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007: Best Of Daniel Craig – Casino Royale

DNW: He’s supposed to be a feeble villain though. Slimy, cowardly, but vicious, like DJaws said.

AM: And he is, even without the physical gimmicks. After Mads, there’s the lengthy free running sequence in Madagascar. While I do love the entire piece – it’s epic and exciting as hell – it ends with Bond killing the man he’s trying to catch, rendering the whole sequence pointless.

DJ: Indiana Jones spends ten minutes creeping past booby traps, dealing with betrayal from his team, and barely escaping a giant rolling ball, only to have an idol (which doesn’t come back up in the story at all) stolen from him.

AM: Yes, and that both introduced him, showed him as awesome and made the audience sympathise with him. This just shows what a waste of time the chase was. It feels like a second pre-title sequence.

DJ: It sets up his character, and does directly connect to the rest of the story as it alerts MI6 to the larger plot, giving them the codeword ‘Ellipsis’.

AM: He could have shot him at the start, then, as the codeword is what the whole chase was about.

DJ: No, he could not have. He shot him because of the pickle he’d gotten himself into.

DNW: No, Adam, he was supposed to have apprehended the guy so that they would have been able to interrogate him. Because of Bond’s recklessness all they’re LEFT with is the codeword.

DJ: The scene built to that, didn’t just end there randomly.

DNW: Your dislike of this movie is bordering on irrational right now.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
AM: It doesn’t feel right. He didn’t need to shoot him at all. He blows up the barrel and runs off. The execution was uncalled for.

DJ: I love it. It tells you who he really is.

DNW: Much of the action does.

DJ: Okay, we can agree to disagree on the scene’s ending, but you can’t deny that it’s one of the all-time best foot-chases. It’s utterly stunning. Yes, it’s shot in a “boring” way, but so is The Raid. The wide calm shots let you see the action.

AM: I’m not knocking the scene, it’s masterfully done and beautifully shot, full of great moments. It’s a proper Bond chase.

DNW: The way Craig runs through the wall that Sebastian Foucan flies over is a great little moment, as is the construction vehicle bit beforehand. Bond has no time for adjusting his cufflinks yet.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
AM: He’s not even wearing cufflinks at that point. I do like that he earns his tuxedo.

DNW: The way it’s shot bothers me though. Like you said DJaws, really great stunt choreography and editing, but the shots are so static and the framing is so boring at times. Not to mention I’m really conscious of when they’re using a soundstage.

AM: I never noticed.

DJ: Yeah. I re-watched it after hearing your critique DN, and I see your point, but have to disagree. Sure, Martin Campbell is no Sam Mendes in terms of style, but he’s a smart director who knows how to build a scene in a workmanlike way. He’s a lot like Richard Donner in that regard.

DNW: Another bit I like just before he chase is the way that other agent Bond is with is shown to be completely hapless.

AM: Useless bloke! Causes a panic and can’t even look inconspicuous.

DNW: A personal favourite bit of mine is Bond telling him not to touch his ear. I’m huge fan of Alias and that bothered me constantly. They bring it back in Skyfall too.

DJ: It’s a great touch.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DNW: Alright, next we reach M. Who is still Judi Dench. DJaws, you missed out on our Judi Dench love-in – care to comment?

DJ: She’s inspired.

DNW: That she is. Ultimately I’m glad they kept her around, even though at first I was quite disappointed they didn’t make a completely clean break from the Brosnan era. ‘Christ, I miss the Cold War’ is a fantastic line for introducing that character as well.

DJ: Yep.

AM: Casting The Dame makes no sense to me. Why bother reinventing the franchise if they’re going to keep the same M? They give her a grumpy attitude this time around, but they soon forget it in the next film.

DJ: They forget a lot of things in the next film, like how to hold a camera, frame a shot, or write dialogue.

AM: I made better films than Quantum of Solace in college. And I made Bond vs The Terminator.

DNW: As much as Casino Royale is considered a reinvention, it’s not really that much more of a reinvention than the debuts of other Bonds. The only real difference is that they’re starting at square one. So I can see the logic behind keeping Judi Dench on.

AM: But that lessens its ability to be a fresh start. It would be like having John Cleese appear again as Q.

DJ: Yeah, I had no idea Casino Royale was a “reboot” until I saw it.

DNW: Well, that’s what I was saying before. It makes it feel like less of a clean break, but it doesn’t matter that much in the end, and she had at least as many good moments in Craig’s era as she did in Brosnan’s – arguably more – so I can’t say I blame them for wanting to keep her, or her for wanting to stay. Bond breaking into her apartment is the first interaction that they have, and sets up their relationship quite nicely.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
AM: Bond disrespects M. I have a problem with that. But let’s not dwell on my many issues.

DNW: Bond disrespects M in your favourite Bond movie far more.

AM: He resigns, but he NEVER gives M attitude.

DJ: He was a young punk in Casino Royale.

DNW: It’s banter, Adam, they sass each other. That’s what I mean by setting up their relationship – there’s friction, but an underlying respect and knowledge of one another. Or at least the potential for that to develop. I’m really in love with M’s home too.

AM: Perhaps I’m just being a bastard for bastard’s sake…

DJ: You know, when I re-watched the movie I totally forgot about the whole plane sequence and the fact that they kill off his first sexual conquest in such a brutal way. It’s a great section, but gets lost amidst the great foot chase, the casino stuff, and the huge sinking building finale.

AM: Because the plane stuff is totally irrelevant to the story. If it was the climax of a film, it would be fine. I get the sense they’re doing it just because they can.

DJ: It’s a bit superfluous, I’ll give you that.

DNW: Solange is used and abused. I really like her entrance on the horse, which is overshadowed for many by Daniel Craig’s infamous blue trunks. She’s peripheral Bond girl, but I like her.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DJ: She’s great.

AM: She’s lovely, but having Bond pursue her undermines his affection for Vesper in my mind.

DJ: He hasn’t even met Vesper yet!!!!!!

DNW: And he doesn’t pursue Solange. He’s only using her to find out what her boyfriend is up to. He leaves to go to the plane before they even do anything and, as M comments, shows no pity upon her demise. She’s a very classic Bond girl.

DJ: And it’s showing what a big deal it is for him to open himself up to Vesper.

DNW: Exactly.

AM: They establish how little he cares for women and then make him fall in love. You can’t have it both ways.

DNW: Adam, that makes no sense. The entire point of his relationship with Vesper is that it’s different from the relationships he’s had before. “I have no armour left. You’ve stripped it from me.”

AM: Cringe-worthy.

DNW: …sonofabitch…

DJ: That line is phenomenal, you heartless jerk face.

AM: I feel that it hampers his later relationship. There’s nothing Vesper gives him that any other woman could provide. Seriously, what’s she got? She gives him attitude? She doesn’t find him attractive?

DJ: I’ll tell you what she’s got. She’s a younger, prettier M (which stands for Mother in this film if you ask me). She pushes him back, is a voice of reason, and doesn’t put up with any of his bullsh*t.

AM: And that makes her somehow more desirable than any of the other women Bond could have? He could have ANY woman he wanted. And he chooses the stuck-up bitch with an attitude problem.

DNW: Let’s get back to the airport sequence before this gets any worse. It’s one of the few parts of the movie that feels a little out of place to me. It’s a bit Die Hard 2.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
AM: The plane stuff is just too much. It’s so big, so dramatic and it doesn’t really serve any kind of purpose in the structure. Le Chiffre could have come into the story in any way, why this one?

DJ: Can’t argue with that. But if you’re going to have a superfluous scene in your movie, let it be a great action scene.

AM: I like the idea of it, but it gets lost in amongst the spectacle of the rest of the film.

DNW: Well, it is a Bond movie. Big and dramatic is the name of the game. Le Chiffre loses money due to his being unable to sabotage the inaugural flight of this super plane, it’s as good a catalyst as any other. My only beef with it is the same problem I have with most Bond-in-America stuff, there isn’t a European sophistication or an exoticism that other parts of the world bring, and it winds up feeling very much like a scene that could be slotted into any number of action films.

AM: Very true.

DNW: Craig’s little smirk when it dawns on the enemy he’s been chasing that the bomb isn’t where it should be is a nice touch though. Very smug.

AM: That is great, I love it.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
AM: So then the film proper begins and we meet Vesper Lynd. I think I’ve made my views clear on her.

DNW: You’ve given general thoughts about Vesper, let’s get into specifics. Her introduction on the train is where the movie really picks up for me too.

DJ: It goes to the next level and really builds upon the first section. We know who Bond is by, now we get to see this girl turn that on its head.

DNW: The ‘I’m the money’/every penny of it’ joke seems out of place, but the rest of their conversation on the train is wonderful. I like that they size each other up and, presumably, most of their assumptions are right. Vesper’s certainly got a good idea of who she thinks Bond is.

AM: It’s a decent introduction. Their pop-psychology on the train is quite nice.

DJ: Yes, it’s non-sexy, which is rare for a Bond film. They save that for her entrance to the card game.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DNW: There’s an attraction immediately, and Craig and Eva Green really do have good chemistry onscreen. I’m fond of the moments shortly afterwards when they’re on their way to the mission. The little play fight they have when he teases her that her cover is ‘Stephanie Broadchest’ is a nice bit of characterization for both of them and a cute nod to the audience regarding Bond girl names.

AM: Their playfulness is great, but there isn’t enough of it.

DNW: They all but have a pillow fight in the car, Adam.

AM: That’s the problem. After that she gets all stroppy and they aren’t really happy together until the end.

DNW: She’s not consistently stroppy. She’s stroppy in the following scene because, once again, we have Bond acting foolhardy and announcing his presence by abandoning the cover they JUST received, right away. It’s typical Bond – people often mention that he rarely makes use of covers, and Casino Royale has fun with that. It also shows you how desperate Le Chiffre is that he doesn’t care.

DJ: Yep. Haha.

AM: I like the Le Chiffre part. Bond’s first meeting with Le Chiffre is funny: ‘Is it Beach or Bond? I’m a little confused.’/’We can’t have that now, can we?’

DJ: The next bit really reminds me of the movie Maverick. That long section where they play poker, then when they go to their rooms folks try to kill them or they have sex, then they play poker again. I love that it’s the same two scenes over and over again, but they build the tension so well that it works.

DNW: The next bit is the ‘I got you a dress’ scene, where Vesper got Bond a suit…

AM: And he finally puts on the tux. It looks fantastic and it’s really underplayed.

DNW: It does a great job of establishing Vesper as being more than just another woman to Bond too. She’s beaten him at his own game here, or at least matched him. ‘There are dinner jackets, an the there are dinner jackets, this is the latter’ seems far more authoritative to me than Bond’s ‘I need you to look good when you walk in.’ She also undermines his authority later by coming in from the other direction. And yeah, Craig rocks the suit really well.

AM: He looks good. And as DJaws said, the next section is really entertaining.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DNW: What’s good to me there is that Bond initially loses, things don’t go according to plan, and he resorts to the same plan he had at the beginning of the movie – this isn’t working out, I’ll just kill the guy. Plan B is always ‘just kill the guy.’

AM: A cracking bit, that. I must be ‘that guy’ again and have a problem with the bit where the two terrorists show up and try to kill Le Chiffre. It’s very superfluous.

DJ: It’s a bit hard to swallow that those two fellas came all the way from Africa, found him there, just to rough him up. But on a character level it drives Le Chiffre further into desperation and makes his torture scene later all the more powerful. So it’s good and bad.

AM: Six of one…

DNW: DJaws is right, the scene with the African guys shows you what’s a stake for Le Chiffre. It’s indispensable. It also allows Vesper to see Bond do what Bond does first hand, which is again, indispensable. I adore the bit where they’re huddled together in the shower after Vesper witnesses that carnage.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
AM: I love this middle section. It blows the other two parts out of the water. This, here, is James Bond.

DJ: I’m taken by how LONG it is (or how long it seems). They play poker for like an hour, but it totally works.

AM: It’s great. The majority of the novel is Bond gambling and it works really well there too. Then we meet Felix Leiter WHO IS BLACK CAUSE THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, YO!

DJ: And is played by one of the worst character actors working today. Such a shame.

AM: Yeah, lets the side down. I like his beard though.

DNW: I love Jeffrey Wright as an actor and as Felix! But lets not dwell on that. Felix bails Bond out. Felix is ‘bleeding chips’ because he’s an American in a Bond movie.

AM: And, as you pointed out, they are not allowed to be good.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DNW: Right. With Bond back in the game and even greater pressure on Le Chiffre, Le Chiffre tries to kill Bond by poisoning his drink. Side note: Bond drinks too much.

AM: Another great moment as Bond tries to defibrillate himself.

DNW: It makes you wonder why they decided against having Q in the movie, he could easily have been the guy on the end of the phone telling Bond how to use the thing. It has to partially be the restricted thinking of ‘if it’s not a Q scene that adheres to the formula, there’s no place for him.’

AM: It’s also a very silly gadget.

DNW: What’s silly about a defibrillator?

DJ: “Only have a heart attack if you’re in the car.”

AM: Exactly. Very specific, like all Q gadgets.

DNW: It’s a tense scene, even though we know Bond isn’t in any real danger.

AM: Agreed, but it’s very gadgety for a non-gadget film.

DNW: Bond goes on to win the game despite perspiration issues, which means Le Chiffre goes absolutely ballistic. He takes Vesper and Bond pursues, only to flip his car what seems like a billion times in a really good stunt, and be abducted too.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
AM: How did they drop Vesper off? They weren’t that far ahead. They didn’t have time to stop, put her on the floor and drive off.

DJ: Side note, my wife was in a car accident 5 years ago and the cops estimated she flipped as many times as that stunt.

AM: Your wife is James Bond. Unless she was hurt. I’ll feel awful about saying that if she was hurt.

DJ: So I’m Vesper? She better watch out. She was almost paralyzed, but she’s fine now.

AM: Phew. Glad to hear that.

DJ: Suffice to say, impossible logistics aside, it’s a phenomenal stunt.

AM: It’s good. And it was in the book, sort of.

DNW: then we have THE torture scene. Which is great for many more reasons than simply the torture.

AM: It’s also a funny torture scene.

DNW: It’s darkly comic. Bond is at his lowest point here.

DJ: Yeah, the torture scene is brilliant in its simplicity. And it’s a good example of how much better these Craig Bond flicks are on a story level. though when I say Craig Bond, I mean Casino Royale, because Quantum sucked and I haven’t seen Skyfall…

DNW: The wit and the sarcasm as Bond is having his manhood carpet-beaten make it more than just a torture scene, it shows you what Bond is really made of.

DJ: It’s just two dudes, a chair, and a rope and it has ten times the dramatic gut punch of any gold-painted, mud-dropping, shark-tank dangling torture scene before it.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DNW: Well, it’s in the book, which is the first Bond novel. It predates those more elaborate torture scenes, but it’s also their template. Substitute a carpet beater for a laser and it’s the Goldfinger scene. Only Bond is actually being assaulted, rather than simply threatened.

DJ: Yep. And I’ve never had an emotional attachment to a Bond scene like I did with this one. I actually cared about him as a person, not just as a movie hero.

AM: I do like it. Almost the same as the book, and that made my flesh crawl just as much. The simplicity of it makes it stand out. He’s never appeared so vulnerable.

DNW: Or so strong. I feel bad about constantly referencing Batman and Star Wars like they’re the only movies in existence, but it reminds me of the interrogation in The Dark Knight, where the Joker taunts Batman by saying there’s nothing he can do with all his strength. Le Chiffre has the upper hand, but it’s meaningless because Bond will not back down.

DJ: Both of your comments are true. He’s completely torn down emotionally. The entire movie has been stripping away that cheesy “armour” that Mason hates so much, and here we see his bare nerves. There’s nothing left but his decision not to crack, we finally see who he truly is under it all, and you absolutely love him for it. So in that sense, he’s completely beaten (figuratively and literally) and yet he’s never been stronger, because the bad guy CAN NOT WIN at that point, even if he kills Bond.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
AM: I love how bleak it seems, even if the escape is slightly too easy.

DJ: They dug too deep a hole and he needs to be rescued.

DNW: I like it. The only alternative would have been to have had Felix and the CIA come to the rescue. And they’re American.

AM: It bugs me that the CIA disappears from the film completely.

DNW: Well they can’t have custody of a dead man, can they?

AM: But how did Le Chiffre slip through their hands in the first place? He was theirs.

DJ: Movie magic. Okay, lets talk about the final act.

DNW: It’s great. Bond makes sure everything still works, and decides that he’ll run off with Vesper to Italy. Best photography in the movie.

AM: Part Three: Venetian Apocalypse.

DJ: Actually, its act four.

AM: This act goes on far too long.

DNW: What makes you say that? I love it top to bottom.

AM: It’s immensely lengthy. Just too long for what it is. And Vesper’s death is absurdly convoluted.

DJ: I love it too, but it does feel tacked on at first. It won me over.

AM: I remain unconvinced.

DJ: It’s a fourth act akin to the end of The Ring, actually. The movie is over, could end nicely, and they pull a twist which generates its own mini movie. It’s unneeded in some regards, in that Vesper was never the point of the plot, but wow to they pull it off somehow. In my opinion anyway.

DNW: There’s nothing I’d change about any of it. The length is perfect to me, and Vesper’s death is excellent. The shot of her in the lift underwater…I love it. And it’s obviously pivotal to Bond’s arc.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DJ: Yep. It’s powerful stuff. And the set piece of the sinking building is just so damn iconic.

AM: I understand that, it felt tacked on in the novel, too. It just lacks oomph. In the book Bond discovers her body and a handful of pills, and I much preferred the starkness of that.

DJ: I love the grand finish.

DNW: Likewise.

AM: There’s a good shot of Bond on a piece of floating wreckage, trying to revive her that I like.

DJ: It’s pretty intense. Where’s your defibrillator now, asshole? Shouldn’t have left it in the car.

AM: Stupid gadgets always only serving one purpose.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DJ: Then we escape to the tiny little revenge denouement, that sets up Quantum of Bore Us. I love how the final shot is his total transformation into Bond.

AM: I must say, this is my favourite ending in the whole series.

DNW: The score here is deployed excellently. And as I stated earlier, I love Mr White. Something great about that guy.

AM: The sheer power of the music is phenomenal.

DNW: Casino Royale might have my favourite Bond score, for this cue and Vesper’s theme alone.

AM: Love how it ends with those words. So much awesome. I also like how Craig puts weight on the legacy. HE. IS. BOND (at that moment in time.)

DJ: Yep.

Skyfall, Best Of Daniel Craig, Casino Royale
DNW: Okay, final thoughts?

AM: So, on the whole, I still don’t like it.

DJ: And yet you like The Living Daylights? You like a DALTON MOVIE over this?!?!! The most BORING of all the Bond flicks?!?!?!

AM: YES AND I WILL STAND BY DALTON ANY DAY OF THE WEEK!

DJ: AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

AM: *fisticuffs ensue *

DNW: He prefers Licence to Kill to Living Daylights, even. And Licence to Kill is barely a Bond film at all.

AM: That’s why I like it. I like Die Hard 3 for similar reasons.

DJ: Die Hard 3 is very underrated. Despite the weak ending, the first two thirds are pretty damn fun. But the dump truck surfing killed it.

AM: The rest is gold.

DNW: Uh…Casino Royale though.

AM: Still don’t like it.

DJ: I feel that way about Dr No, despite DN’s arguments for it. He made me realize just how good the set design is, but I still can’t jive with the slow pace.

DNW: I feel like you made up you mind you didn’t like it a long time ago and are unwilling to revise your stance, Adam. Some of your criticisms are really thin, and you enjoy large parts of it.

AM: Maybe. I just can’t do with it. I love the actual ‘Casino Royale’ bit, but it’s overloaded and overblown in many aspects. The first hour is totally irrelevant and the ending goes on too long.

DNW: I think they could have trimmed the first act and shot it better, but it’s a really solid movie, definitely up there with the best Bond movies ever. I think Craig made a real splash as Bond because he has such range as an actor, he’s capable of being extremely venomous, extremely physical and extremely sensitive. That’s a lot of extremes.

AM: He’s good, but I wasn’t taken with him off the strength of this alone.

DNW: DJaws?

DJ: Easily the best Bond movie I’ve seen, it runs dramatic circles around Dr No in terms of character. It’s daring in its structure and in how much it tries to pack in. I really, really love it. Probably the only Bond flick I’d truly consider a great film.

DNW: Not for long bro.

AM: SEE SKYFALL

DJ: Yeah, I can’t wait to see it.

AM: You’re going to hate it now. We’ve built it up.

DNW: Unless you completely surprise me with your reaction to Skyfall which, let’s face it, is not without precedent.

Other Chapters
007: Best Of Sean Connery – Dr.No
007: Worst Of Sean Connery – Diamonds Are Forever
007: Best & Worst Of George Lazenby – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
007: Best Of Roger Moore – The Spy Who Loved Me
007: Worst Of Roger Moore – A View To A Kill
007: Best Of Timothy Dalton – The Living Daylights
007: Worst Of Timothy Dalton – Licence To Kill
007: Best Of Pierce Brosnan – GoldenEye
007: Worst Of Pierce Brosnan – The World Is Not Enough
007: Best Of Daniel Craig – Casino Royale
007: Worst Of Daniel Craig – Quantum Of Solace

David Williams & Adam Mason will return in ‘The Worst Of Daniel Craig’

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7 Comments »

  • Sheridan Passell said
    Sheridan Passell

    I really like the structure of Casino Royale, how unconventional it is. And I enjoy that is it based around a card game and how that plays out.

    It has a great villain. As you say David, he’s slimy, he doesn’t just act slimy he literally looks slimy, there is often some sort of shiny slimy sweat on his face.

    Daniel Craig gives a strong acting performance, no doubt, and it’s certainly a success. For me he still isn’t quite Bond somehow, rather a really interesting spy. Bond went to Eton, Craig doesn’t have that air at all. When I hear the Bond theme, I never picture him, it’s always his predecessors.

    It’s a bit of a ‘screenwriters movie’ which I find offputting in places. Characters spout extremely accurate character analysis of each other in an unrealistic and far-too-convenient way.

    I partially agree with Adam about the romance, it doesn’t fully work for me. I don’t see the attraction between the two until very late in the story. She’s frigid, boring and hostile until after they are kidnapped, a long way into the film by which time he’s already smitten. Lazenby and Rigg had more chemistry with about 1/10th of the screen time.

    Part of me would have liked to have seen more ‘origin’ in this origin story. He starts out in the field. Should there have been an intriguing, daring half an hour of how he got there?

    Overall a very good movie anyway.

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  • gd smith said

    the weeping blood thing is basically a version of stigmata borrowed from Horror films. In the Hammer Dracula Christopher Lee weeps blood. It’s there to make the character seem like a sort of perverse Christ-like figure. Please stop comparing everything to Chris Nolan’s Dark Night films, they are not actually the be all and end all of cinema or even that original.

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    • dnwilliams said
      dnwilliams

      The string of Batman references has been unintentional, just felt they were worth mentioning due to being strongly influenced by Bond and in turn influencing the latest Bond movie. It’s interesting to me how these long-running franchises feed off of each other, there’s been a bit of give and take with Star Wars and Star Trek of late too.

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      • gd smith said

        I don’t think it’s so much a direct interplay between franchises as it is about pop cultural archetypes. Both Bond and Batman were influenced by Philip Marlow. In Bond’s case the idea of a moral man in an immoral universe doing his job and in Batman’s a gentleman who fights crime but never kills.

        With Skyfall you could just as easily say Harry Potter as the Dark Knight. An orphan enters a secret world hidden from ordinary folk within the bowels of London, is mentored by a wise parental figure who inspires trust in some, but is also under attack by others. A former member of that secret, world who’s real name cannot be spoken, is using his immense power to overthrow it. The mentor dies and there’s even a hagrid figure. But this isn’t because Skyfall is deliberately riffing on the Half Blood Prince or whatever, it’s because those ideas are common throughout pop culture. Nearly all superheroes are in some way orphaned, most have mentors. A few have comical or noble older characters who act as a scrt of surrogate uncle. The idea of the villain and hero being versions of each other is also old, Moriarty and Holmes.

        The ending of both the Dark Knight and Skyfall are not dissimilar to Silence of the Lambs, the Usual Suspects or even Saw. Pop culture is an interplay of all sorts of set ideas and influences. Nothing is original.

        What annoys me is when people call things rip offs or see stylistic similarities that aren’t really there. For instance Nolan favours close tight cross cut editing and no scene is ever allowed to just play out naturally, Skyfall allows scenes to flow. One is new school film grammar the the other old school. Personally, I prefer old school,

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        • dnwilliams said
          dnwilliams

          You’re right, you definitely find the shoulders of giants if you look at the feet of these massive characters; Batman is known for being heavily influenced by Zorro, for example. The Harry Potter comparison isn’t quite the same though – I understand your point, if you’re reductive enough there are points of comparison with a lot of heroic narratives, but Mendes has specifically acknowledged the impact that TDK had on his movie, just as Nolan noted the influence of Bond on his work. You definitely get Nolan-Joker vibes from Skyfall’s Silva and Q vibes from Batman Begins’s Lucius Fox, for instance, which is a case of the antagonists and secondary characters of these movies being approached with an intent to emulate something they appreciated in another picture, rather than generic Hero’s Journey type stuff focusing on the protagonist.

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          • gd smith said

            Well of course Mendes will acknowledge The Dark Knight, Nolan is currently the de rigueur maker of intelligent blockbusters to name check., But that’s different to saying that Silva is a version of the joker. For a start the Joker is reminiscent of loads of disfigured humorous villains including Doctor Phibes and the arc of his plan is not that far removed from Seven’s John Doe. There are others including, obviously, the comic book joker and ultimately Pan, god of mischief and panic. Nolan acknowledges a debt to Micheal Bay. Does this mean that the Dark Knight is a version of Con Air or the Rock? There are small traces of both in Nolan’s film. Sure, you can see little traces of the Dark Knight in Skyfall. But it doesn’t means it’s massively indebted and Q reminded me of the current Doctor Who more than Lucius Fox.
            lets be honest the difference between Batman and Bond is the difference between America an Britain. Batman is a cross between a wrestler, Zorro and a private detective. Bond is a cross between Biggles, a cad and a commando.

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        • dnwilliams said
          dnwilliams

          I wasn’t claiming Nolan and Ledger’s Joker had no influences of its own, merely that Mendes probably looked to that recent incarnation of the character as a benchmark for contemporary blockbuster villainy, in addition to looking back over the Bond canon and bringing back various traits of villains past.

          And I was saying that Lucius Fox was very much made into a Q figure in Batman Begins, borrowing the Q/Bond dynamic, not the other way around.

          Even taking influence out of the question, the commonality bears comparison. But the next review is the last in the series, so references of every kind will soon be at an end.

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