeds Judi Dench's character as M following her death at the end of the film.
Dying Truce: when Bond finishes off Silva with a thrown knife to the back, neither have any weapons left anyway. But neither of them attempt to fight or finish each other off more quickly, just staring each other down and allowing Bond to give a signature one-liner just before Silva finally keels over.
End of an Age: The film constantly touches on Dented Iron and ends on the iconic Aston Martin DB5 being destroyed and Judi Dench's M dead.
Establishing Character Moment: Just prior to Silva's on-camera appearance, Bond's taken to an open-air server network in a dusty, deserted city. Such an environment would make the computers degrade quickly — essentially, hardware that'd self-dispose about when Silva presumably would no longer need them. Indeed, Silva's planning to be caught shortly after this encounter, and does.]]
Et Tu, Brute?: Silva himself felt this way after realizing that M sold him out to the Chinese.
Everything Is Online: How Silva accomplishes a number of his objectives, including how he obtained his lair and escapes custody late in the film. It is lampshaded in the film that some of the things he does should have been impossible.
Bond, when Silva hacks the security at MI6indirectly.
Mallory, during M's speech at the inquiry. You can see him being turned from an Obstructive Bureaucrat to a Reasonable Authority Figure. Moments later, when Silva attacks, he takes a bullet in the shoulder that Silva's pistol was intending for M, and uses a bailiff's pistol to kill one of Silva's men.
Facial Horror: Silva took a defective Cyanide Pill that left him without teeth or part of his palate, forcing him to wear prosthetic ones. In one scene, the audience gets to see him rip the whole thing out, deflating his cheeks.
Failure Hero: Bond fails at every objective he has during the movie: he loses the MI6 hard drive; allows an assassin to kill a politician; fails to get information from said assassin; fails to protect the mole; falls into Silva's trap; fails to stop Silva escaping; fails to stop several deaths in Parliament; loses Skyfall Manor; kills Silva instead of letting him rot in prison; and finally fails to protect M. The only positive thing that can be said is that he survives. In a sense this is exactly the way Ian Fleming first conceived of Bond.
Ultimately, the end of the movie is a Pyrrhic Victory: Bond defeated the bad guy, but that was his only victory. Everything else went to shit. Given the levels of Genre Savvy that Bond villains have been displaying in the Daniel Craig movies, it was almost inevitable that one would ultimately win.
Every major character in this film has some sort of major failure in their past, including Silva.
Fed to the Beast: In Macau, Bond falls into a pit of Komodo dragons with one of Silva's mooks. Said mook tries to kill him with the palmprint gun and fails to do so. He is then dragged into the shadow and eaten by one of the lizards.
The opening credits sequence foreshadows multiple elements of Bond's mission to Asia, Bond and Silva's backstories, and the climactic showdown at the titular Skyfall manor at the end of the movie.
The theme song also has a few - the chorus in particular indirectly mentions that there will be a battle ("We will stand tall, face it all together, at Skyfall.")
M's line "Oh, to hell with dignity! I'll leave when the job's done!" foreshadows her final scene at the end of the movie.
Bond's line to Severine, "Someone usually dies."
A very subtle example that overlaps somewhat with a Call Back to Casino Royale: in the earlier film, Bond tells M "I thought M was a randomly assigned letter, I had no idea it stood for..." clearly implying that M's real name has a letter m in it somewhere. In Skyfall, we're introduced to an authoritative senior figure (played by a big-time actor), named Mallory...
As they're arming up at Skyfall manor, Kincaid produces a hunting knife and comments that "sometimes the old ways are the best". Guess how Silva meets his end.
In addition, Judi Dench's M is referred to as Emma at one point, implying it may be a nickname as well as a codename.
Though it's more likely Kincade assumed he heard "Em" and that it would be nice to be formal. They didn't have the heart, nor saw the necessity, to correct him.
When M is looking at the YouTube video containing the first 5 names, the suggested video list shows that Silva has at least put up trailers for the other videos, if he hasn't outright put them up already.
If you look at the dashboard and armrest of the DB5 when Bond is using the forward-mounted Machine guns, you can see that the car also contains the radio tracker from Goldfinger, and the armrest containing all the controls suggests that the car contains all of the gadgets from that movie.
The gift box containing M's porcelain bull dog has her full name printed on it. It's Olivia Mansfield.
Bond's brilliant quartermaster, Q (Ben Whishaw), returns to the franchise.. and is in many ways a painful subversion. While is a hacking savant, he belittles field work and the very gadgets his branch has traditionally been in charge of, and acts as though the radio he produced is really a revolutionary design rather than something Q Branch had been doing for quite some time before him. This is all tragically deconstructed when Silva plays him for a fool and dozens of people wind up dead because of it.
Interestingly, Hashima Island, the island Silva's lair is located on, is a real life ghost town in Japan (not China). It was a coal mining facility from 1887 to 1974, before it was abandoned overnight. The island is notable for its character due to its sea wall and its untouched abandoned and derelict concrete buildings.
Gilligan Cut: A reference is made to MI6's enemies existing "in the shadows". Cut to Bond sailing towards Silva's island on a sunlit ocean.
Go Back to the Source: Bond takes refuge in his childhood manor for his final confrontation against Silva.
Good Old Ways: The Arc Words of Skyfall are "Sometimes the old ways are best," reflecting both on Bond's settling with his own troubled past and, in a meta sort of way, on the franchise's return to the style of the first films. Not for nothing has Skyfall been heralded as one of the best installments of the series.
Hellish Copter: Silva's gunship is hit by the shock-wave and resulting flying pieces of Skyfall's explosion, prompting it to crash and kill almost all of Silva's remaining men.
Hero Killer: Silva seems well on his way to depopulating MI:6's HR rolls by the movie's end.
He's Back: Bond, after pretending to be dead for some time, reappears in M's house when she needs him. Also later when, after spending the whole film being held back by his arm injury, Bond finally regains his Improbable Aiming Skills.
Hollywood Hacking: Both Q and Silva. Silva can turn on the gas main in MI6 via computer, somehow, though this is technically possible. note In real life, the CIA did something similar to a Siberian pipeline in the 1980's albeit with a pre planted "logic bomb". Plus it is theoretically possible to remotely disrupt utility infrastructure by interfering with SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems built into the utility pipeline by having someone physically interfere with the offline device and set it to cause the effects required, triggered by remote. But this requires a lot of work.
Hollywood Healing: Averted. Bond's shoulder wound from the opening sequence dramatically affects his performance, even after he's given several months to recuperate. Granted, "recuperation" consisted of getting wasted and laying women in the middle of nowhere. Also, Mallory takes a bullet to the shoulder from Silva during the shootout in the boardroom, and wears a sling for the remainder of the movie.
Hollywood Tactics: Well-averted on the part of Silva's mooks during the final battle.note They react with proper suppression fire to Bond's opening ambush, take what cover they can as quickly as possible, and move through the manor in a professional fashion. The problem, of course, is that they're still up against James Bond.
Honor Before Reason: At one point, when warned that Silva is on his way to kill her, M refuses to retreat from her meeting on account she won't show them her back.
Hope Spot: Bond takes out Silva's mooks with ease, but of course, that was the easy part.
House Fire: The climax of the film burns down Bond's ancestral family manor.
How the Mighty Have Fallen: M loses her headquarters and her career thanks to Silva and then bleeds out after being grazed by a bullet fired by one of Silva's henchmen.
I Did What I Had to Do: M also justifies ordering Eve to shoot while Bond was in the line of fire by saying she had to do whatever she could to prevent the encrypted drive from being stolen. She justifies selling out Silva to the Chinese similarly.
M, we understand you don't want to show weakness to anyone, but when a team of commando terrorists have broken their leader, who has a vendetta against you, out of jail, and are going to come after you in a Parliament hearing, you should have known better than continue the hearing. You're likely to get shot. Later in the film, she even says "I fucked this up, didn't I?"
Bond plants a file in the MI6 system to make Silvia think that M is at Skyfall manor so he can ambush him. Then he actually takes M to Skyfall manor with only himself and an old gamekeeper for protection. Silvia brings 7 or 8 guys (which was the best case scenario for Bond) and M winds up dead.
IKEA Weaponry: Patrice takes out a target across the street using a custom rifle he assembles on the fly.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: A rare occasion where it's actually the heroes that go through this. Bond suffers from this early on until he gets his edge back. In the climax, M reveals that she was never a particularly good shot either (logical for someone who in their introduction to the series mentioned the view of them as a beancounter). And of course, after Bond shoots the fire extinguishers in the inquiry boardroom in an attempt to throw Silva's aim off, he fires a magazine at the smokescreen and fails to land a single shot.
Impoverished Patrician: It's implied that Bond's parents may have fallen on hard times before their untimely death, although they retained the manor. That Bond himself became an orphan just adds to it.
Improbable Aiming Skills: A point is made that Bond has lost those he used to have, which becomes important a couple of times (expecting him to make a one-handed William Telling shot with an antique caplock dueling pistol at twenty paces was just cruel). His injury helps him aim his father's rifle properly though since said rifle tends to "aim to the left" and Bond's injury has him incline to the right.
Incoming Ham: When you want to make an entrance, it's undeniably difficult to beat a helicopter blasting classic rock from loudspeakers. Lampshaded by Bond.
Incurable Cough of Death: M is clipped by a bullet in the torso, and her hand is shown very bloodied. Unsurprisingly, she doesn't last past the finale.
Informed Flaw: The doctor clearly believes Bond is addicted to both alcohol and pills, but after Bond starts working, he's never shown to be drunk, high, or suffering from withdrawal.
He is shown to drink at the beach in Turkey and appears completely hung over (either that or indeed genuinely drunk) in M's flat.
Q: I'm your new quartermaster. James Bond: You must be joking. Q: Why, because I'm not wearing a lab coat? James Bond: Because you still have spots.note For those not up on British slang, change "spots" to "zits".
On the Tube part of the chase following Silva's escape, part of it supposedly happens on the District Line, a subsurface Tube line (with wider cars and multiple lines sharing the same tracks and platforms), but the train shown is actually the deep-tube 1996 Stock used by the Jubilee Line, as the scenes were shot on the closed Charing Cross branch of the Jubilee Line.
When Silva drops a train on Bond, we see that the train cars that drop through the opening are still fully illuminated, when they should be dark as they are not making contact with the third rail.
Silva pulls this to a degree; at first, it seems like Silva is going to come after M and Bond by himself, or at least with a couple of henchmen. He ends up bringing dozens of his own men to the showdown at Skyfall manor, and even Bond is surprised not to find Silva among the first wave of men before he sees the helicopter approaching.
Bond engaged in this trope earlier in the film right after the WilliamTelling contest; he stands alone to face Silva, and we are led to believe that a one-on-one contest will ensue... until MI-6 helicopters appear.
Kangaroo Court: The hearing on M's handling of the crisis rapidly turns into this and Mallory is none too happy about it. It couldn't help that it's because Silva and his men barge in and shoot the place up.
M betrayed Silva to save several other agents back in Hong Kong. The first phase of Silva's revenge involves betraying the identities of five agents, effectively undoing it. She also sacrificed several agents, denying one immediate medical care from Bond that could have saved him, and dies from a similar injury herself because she can't get help in time.
At the start of the film, M orders Eve to "take the bloody shot" that downs Bond. In the finale, when Silva implores her to end both their lives with the same bullet, she is either unwilling or unable to do so.
Leave Her To Me: Silva orders his men not to kill M, as he wants to deal with her himself. Bond, on the other hand, is fair game.
At the end of the film, Ralph Fiennes' character Gareth Mallory becomes the new M.
Eve reveals her last name to be Moneypenny.
Let The Past Burn: The film has the eponymous manor burning down during the ending battle (with, of course, lots of explosions and such). This is very symbolic, as Bond has linked it throughout the movie with his childhood, and certain... psychological baggage he's carried with him from there.
Loophole Abuse: The Exact Words of the William Telling contest, as set by Silva, are to see "who can be the first to knock the glass from her head." Ain't no rule saying that you can't achieve this by shooting the girl in the face.
MacGuffin: The stolen hard drive containing the names and faces of every undercover NATO agent.
Milestone Celebration: The film was released in 2012, the 50th anniversary of Bond in film. In honor of this, the movie's cast was first revealed on Nov. 3, 2011; the exact date fifty years previous that Sean Connery was first announced to be Bond in Dr. No, and the film itself contains multiplereferences to previous films in the series. And prior to the closing credits a special 50th anniversary logo is shown above "James Bond will return".
Mean Boss: M may not be a cackling mad scientist or terrorist, but make no mistake: she is equally as heartless towards the lives of her subordinates as any snarling Bond Villain. In her case, however, it is for the common good that she has to be that way, and that her assets are considered disposable. If she had fought to keep her subordinates, Silva wouldn't have snapped in the first place.
"Silva" is the Portuguese equivalent of "Smith", hinting to The Reveal that it's just a code name. His real name "Tiago" is the Portuguese form of "James".
Even better: his last name, Rodriguez is Spanish for son of Roderick, which means he who is rich in glory.
Gareth Mallory, twice over. "Mallory" is Old French for "bad luck" or "unlucky", and his introduction has him asking Bond why he would come back when he had the good luck Mallory and others never did. Once we reach the third act, the mere fact that his last name begins with "M" makes it quite clear what's going to happen.
Silva regularly calls M "mommy", and once "mother," even though they're not related, and insinuates that M sees both himself and Bond as her children.
Bond's reaction to her death suggests he also sees M as a mother figure.
M's comment that orphans make the best agents implies that she sees some utility in this.
Continuity Nod to Quantum of Solace, when Bond mentions that part of the reason he's going after Quantum is because they tried to kill a woman close to him. Camille asks, "Your mother?" Bond replies, "She likes to think so."
Mundane Solution: On the Underground, Bond needs to find out where Silva's going. Q engages in Rapid-Fire Typing and brings up a 3D wireframe map of the Tube network. Bond just looks up at the route map on the wall to see what the next stop is.
Needle in a Stack of Needles: Silva is pursued by Bond in the overcrowded London underground and is disguised as a policeman. Eventually "Constable Silva" stumbles into a lobby full of bobbies on patrol and is amused to realize that his cover is unassailable. Bond is able to follow his trail anyway.
Bond's reaction when he spots the giant komodo dragon in the pit. Craig suggested to the director that Bond should actually show fear for once, so this is a first.
Big Bad Silva has been locked up inside the MI6 HQ and Bond and Q are analysing his laptop. It looks like the good guys are finally one step ahead. Then every door in the base starts opening. Q's reaction is priceless.
Silva gets a moment of his own when one of the traps Bond sets at the manor causes Silva's helicopter to crash.
Older Is Better: The underlining conflict in the film is if the old MI6 and the double Os are still relevant in the modern, digital world of new threats. The climax of the film is Bond using this trope, such as using classic Bond car from the 60's since it doesn't have a tracking device, a break open rifle, and simple booby traps.
Silva's account of how he dealt with the rats that overran his family home is given in a single shot as he enters from a descending elevator and slowly meanders towards Bond. The room was specially constructed so it would be just the right length.
The silhouetted fight sequence in Shanghai between Bond and Patrice is one uninterrupted shot.
The scene where Bond and Eve survey the casino in Macau is also one continuous shot.
Being shot in the shoulder twice during the opening action sequence. The first doesn't slow Bond down one bit, but the second knocks him off a train and afterwards Bond doesn't receive proper medical attention and has trouble with the arm several times later on.
Bond finds a Red Shirt alive with a stomach wound and thinks he can patch him up, but is ordered to get on with his mission; without immediate first aid, the man dies.
The bullet wound Mallory takes from Silva in the inquiry attack persists until the end of the movie.
Near the end of the film, M suffers a bullet wound inflicted by one of Silva's henchmen, but manages to continue to fight and run for quite some time afterwards. The wound eventually ends up killing her.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Silva orders his henchmen to keep their hands off M, saying, "She's mine." A more reasonable example than most, as he doesn't care who kills Bond.
Origins Episode: This film could considered one for the "classic James Bond", as it shows the origins of many well-known elements from the Bond mythos: Moneypenny, her sexually charged banter with Bond, the male M, his office, etc. Skyfall also delves deeper into the origins of Bond himself than any of the preceding movies.
Outrun the Fireball: Bond has to outrun the explosion of Silva's crashed gunship in the finale.
Also Subverted. Bond seems almost confused that he didn't have to outrun the initial fireball of Skyfall's explosion. The gunship crash happens moments later.
The Power of Hate: Silva suggests this as the explanation for his surviving cyanide poisoning.
Play-Along Prisoner: Bond captures Big Bad Silva and puts him in a cell in MI6 headquarters three quarters of the way through the film. Silva promptly escapes.
Precision F-Strike: From M (the first time the F-word has ever been uttered in a Bond film):
M: I fucked this up, didn't I?
Product Placement: Tanner and Q both use Sony Vaio computers, Eve comments that she just missed "two VW Beetles" (and Bond pancakes some of those with a prominently-labeled CAT excavator), Bond wears a specially-designed Omega watch and uses a Sony Xperia T smartphone... Not to mention Bond and Tanner both drinking Heineken. (Though Bond's use of Heineken occurs not in the most complimentary of circumstances. And contrary to pre-release publicity suggesting he would forsake his classic drink in favor of beer, he still enjoys a vodka martini at one point.) In addition, one of the shots where Silva runs through a subway station has the camera pan slightly to its right to show an ad for Swarovski watches. When Bond pursues him, the camera is directly pointed at an ad for Heineken. In both instances, the crowd subtly parts to show most of the posters.
Protect This House: The film is named after the family estate Bond, M and Kincaid must defend in the climax.
Psychopathic Manchild: Silva. His general demeanor comes off disturbingly juvenile, he giggles girlishly extremely often, his online threats are ridiculous, script-kiddie style animations, and he is variously described as possessive, with a tendency to dispose of anything that no longer amuses him.
Race Lift: Miss Moneypenny, who was previously played by white actresses, is played by the half-Jamaican half-Trinidadian English actress Naomie Harris.
Reality Ensues: After being grazed by a bullet and not receiving proper medical attention, the elderly M bleeds out and dies soon after.
Logical Weakness: Bond uses his old Cool Car with the machine guns in the headlights to ambush Silva's men. Unfortunately, they only fire straight ahead, meaning he only takes down a few of the soldiers. Luckily, they planned for this, and the next stage of the plan requires the bad guys to get into the manse.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: The Government Minister on the committee M is hauled before gives a (mostly off-screen) Character Filibuster about how useless and outdated MI6 is. M's response to her (in the form of a Tennyson quotation), fortunately, is beautiful, and it helps that all of M's points are proven correct, like, five seconds later when Silva barges into the courtroom and begins shooting.
Mallory even realizes how one-sided the hearing is, and lampshades it.
Reconstruction: Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace took the Bond formula down a deconstructive path, with Bond girls as innocent and tragic pawns to both sides and Bond himself treated by M as more of a blunt object and Professional Killer who is slowly becoming obsolete in a more sensitive world of espionage. In addition a lot of the Bond traditions fell away, such as flirting with Moneypenny, dinner with the bad guys and getting new toys from Q Branch. While many praised the radical changes as modernizing Bond, some felt it had lost a lot of what made Bond so entertaining. Skyfall begins with the Royale and Solace style and spends the rest of the movie reconciling classic and modern Bond together. M's speech at a committee hearing says it all.
Red Herring: Mallory is a shady, stuck-up ex-soldier, played by the guy who also played Voldemort, Amon Goeth and Francis Dolarhyde, who tries to get M to resign in his first appearance, scorns Bond in his second, and is present at a would-be crime scene in his third. Not a great start for the future M!
Red Right Hand: Like many Bond villains, Silva has a hidden deformity: In this case, half of his face is sunken and his teeth are reduced to rotten nubs.
Retired Badass: Mallory is a veteran of the British Army (specifically the SAS), and was kept as a hostage at one point by the IRA.
Retirony: Invoked. Silva's plan is to force M into retirement by humiliating her, and then kill her before she can actually retire.
Revisiting The Roots: Looks to be the case with the franchise as of this film: besides the reintroduction of Q by the end of film, MI6 has moved into the Universal Exports offices from the older films, Moneypenny is reintroduced and there's a new (male) M.
Ripped from the Headlines: The catalyst for the plot is sensitive government information being stolen and then leaked online, mirroring various real world scandals where classified documents were leaked onto the internet in the years surrounding Skyfall's release.
Rock Beats Laser: During the climax, Bond, M and Kincade are poorly equipped, with only old hunting guns, knives, dynamite, some gas bottles, and the good old Aston Martin DB5 against Silva's mooks, who carry recent assault rifles and grenades and benefit from heavily armed helicoptersupport.
Subverted when Bond drops the hunting rifle after killing a couple of Mooks with it, and picks up one of their modern assault rifles.
Rogue Agent: Raoul Silva, a former MI6 agent out to destroy M after she screwed him over years earlier. While he was still an MI6 agent, he was carrying out unauthorized cyber-attacks on the Chinese.
For the final act, Bond kidnaps M and enlists Q and Tanner to (unofficially and without any authorization at all) help him bait Silva into fighting Bond on his own turf. Illustrated by Tanner having a beer in MI6 headquarters while they go about their work. But Mallory approves of their actions, so it's probably not necessarily a case of "going rogue" so much as "working 'off the books'".
Rousing Speech: M's speech at the inquiry board. Juxtaposing M talking with Silva making his way there, and Bond pursuing Silva, to make the tension and M's points more relevant:
M: Chairman, ministers. [Silva emerges from the tube station, and hops into a police car driven by a couple of his henchmen] Today I've repeatedly heard how irrelevant my department has become. Why do we need agents, the -00 section? Isn't it all rather quaint? Well, I suppose I see a different world than you do. And the truth is that what I see frightens me. [Silva is riding shotgun in his vehicle, and checking his pistol] I'm frightened because our enemies are no longer known to us. They do not exist on the map, they are not nations, they are individuals. [Tanner sees messages reading "GET HER TO SAFETY" come up on his computer screen] Look around you, who do you fear? Can you see a face, a uniform, a flag? No. [Silva and two of his men, all dressed as cops, enter the tribunal building. As they approach the security checkpoint, they raise their pistols and shoot the three guards manning the booth without dropping a beat]
M: Our world is not more transparent now. It's more opaque. It's in the shadows. That's where we must do battle. So, before you declare us irrelevant, ask yourselves. How safe do you feel? Just one more thing to say. My late husband was a great lover of poetry. And um...I suppose some of it sunk in, despite my best intentions.
[As M continues to speak, Bond emerges from Westminster tube station, passes arriving emergency workers, and begins running down the road in the middle of traffic]
M: And here today I remember this. I think, from Tennyson. "We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven. That which we are, we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, [Silva and his men make their way down a corridor inside the building] to find, and not to yield."
[On cue, the doors at the back of the courtroom open and Silva and his men walk in]
Bystander: Get down!
[Silva shoots a panel member, then takes aim at M, while his henchmen begin shooting the bailiffs as they try to draw their pistols. Silva and M lock their gazes on each other as he takes aim. As Silva fires, Mallory pushes M down, taking a bullet to the arm]
Bond and Q's discussion of a painting of "a grand old warship being ignominiously hauled away for scrap," as Bond's fitness for active service is questioned from all sides. At the end of a movie, M's new office prominently displays a triumphant painting of a warship in its prime.
Bond and Patrice fight in a half-finished office space that functions as a hall of mirrors. It's also a metaphor for an situation where the truth is hard to discern, sometimes specifically for the spy business.
M's British Bulldog ornament can be seen as representing Bond's patriotism and tenacity. Like Bond, it survives the downfall of the old regime and remains after M is gone. M leaving it to him is a sign she wants him to carry on.
Sawed-Off Shotgun: Kincade takes on Silva's men with one - after a memorable scene where he is seen sawing the barrels short and then blasting a hole in the shed wall.
Soft Water: Bond survives falling off a bridge and going over a waterfall in rapid succession (after being shot) thanks to this trope. Though he does mention later that he broke four ribs and damaged "some of the less vital organs."
The French song that plays on Silva's island, "Boum!", sung by Charles Trenet prior to World War 2. It is mostly about nature, love, and thunder. The titular "BOOM" onomatopoeia in the song also refers to cannon fire from the Maginot Line (where he sung for French troops), albeit on a joyful tone.
This is recalled again later in the film when Silva broadcasts The Animals' cover version of the John Lee Hooker blues song "Boom Boom" over his helicopter loudspeakers as he approaches Skyfall.
At least the lyrics fit a bit:
Boom, boom, boom, boom
I'm gonna shoot you right down
Spoiler Opening: The opening theme foreshadows most of the movie's plot, as well as the final battle at Skyfall. It also mentioned that the titular house is burn down during the battle (i.e. "Let the Skyfall, when it crumbles").
Stepford Smiler: Severine, who was a child sex slave abused for years and still suffers at the hands of Silva. Bond sees through her veneer, and her smile slowly gets faker and faker as Bond gets under it.
Tragic Keepsake: The little Union Jack bulldog figurine seen on M's desk, which survives the destruction of MI6 headquarters, is later left to Bond in M's will. Given Bond absolutely hated the thing, it was meant as a final joke by M.
Trash the Set: Bond's iconic Aston Martin DB5 gets blown up in the finale, along with the eponymous Skyfall manor.
Tragic Villain: Silva, in many ways a profoundly wronged man, turned into a complete psychopath by unfortunate events.
Tranquil Fury: Bond comments "Waste of good Scotch" after Silva kills Severine, only to take out all of Silva's men and deliver a vicious kick to Silva himself seconds later.
Likewise, he seems to be rather miffed when Silva destroys the DB5. Cue massive explosion caused by him that takes out half the mooks present.
Trojan Prisoner: Part of Silva's gambit to get close to M - he gets himself caught by Bond, gets interrogated, then tricks Q into accidentally disabling the security systems so he can escape.
Troll: Silva loves to mock M and Q with his hacks.
Two Lines, No Waiting: During the first half, Bond's mission is the A plot line while M's plot is the B plot.
Unperson: M tells Silva she intends to have his real name struck off MI6's memorial wall, likely the only place his service was ever officially acknowledged. He looks appropriately appalled at the thought.
Verbal Tic: Silva's is "Bip. Oof" to his sentences.
Villainous Breakdown: Silva, by the end of things. He had kept his cool throughout the whole movie but once his plans had started to awry, Silva started to break down considerably.
Visual Pun: Betrayal is the driving theme of this movie. In the end the main villain is literally stabbed in the back.
The Voiceless: Patrice, the French mercenary who stole the NATO hard drive.
Watch the Paint Job: Any car fan will be wincing at Bond casually crushing brand new Volkswagen Beetles. And Silva's men exploding Bond's Aston Martin...
Silva: You see, we are the last two rats. We can either eat each other... mmm... or eat everyone else.
We Have Become Complacent: When asked if MI6 is relevant to the modern world, M responds that there should be an even greater focus on espionage to battle increasingly decentralized modern threats.
We Have Reserves: M is a rare "heroic" example of this, casually treating the lives of her subordinates as expendable assets. This, predictably, comes back to haunt her in a big way. The agent who Bond finds shot when the hard-drive is stolen is revealed to have died simply because Bond was ordered to pursue Patrice. Also, this trope is what drives Silva's retaliation plot.
Wham Line: More for M than for the audience: "Agent down."
What Happened to the Mouse?: Kincade's dogs aren't seen after the scene where he first appears. We hear them barking as Silva's henchmen approach for the final confrontation.
What You Are in the Dark: After Bond returns to duty after being thought dead, Mallory points out that Bond had what every agent would have wished for: a clean exit from the spy business. He could have just stayed "dead" and lived out the rest of his life in comfortable retirement and nobody would ever think otherwise. However, Bond's dedication to Queen and Country motivates him to come back.
William Telling: Silva forces Bond to play a game with him where they have to shoot a glass of whiskey off Severine's head using old Percussion Cap pistols. Bond misses and Silva "wins" by shooting her in the head.
Exact Words: the contest was to knock the glass off her head. Silva did that.
Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Silva just wants to die, but after 5 months of torture and a botched suicide attempt, he's so insane that he believes the only way he can is if he destroys M and everything she stands for first.
Psychologist: I'd like to start with some simple word association, so just tell me the first word that pops into your head. For example, I might say "day", and you might say... Bond: Wasted. Psychologist: [Beat] Alright... Gun. Bond: Shot. Psychologist: Agent. Bond:Provocateur. Psychologist: Woman. Bond:Provocatrix. Psychologist: Heart. Bond: Target. Psychologist: Bird. Bond: Sky. Psychologist: M. Bond: Bitch. [camera pointsto M, then back to interview] Psychologist: Sunlight. Bond: Swim. Psychologist: Moonlight. Bond: Dance. Psychologist: Murder. Bond: Employment. Psychologist: Country. Bond: England. Psychologist: Skyfall. Bond: ... Psychologist: Skyfall. Bond: ...Done. (Walks away)
Younger and Hipper: Ben Wishaw as Q is much, much younger than Desmond Llewellyn or John Cleese were in their performances as Q.
Your Favorite: Silva presents the bottle of scotch to Bond, pours two glasses, and gives one to Bond. Instead of drinking the other himself, he uses it for the target in the William Tell contest.