Bond: The Patriot
Although Bond films have often been about tradition in Skyfall unlike many of the previous films England is a real focus. M has a Doulton British bulldog on her desk, most of the action happens in London or rural Scotland. When Bond plays word association, in reply to 'country' he says 'England'. The strong sense of patriotism laced throughout the film can only have been released in the positive patriotism atmosphere of 2012. It has taken a royal wedding, a jubilee and the Olympics to make the English recognise their latent patriotism and it seems these events have enabled English film makers to join other artists (like Cath Kidston) to recognise their 'English' or 'London'ness (although these are very different concepts, not to be conflated!).
Royal Doulton's British Bulldog
Bond: The Healthy
When you watch a Bond film you expect to see gratuitous violence, sex, Martinis and lots of gambling. Never was this more true than in Casino Royale (2006) which was mainly set in a casino (clue's in the name!). But Skyfall is quite different; there is some sex but it is limited and quite veiled. Whilst Bond does enter a casino he never actually places any bets. He does drink, and occasionally to excess, but this is viewed as part of his demise that requires rectifying rather than something to be idolised. Bond does kill in this film (and equates 'murder' with 'employment' in the aforementioned word association game); but violence is portrayed as the last resort, something that only bad guys do, the 'good' prefer detention. This reflects the health agenda particularly in entertainment; the idols must have healthy gym routines, may in fact be t-total and leave behind their complicated pasts. Being 'zen' is in, being ostentatious is out.
Bond: The Advertiser
There has been plenty of discussion about product placement in this film. The products advertised include: Sony (its a sony film though!), Range Rover, Heineken, Jaguar and Austin Martin. Some of the advertising is actually quite subtle, take Jaguar for example, its just the logo stitched into the headrest of Bond's car. There has been some upset that Bond drinks Heineken and not a Martini, I have to admit I missed this placement and I was looking for it! For what its worth, I think that product placement has always been a part of Bond films, in fact a work colleague told me just this last week that his watch was 'the same as Bond's'. Although the products, and the number needed to sponsor a film, may have changed the necessity of sponsorship is the same as ever - big explosions, wrecking cars and ensuring quality casting all cost money. And sponsors are really helpful in a recession.
Q: The youthful computer nerd
More and more the content of spy entertainment revolves around the impact of e-terror. During Skyfall I was much reminded of the last series of Spooks in which Tariq Masood the techno-geek played an increasingly important role in spy activity. This Bond's Q is the frankly gorgeous, Ben Whishaw, and he plays it modern geeky, he's got the cardigan and dark frames look going down, he is essentially an ethical hacker. His approach is quite different from Micheal Caine's, much younger and less about the gadgets, more focussed on the brain; 'Were you expected an exploding pen? We don't really go in for that anymore'. This shift away from the stuff, and towards the way in which we can use technology to help us achieve our aims seems reminiscent of the 2000+ world.
Ben Wishaw as Q (not my picture!)
As ever this Bond was high-octane, featured a surreal trailer, the words, 'Bond, James Bond', and a reference to Moneypenny. I really liked this Bond because of its focus on Bond as relational human as well as nation's superhero. Definitely one of my favourite Bonds; but then only the third I've seen at the cinema; possibly the last with Craig? See it!