Skyfall was viewed and reviewed by our film club.
Everybody has had their say about Skyfall so I will not attempt a review. I will merely record some thoughts that came out of some fairly heated discussions when the Aliens & Others met recently at the BFI Riverside Café.
Bond himself has undergone rather a dramatic transformation over the years of changing norms and socio-historical circumstances. Terrorism is now the face of the enemy. Bond is no longer just a tuxedoed, one-liner-spouting, poised gentleman. What Daniel Craig seems to bring to the character of Bond, where the others have failed, is a deep-seated capacity for cruelty. This is perhaps closer to the character envisioned by Flemming in his series of novels on which the franchise is based.
Excluding the London location, the set of Skyfall is dramatic and romantic – an apt landscape for the tragedy which unfolds. At this point I must digress and say ‘Well done!’ to cast, crew, producers and even to the press, for successfully keeping certain plot developments secret… it’s been a while since I watched a film which surprised me.
Back to location/setting – the Skyfall siege sequence holds a kind of Rambo style appeal, which almost feels like an action film within a Bond film. To this effect Raul Silva (Javier Bardem) is probably one of the best and most relentless Bond villains of the franchise, though his confused ‘mother’ obsession is a little disturbing and over the top.
For me, the only real issue I have with Skyfall is the distasteful way with which the trafficking issue was dealt. The character of Severine (Berenice Marlohe) has been trafficked, and is a ‘possession’ of Silva’s, under heavy guard by a collection of muscled hoodlums as is to be expected. There is a poignant scene in a bar were Bond (Craig) speaks to her situation in a tender way and she is visibly touched by his kindness. The sense the audience gets is that she has hitherto not been valued as anything other than a possession for Silva and his men to abuse.
Human trafficking, especially the trade of women for sexual use, is a huge issue in society today and I felt this particular scene dealt carefully with it. Unfortunately, this scene is soon followed by one where Bond seeks her out and ‘has his way’ with her in the shower. She is suddenly reduced to another one of Bond’s beautiful conquests, a woman to be used and discarded. As a woman, there is something extremely unsettling about this development.
She ultimately loses her life in a game of target practice with the words, ‘What a waste of Scotch!’. I found this flippant view of death disturbing.
I believe both women and men want to see better modelling in film. From a villain this is expected. A hero has greater responsibilities.