Study Guide

Skyfall James Bond (Daniel Craig)

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James Bond (Daniel Craig)

Shaken and Stirred

Bond. James Bond. What else is there to say about the world's favorite debonair super spy?

Tons more, actually.

If you've been following Bond since Daniel Craig's 007 debut in Casino Royale, you've seen quite a bit of character development. Over the course of three films, Bond has gone from up-and-coming young superstar spy to a man past his prime. It happened in the blink of an eye, just like the fame of an Instagram celebrity.

In Skyfall, Bond is dealing with two sources of internal conflict—getting old and feeling expendable, like the olives in his martini glass. The two issues are closely intertwined.

Let's talk about feeling expendable first. After the film's thrilling introductory chase scene, Bond is shot. Not by the bad guy, but by his fellow agent, Eve. And not exactly on accident. Eve is ordered to shoot, even though she fears she might hit Bond.

M: Take the shot. [pause] I said take the shot.

EVE: I can't! I may hit Bond.

M: Take the bloody shot!

Bond falls off a high bridge and is presumed dead. RIP 007.

Well, okay, of course he survives; otherwise, we wouldn't have a movie.

But after putting aside any hard feelings he has toward M, his old age starts to comes into play in a real way for him. Bond must recuperate from his injuries, a process that takes much longer as an older man than it did a young whippersnapper. He has to work twice as hard to get back into the same shape—and to fit into those impeccably tailored suits.

And although Bond survives, he doesn't thrive. He fails to pass his physical and other evaluations, and he's only admitted back into service because M lies about his results. He's a martini made with well liquor, even though M continues to tell people he's a top-shelf brand.

Shot Through the Heart, and M's to Blame…

Bond may seem like a cold-blooded person, an agent of death with a heart of steel. But underneath the tuxedo, the pecs, and the pure stream of vodka coursing through his veins, Bond is actually—dare we say it—a romantic.

That romantic nature is hinted at in the musical sequence, which is filled with imagery of Bond shot through the heart. And then we get lyrics from Adele like "Feel the earth move and then / Hear my heart burst again" and "You'll never have my heart." Then, during Bond's word-association game during his psych evaluation, Bond matches "sunlight" with "swim" and "moonlight" with "dance." Could he be writing poetry in his downtime?

We also see this exchange, however:


BOND: Target

What could Bond mean by this?

Well, emotions are a liability in the spy game. In the film's opening sequence, we see Bond upset at having to leave his colleague Ronson behind. At the end, we see him cry—yes, Bond cries—over M's death. He cared about her as more than just a boss, which is why he goes to such great lengths to protect her, and why he's so wracked with emotion when she is killed.

Bond's history of heartbreak goes back, way back, before the plot of Skyfall begins, and before the plot of any Bond movie. According to his psych evaluation, Bond has experienced a "pathological rejection of authority based on unresolved childhood trauma."

Again, we only get hints of this trauma. It's exposed when M and Bond have the following conversation in the Scottish countryside.

M: How old were you when they died?

BOND: You know the answer to that. You know the whole story.

M: Orphans always make the best recruits.

Bond has deep psychological and emotional issues that he has covered up by appearing fantastically cool, calm, and collected over the years. But that can't last forever, and at the end of Skyfall, Bond finds he must return home to confront his past in his own way. That's not an easy thing to do, and Bond is not particularly looking forward to it. Here's how he puts it:

BOND: Storm's coming.

We talk about the finale more in our "What's Up With the Ending?" section, but we'll let you know here that when Bond returns to his childhood house, it's an explosive homecoming. Confronting old feelings is often a combustible event.

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