Bond spoiler alert: franchises are forever
Spoiler alert! The following column contains details about the Skyfall plot. It has been out for three weeks already, so if you haven’t seen it yet you’re probably waiting for the DVD release or for Christmas 2015, by which point you’ll have forgotten all about this column and that newspapers even existed.
Suffice to say you don’t need to be a genius to divine the major plot points of a Bond film anyway, such as the fates of 007, the baddie and attendant henchmen. As a service to you, however, and so you can continue in the knowledge that you won’t stumble into spoiler boobytraps, I’ve italicised dangerous paragraphs so you can skip them without ruining your overall enjoyment of this column. Except for this paragraph. This is italicised for separate style-of-spoiler-alert reasons. The result is a column of maddening typographical disorder. Enjoy!
Irish cinema audiences are not given much to cheering, but there was a scene in Skyfall when my fellow cinemagoers raised a shout of delight so surprising it even woke the man snoring in the seat beside me.
It is the scene in which Bond opens a garage door to reveal his old Aston Martin waiting for action. Such warmth ran through the cinema that it was as if someone had piped popcorn butter through the air-conditioning vents.
Italics alert! Bond further proceeds to threaten M with the ejector seat (cinema laughs) and to use its front-light machine guns to mow down bad guys (cinema chuckles) before the Aston Martin is ultimately destroyed in a terribly moving scene that fuses Love Story with Arnie’s thumbs-up-out-of-lava farewell in Terminator 2.
The joke works as a reference not just to previous Bonds but to the film’s central theme – mentioned only every 24 seconds – of the tension between the old ways and the new reality. Except it makes no sense whatsoever, even in the world of James Bond.
Movies, like all fiction, are not meant to make sense within our world, only to have logic within the world in which they exist. Film expects a suspension of disbelief. Bond, as much as any series, requires an extra commitment to that. Its inherent ridiculousness has always been a large part of its appeal.
But even within its own narrative structure Skyfall makes no sense at almost any point. Then again, Bond movies are so filled with contradiction and implausibility that it is futile and overly earnest to go picking apart its plot just to satisfy some nagging itch. So let’s do it.