Film: ‘Skyfall’ (2012)

MGM/Columbia Pictures

There’s enough life-and-death chases, derring-do, femmes, and an over-the-top villain in “Skyfall,” the latest addition to the James Bond cinematic catalog, to make it feel familiar. But this entertainment is just as much Moon-and-Mum as it is Mars-and-Guns. As Silva (Javier Bardem), the villain, puts it: “Mommy was very bad.”

Mom, of course, is M (Judi Dench), who, as Mum, has managed to mess with both James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Silva. Silva, an exceptional and well regarded MI6 agent in the past who worked under M, was so diligent that he went a bit too rogue for the team’s own good. His enthusiasm resulted in M’s canning him. Silva has been nursing the after effects of M’s betrayal ever since.

The bracing chase scene that opens the movie is, in fact, tied to Bond’s trying to retrieve a list of agents’ names that Silva has craftily appropriated. Silva has a more nefarious plan to get back at M. And M doesn’t help herself by issuing orders that nearly get Bond killed.

All of which adds up to the fact that Mum doesn’t always know best.

This surrogate mother thing, embraced by and reacted to by both Bond and Silva, adds a family dynamic to “Skyfall” that culminates in the disclosure, later in the movie, that Skyfall is Bond’s Scottish childhood home. Left parentless in childhood, Bond is aware of M’s steadfast belief that orphans have always made the best recruits. Not surprisingly, Bond, M and Silva find their way to that destination at the film’s climax to settle their mother issues once and for all.

Directed by Sam Mendes, “Skyfall” underscores that Silva, despite his hatred of M for formally ending his life as an honorable spy, still has a soft spot in his heart for her when he tells M, “Free us both with the same bullet.”

“Skyfall”’s added dose of Moon and Cancerian energies suggests that working for M was the best and only families either men ever knew. The name of the Bond family compound even evokes the lullaby “Rock-a-Bye Baby.” The ditty’s lyrics – the wind’s unhinging the cradle, and the likely fate of cradle and infant plummeting to the ground – slyly allude to life in MI6 when life and death are in Mum’s hands.

By the movie’s end, M has proven her case that hands-on spying handily beats highly touted technology. Her victory is a paeon to tradition, tactility and, perhaps, love itself.  This is the Bond movie which, by having our hero break one form of maternal bond, breaks Bond himself.

Rating: ☽ (Moon)

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