SKYFALL directed by Sam Mendes (UK, 2012)

The final lo-tech half hour of this movie reminded of Christmas Day 1965,  a large part of which I spent looking for James Bond in my living room.


My mom and dad had gifted me a Corgi model of the silver Aston Martin DB5 which made its screen debut in 1964 for Goldfinger and is in action again in Skyfall.

My version was equipped with machine guns (non firing), extending wheel shredder (cheap red plastic) and an ejector seat (fully functioning!).

Bond in pre-Aston Martin mode

The final modification worked so well that Bond was ejected at speed and frequently disappeared under the sofa or elsewhere in the room. Eventually he was lost completely and, 007 being irreplaceable, the car remained fully functioning but driverless.

It is a master stroke of Sam Mendes to pay homage to Bond’s Scottish roots as a nod towards the 50th anniversary of Bond movies.

It also demonstrates that you have can have a perfectly thrilling explosion packed finale without improbable high-tech devices. Good old-fashioned dynamite and sawn-off shotguns can still do the job perfectly well.

As Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw recently pointed out, James Bond films never have anything you could identify as a coherent plot. Instead, the movies have a sequence of set pieces such as high speed car chases, sex in exotic locations, close encounters with the villains etc.

Mendes knows better than to change this formula for Skyfall but he takes his responsibility seriously enough not try to sneak in any arty postmodern touches. What he does do is give us real characters rather than comic strip figures. The story is still ludicrous enough to beggar belief but the top rate cast make for two hours of entertainment that doesn’t insult the audience’s intelligence or bombard us with elaborate special effects.

Apparently, the success of this movie, coupled with this being Bond’s golden anniversary year, means that toy manufacturers are producing plenty of tie-in merchandise. I might even be able to get a new plastic Bond. Now what did I do with that model car?

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