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The End of an Era
Casino Royale was a reboot, plain and simple, stripping Bond back to his most basic elements and discarding much of the old Bond baggage. It found a balance between the suave superspy, laden with gadgets and perfect hair, and the rough-and-tumble kineticism of The Bourne Series. Quantum Of Solace swung too far in the new direction, and Skyfall makes a brilliant correction... but in doing so, swerves perilously close to the old ways.

The best thing about Casino Royale was its minimalism: not just because it's an Origins Episode, but in how it approached Bond. All it contains is M, a tuxedo and Vesper. The scope is very personal, but this strengthens the film, and the next two Craig films keep that focus. (It should be pointed out that I think Quantum is underrated. We rightly decried the Jitter Cam, but everything else about it is pretty solid.) Daniel Craig plays Bond solitary, nasty, brutish and short, putting an edge on the character that works well in our Darker And Edgier zeitgeist. The villains are genuinely sinister, striking the right balance between groundedness and eccentricity; Bardem's Raoul Silva is unquestionably the best of the lot.

Skyfall being the 50th-anniversary milestone, callbacks and shout-outs were inevitable, and we get a new Moneypenny, Q and (thanks to Judi Dench's retirement) M. They are all played well and interestingly, which bodes well for the future, because—believe or not—I believe the franchise now rests on their shoulders, not Bond's. The strength of the Craig movies is their lack of mythos—their willingness to let Bond operate without being laden down by gadgetry and tradition and characters who are little more than Continuity Gags. And these characters aren't continuity gags: they are active and plot-relevant, and make the film better by their inclusion. It's the right direction to go.

Craig has shown us that Bond can learn new tricks; he has 007 in exciting directions. If Q, Moneypenny and M are allowed to do the same, the franchise is safe for (God willing) 50 years more. If they don't, Bond's 24th outing may well be his last. But either way, it's the end of an era. This film is the Genre Killer for Tuxedo And Martini; all that remains to be seen is whether the franchise itself catches on.
I don't agree that the ending of Skyfall re-establishes the old formula. It basically pushes the reset button [i]again[/i], allowing for a new era without the baggage from the new trilogy (the whole thing about Eva, the sense that Bond is a newbie/too old etc). A few old ingredients have been thrown in (Moneypenny, new M, new Q), but we have no idea how these characters will be established. I could see New M and Bond being more chummy, and Q being a necessary injection of comic relief, whilst handling technical exposition. Maybe Moneypenny will be more involved too - as was the case in Skyfall. I think it is too early to worry about regression.

My real concern is, what do they do for a villain now? Surely we can't have yet another rich white male European?
comment #16982 maninahat 26th Nov 12
I think you're overstating the film as a Genre Killer — it's the most Tuxedo And Martini of the Daniel Craig Bonds. If anything, Skyfall is a reconstruction of Tuxedo And Martini — even without gadgets, you don't need to be drab. You can have beautiful locales, beautiful women, great action, and a hammy villain and still turn out a great film.
comment #17064 CrimsonZephyr 3rd Dec 12
I agree with Crimson Zephyr. This movie is not a Genre Killer but a Reconstruction of the Tuxedo And Martini. There's beautiful locales, a hammy over the top villain, and awesome action. Q and his gadgets return (even if it's just a radio at this point), Moneypenny and their banter is back, and the Universal Exports office is back as well.
comment #17303 gameragodzilla 17th Dec 12
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