As speculation continues about Skyfall – the upcoming, 23rd instalment of the James Bond franchise – we thought we’d round-up the need-to-know, hard facts about 007’s next mission.
In terms of plotline the studios (Eon, MGM and Sony) are being typically cagey. The suggestion is that Bond’s loyalty to M will be tested as part of her more-than-chequered past resurfaces. MI6 comes under attack and Bond is tasked with tracking down those responsible. Not exactly a detailed synopsis, but some hint of strain on Bond/M relations, which is always an intriguing angle.
A great deal of the recent excitement about Skyfall, however, has stemmed from the casting of Javier Bardem as the scoundrel of the piece: Raoul Silva. Many would agree that the strength of a Bond film often relies on the strength of the villain and selecting the Oscar-winning Bardem in that role, unless it’s severely underwritten, seems an almost fool-proof move. Little has been revealed about the nature of the character but photos were released in April of Bardem on-set sporting a blonde wig. A curious style choice but we’re sure he has his reasons.
Other Skyfall snippets worthy of note include that much of the film has been shot in India and that director Sam Mendes has confirmed that China will make an appearance. There are also some scenes to look forward to in Sean Connery’s natural home: Scotland, with the finale playing out in highland retreat of Glencoe. British actor Ben Whishaw has been cast in the role of Q and according to reports by the BBC late last year Whishaw is 12 years younger than Craig. This is the first time that Q has been depicted as Bond’s junior (John Cleese briefly stood in after Desmond Llwelyn died in a car crash weeks after the release of The World is not Enough). Joining Craig, Bardem and Whishaw, aside from the now-regular Judi Dench, will be Ralph Fiennes playing Mallory: an official who regulates MI6 and Naomie Harris as a field agent named Eve. A tenner says she winds up in the sack with Bond. No go on, it’s quite likely so let’s say twenty.
Finally, the fact that Sam Mendes is sitting in the director’s chair is yet another decision to have caused a stir amongst fans. Mendes is best-known for 1999’s highly acclaimed American Beauty, but has also worked on Road to Perdition (2002), Revolutionary Road (2008) and the oft-overlooked Away We Go (2009). He’s clearly a director for whom story is paramount and this has caused some ambivalence.
Daniel Craig’s first film as the spy with a licence to kill: Casino Royale (2006) had it all: fast cars, Eva Green and a genuinely intense gambling scene in which our hero loses against the villain. Eva’s Vesper may have been hot but she was also strict with the purse strings and refused to loan Bond the $5million he needed to continue his wager. If only you’d brushed up on your poker skills at PartyPoker.com Mr Bond. Sadly, secret agents have little time for online bookmaking sites and must thus find a more creative way of outwitting the bad guy. This level of detail and delayed gratification was not as cunningly deployed in Craig’s follow up feature: Quantum of Solace (2008) and consequently many felt it underachieved in comparison.
Late last year Total Film reported that Mendes was having a lot of the action edited out of the script in favour of more character-orientated scenes. The insinuation was that this was done in a bid to win an Oscar. Mendes has since denied this but it is questionable how much the action/narrative ratio really matters in the grand scheme of things; Casino Royale was tense and gripping but not every second of the runtime was filled with action. The important thing is surely to create an entertaining feature that will delight fans. If anyone can deliver another spectacular Bond adventure, maybe it is Mendes. Given his attention to detail as a director he’s a good bet if nothing else.