Skyfall Plotholes


#21

I couldn’t agree with you more. This is my biggest problem with Skyfall. Mendes wants us to believe he takes Bond onto the next level, that the movie is somewhat “better” than the previous ones.
I mean, I really don’t know if that was his goal but that’s how I always percieved Skyfall. @BondFan rightfully compares it to TDKR vs Barman Forever.
If so, my expectations are higher than. I need to know why the hell names of intelligence agents, the most secret datas of all, were storaged on a laptop hard disk in Turkey. How on earth Silva managed to escape from the cage (okay, let’s assume the virus made the cage open - but than what?) and, unarmed, kill a security guard (and why those people in the corridor nearby work as if nothing happened (when Bond passes them, that’s just ludicrous). The moment when I was forced to believe that taking M to Scotland, alone, is a better plan than, say, calling an SAS unit to protect her, I literally felt offended if not insulted. Not to mention a scene where Silva walks into the government building where the hearing takes place. I’ve been in some ministry buildings myself and I can’t imagine it’s even remotely possible, given the resources he had (I assume that UK government buildings are at least as well protected as here in Poland, probably better).


#23

It’s how I always took it, M, and Bond to a certain extent, knew she was going to her death. It was more about making sure no other died because of mistakes she made.


#24

Still doesn’t work for me. What happens when they draw him out? It’s not unreasonable to assume he 'd be bringing armed help – which he does – and Bond doesn’t know Kincaid will be there to (let alone agree to) help him, and believes if any weapons are there at all, it’s a few hunting rifles (and they’re mostly gone, as it happens). So Bond’s strategy is to finish off Silva and his forces with a cabinet full of rusty fowling pieces and a geriatric bureaucrat? Whether the object is to protect M or make a last stand, it’s an equally dumb move.

I agree all the Bonds have “plot holes” but the key is whether they get in the way of enjoyment. I found I was willing to forgive a lot less in this one, and unlike many Bonds, where it’s only on the drive home that I think, “hey, wait a minute!” with SF, I was second-guessing plot twists - - and Bond’s mental competence – as the film unspooled, which is never good. Now, whether I turned on the film because of these issues or whether conversely I kept looking for faults because I already didn’t like the film somehow, I don’t know.

Certainly i think the fawning praise this film received from seemingly all quarters made me more prone to poke holes in it after the fact. I wanted to say, “Hold on, now. This one’s no better or worse than about 60% of the series, why single it out for special attention?” Honestly I’m still not sure I’ve found an answer to that.


#25

True. And at the core there is a degree of fantasy to any ‘realism’ that is presented. Bond is the only one who can save the day, and he comes up with the plan, not the SAS. The story comes back to him - his old childhood home and his personal car. Bond didn’t seem to expect the helicopter (the DB5 would’ve been enough if the first wave was the end of it) and had to improvise even further, which gives us the drama.


#26

Yes, you’re right, however compare this situation to the QOS finale (one of my favourite, by the way), where the story leads Bond to the point, where he’s alone, with no backup, on the other part of the globe (wheater this makes a difference nowadays is another story), and he simply has to take action either because there is no time and has to stop the villain’s plan (in this case of course it’s about a vengeance, but from time to time he also has to save someone).
In Skyfall he has many, many options but deliberately choses the one which makes no sense, simply for the sake of drama.
As @Orion said above, the point was to make sure noone else dies because of M’s mistakes. True, but what mistakes? She was a chief of intelligence service. Made some errors, that’s the job. The decision to go to Scotland was not only foolish, unprofessional, but very out of characters (Bond’s and M’s).


#27

Maybe so, but I like the inversion of the villain attacking Bond’s ‘lair’, which never happened up until that point.


#28

I agree, the idea is really good.


#29

M was bait - that was the exclipicit point of leaving the breadcrumb trail for Silva.

However, I don’t think that it was in anyway intended for the viewer to assume that bond believed she would be killed. Bonds MO is not to sacrifice those important to him but to fight for them.

He’s a gambler. The odds weren’t in his favour but nevertheless he was gambling that he’d defeat Silva and get himself and M through it in one piece. Of course he’s aware that this may not happen, but that, I believe is always bonds mission.


#30

Thinking about it, I’d agree, Bond believes his own myth to some extent (not entirely unfounded given he takes out a militia with two pensioners and an old car)

Though I do think Dench plays it as someone who believes she’s going to her death, something she has accepted as the weight of all the deaths is, in her mind, on her shoulders. Whether or not things would’ve been different if she’d done things differently is debatable, but certainly she see’s it that way.


#31

I keep coming back to my major issue with this story.

A villain responsible for bombings, shootings and cyber-terrorism turns out to be a former superstar MI-6 agent, long missing and presumed dead after M made a decision that hung him out to dry.

Enter Bond, another former superstar MI-6 agent long missing and presumed dead after M made a decision that hung him out to dry. He kidnaps M and takes her where government intelligence cannot find her, and she ends up dead.

By what logic does Bond earn a pat on the back and a reinstatement to double-0 status here? Logically he should be under investigation if not arrest while it’s determined whether he’s turned like Silva. All anyone knows about what happened at Skyfall is what he tells them.


#33

That actually is true. But, hey, who believes that one man can survive that onslaught of bullets without getting hit?

Well, he doesn’t really kidnap her. She could have told him to stop the car and gotten out. But she wants him to take her where no other innocent is killed.

Bond´s idea is that at “Skyfall” there is no one else, only a load of guns. Why does he think that Silva comes alone? Or that having lots of guns at his disposal will enable him to, um, fire all at once at the incoming army of goons?

It sounds like desperation. It probably is over-self-confidence. And narratively, it´s just - you know - Bond is always making it up as he goes along. He’s not really a big planner. He just relies on getting it all figured out with a decent dose of good luck.

If M had not gotten that bullet wound Bond even would have been able to kill Silva and save the whole day. But, you know, dramatic irony and big tragedy needed to occur. So… in any event, the new boss at least has a name that begins with M. So he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.


#34

You‘ve discovered the imperative law of Bond‘s world there.

There is this story about Fleming and Godfrey in the middle of war supposedly gambling against Nazi agents at the Estoril casino. It’s been told many many times, each time more fantastic and exciting - and much of the bragging and blowing out of proportion was done by Fleming himself, also by not bothering to correct others who got it wrong.

Admiral Godfrey debunked the whole episode and gave a much more mundane account of the events. And yet it’s still cited in countless articles and books and a host of flamboyant and/or questionable characters jumped on that bandwagon and gave their own account of the night when Fleming played chemin-de-fer against the Nazis.

Why?

Well, according to Godfrey Fleming said to him: ‘What if those men had been German secret service agents, and suppose we had cleaned them out of their money; now that would have been exciting.’

This is the first law of nature of Bond’s world: things always must happen in an exciting manner. They never must be drab and mundane and ordinary.

This law is rooted in Bond’s very DNA from the go, the Secret Service doesn’t simply tip off the Russians to Le Chiffre’s embezzlement (they’d have taken care of him sure enough), Drax doesn’t simply store his bomb in Ebury Lane, Goldfinger’s Rolls isn’t taken apart at Dover, Blofeld doesn’t simply bribe an official to just hand him a passport with the title he already uses, Bond immediately spots and approaches a member of the Thunderball party, Scaramanga hires a perfect stranger he met in a brothel. And. So. On.

Logic in Bond’s world isn’t entirely suspended, no. But it has to bow to the ultimate imperative: things, events, motives must be suspenseful and exciting: More drama, baby.


#35

Beautifully stated my friend. Indeed, the logic of Bond is simply one thing: Escapism.

Bloody entertaining at that be it written or filmed.


#36

In SKYFALL, Sam Mendes was not as good at handling the Bond combination of fantasy and realism as Guy Hamilton and Lewis Gilbert were in their heyday (though he was much improved when he made SPECTRE). Hamilton and Gilbert knew how to construct a Bond film narrative so that plot holes became part of the poetry of their films.

In DAF do we wonder where Bond gets the white lab coat or suddenly goes up several underground levels to reach the moon buggy and escape at ground level? In GOLDFINGER, Bond will wait only 20 minutes for the next plane to take him and his car to Switzerland where he will continue to track Goldfinger. Hamilton handled these scenes with a panache that Mendes did not bring to SKYFALL (also the culture of “cinematic gotcha” had not come into existence at that time, so the audience was different).

SKYFALL also suffers from an overabundance of psychology (sorry Dustin and others). Deeper psychological motivation for characters and standard Bond logic plot holes are not a good mix. Both novels and films are much better at sociology than psychology. Fleming chronicled the end of the British Empire as much as Graham Greene did. The films–to varying degrees–present a mutable Bond who serves as a reflection/response/resistance to the cultural moment of production.


#37

It is debatable: is SKYFALL a Bond film - or a film with Bond?


#38

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#39

I would regard it as a Bond film. The franchise has survived because of its adaptability. With SKYFALL, they went the tortured hero route familiar from Marvel and DC films. Bond films take on the protective coloring of the moment and then proceed to supply derring-do and Bond winning at the end–with both the derring-do and the final triumph inflected by the protective coloring.

It is often said that in GOLDFINGER, Hamilton set the template for a James Bond film, and yet that template was immediately altered in subsequent movies–even by Hamilton himself. So SKYFALL is yet another improvisation on the basic notes of a James Bond film–this time with deeper psychology than in many of the films. Does it work? Not for me. The logic of the film switches back-and-forth from spy/Empire logic to Mother/son(s) conflict logic to propel the narrative, and neither do the two strand cohere enough nor does one take the uncontested lead with the other satisfied to be subtext. I think Mendes achieves a better mix with SPECTRE and also a higher quotient of panache.


#40

I think the reason why SKYFALL fails to resonate with some is that its core focus isn’t Bond. Bond is part of a triangle - as he often is when he’s approaching the villain via his girlfriend - but in SKYFALL he’s largely the passive part.

There is no character arc for Bond in SKYFALL (and just dropping off the radar and boozing with the guys in some beach dive doesn’t count). He learns about the faults of his mentor, learns about not being the sole star, about being expendable and being just one of a number…but none of it resonates with him. In SKYFALL Bond remains fundamentally unchanged - and also untouched. Which is a departure from CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE. There is a very brief moment when he seems to consider Silva’s fate and his own. But it’s never picked up afterwards; Bond has his decision already taken for him by the pace and direction of events.

That’s why I would argue, in spite of giving Bond the most screen time and for the most part following his actions, SKYFALL is at the root not a film about him. He just happens to be the pivotal figure around which the drama of the other two unfolds.

That’s not to say the entire old dog/new tricks element is ignored - it’s just largely inconsequential. Neither Bond nor the viewer is ever in doubt that 007 has still got it, regardless what tosh Mallory or Silva spout: Bond is still invincible and disposes of numerous goons-are-us baddies with the usual efficiency. So Bond’s status remains unchallenged even if he ultimately fails to protect M. All the talk about being too old and why not staying out is just that, talk. A thin layer of dressing to give Bond at least a pretext to look gloomy while the story happens to other characters.


#41

True and maybe preceding Bond movies conditioned audiences to expect such an arc (though there is none in GOLDFINGER or TMWTGG for example). Additionally, it may be that contemporary viewers are conditioned not just by previous Bond films, but by movies in general to expect character arcs.

It did resonate in Silva’s case and look what happened. Could the movie allow it to resonate with Bond?

For the needs of narrative also–to be Silva’s opposite, Bond can either embrace the knowledge as good or not react to it at all (and it is the Mother narrative strand that allows Bond to have motivation while allowing what he learns not to resonate).

But with or without a character arc, a James Bond film is still about James Bond. The problem is that once you start giving Bond a character arc, you steer into a dead end. The reboot allowed for a one-time arc–how Bond became Bond–but after that there is only SPECTRE–Bond walking away from what he was turned into. Previous Bond movies posited an arc-less James Bond who was the dutiful spy/assassin working for the British Empire–Bond does not have a character arc so much as each subsequent (movie) world he operates in does. The filmmakers’ job is to let Bond be Bond in successive/different worlds without losing audience sympathy/involvement. Viewers have to feel he is justified in being Bond and doing what he does whatever world he finds himself in.


#42

I wonder: has Bond ever gotten a so-called character arc?

I would argue that even CR is not really showing a development within the character. The “young” 00-rookie behaves as brash as the seasoned operative. He is infatuated with Vesper - and devastated afterwards. But only for a moment. Bond hiding his feelings (or submerging them) is part of his character, but does that really change at any point?

I would even go so far and say: Craig is not playing Bond as someone who changes. He plays him as someone who constantly shows coldness while letting the viewer know that something is brewing under that surface. But that’s all. Craig is great at that - but it became clear during his tenure that you can go only so far if you play Bond. Because Bond is not about changing or feeling too much. He is about staying the same. “I never stop to think about it” is one of the defining sentences not only in SPECTRE but for the character himself.

I actually would not want Bond to become psychologically more layered either. He would lose his allure.