Even though I enjoy the Bond franchise and I acknowledge it’s the best of Daniel Craig’s outings as the legendary spy so far, I really can’t like Skyfall.
Yes, Casino Royale was a welcome break from the previous era of Brosnan’s Bonds with their far-fetched plots. But the story was cheap, shoehorning in a poker tournament featuring a villain who’s supposedly a master player even though his eyes bleed when he’s bluffing.
Quantum of Solace was a mess, mostly because of its weird stakes. Because a Bond movie can have low but classic stakes, like bringing a Soviet agent to the West or retrieving an encoding machine; or high stakes like saving the world from a mad villain who wants to poison all human beings so he can replace them with his own personal brand of Übernmenschen. But nobody really cares about a villain who’s about to acquire a majority stake in Bolivia’s water distribution industry.
And Spectre was ridiculous with its attempts to retcon the previous films and pretend everything that happened to Bond ever was a well-crafted revenge plot specifically designed against him by his long-lost foster brother, who probably never got over Bond’s supremacy at Street Fighter II.
But Sam Mendes’ first Bond, reputedly, has a good and original story. Except it hasn’t and I really can’t like it. Because I’ve seen something about it that I can’t unsee and that breaks it for me.
What’s that thing? Plagiarism. And what did it plagiarize? Christopher Nolan’s first two Batman movies, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Don’t believe me? Check it out:
The villain, Silva, is a psychopath with weirdly discolored hair and a horrible scar around his mouth. Sounds familiar?
One of James Bond’s most unchangeable tropes is the girl he gets at the end. Except in Skyfall when she dies halfway through. Guess which other film pulled that twist?
The villain’s plan is to get captured on purpose so he can spring his plan from the inside. I think I recall The Joker doing exactly that in The Dark Knight.
For the first time, we get some backstory for Bond’s early years. Surprise: he’s an orphan! Like Bruce Wayne. He grew up in an isolated mansion. Like Bruce Wayne. That’s still guarded by an old and loyal butler. Like Bruce Wayne.
And when the villains show up at that old family house, they burn it down. But Bond escape thanks to the secret passage leading to a network of caves under the house. Exactly like in Batman Begins.
I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it and I really can’t like Skyfall.
But I’m hopeful Sam Mendes’ next film will reconcile me with his work. 1917. It promises to be a riveting war movie, told not from the point of view of the generals trying to win the war but of the humble soldiers desperately trying to survive it. A human point of view reinforced by a clever editing choice—
Wait. What was Christopher Nolan’s last movie again?
I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it and now, neither can you. Sorry.