Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema the Spy Who Loved M

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema the Spy Who Loved M

Article excerpt

Skyfall 12A, Nationwide Skyfall is the latest James Bond film, as directed by Sam Mendes, which I felt I should make clear, as there is always so little pre-publicity around these releases. (You'd think the marketing people would splatter the poster on every bus and ensure every newspaper runs through every Bond Girl yet again, wouldn't you? Pathetic. ) But, now it has quietly sneaked up on us, is it any good?

Yes, it is rather. It takes up the baton which Casino Royale proffered but Quantum of Solace dropped. By this, I mean although all the furniture is in place - the cars the gadgets the women the stunts the exotic locations - it further explores Bond as a fully-fledged character, and has emotional heft. Actually, something quite Freudian emerges. Bond, it seems, has mummy issues, with M emerging as a surrogate mother of sorts. Neat. Interesting. If I'd been asked to title this film, I'd have called it The Spy Who Loved M, but I wasn't, and if you don't ask you don't get.

Still, never mind. Their loss.

The film, as tradition demands, erupts on screen with a 20-minute all-action pre-title sequence taking in a motorbike chase across the rooftops of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar and a fight atop a hurtling train but not, alas, a high-speed car chase through a busy market so stalls can topple and melons and oranges can spill everywhere. Only joshing you.

Of course there is a car chase through a busy market, knocking over stalls and spilling oranges and melons everywhere, you big ninny. This is a Bond film. Then it's the titles and Adele belting out the theme tune and then we are in London, with M. M is, of course, played by Judi Dench, who is quite my favourite actress (although don't tell Meryl! ).

M is in trouble. Under her jurisdiction, cyber terrorists have stolen a hard drive containing a complete list of Nato operatives working undercover and have started publishing the names online. (A nod to Assange and WikiLeaks? ) M is under pressure to quit, particularly after MI6 goes up in smoke, and seems to be the terrorist's main target. Bond (Daniel Craig) must protect her. Craig is still the best Bond there has ever been, in my opinion, which isn't worth much, I admit. (I once tried selling my opinions on eBay, and didn't get a single bid, even though I offered free delivery! …

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