Skyfall's narrative leap

edited February 2013 in Skyfall Posts: 4,353
On Sam Mendes' director's commentary he talks about how he was worried that it may have been too large a narrative leap to have Bond take M up to Skyfall after the inquiry shoot-up.
I love the idea of Bond going to his old home to isolate the villain by taking him out of his comfort zone and therefore putting him at the mercy of Bond's 'old-school' brawn. However, it always seemed slightly odd for the film to jumpt o Scotland for the finale. Possibly as the film becomes less of a spy thriller and more of a western with the whole 'us'-verus-'them' feeling of the finale. Do we think that the leap in the story may have been too large?
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Comments

  • SandySandy Somewhere in Europe
    Posts: 4,012
    I don't think so because I personally felt it was well explained in the film. Bond took Silva to his "territory", where Silva can't use his usual tricks, where other people wouldn't be hurt. In a way yes, the end has a certain western feel to it, but it doesn't harm the overall spy-thriller mood of the end product.
  • RC7RC7
    edited February 2013 Posts: 10,512
    On Sam Mendes' director's commentary he talks about how he was worried that it may have been too large a narrative leap to have Bond take M up to Skyfall after the inquiry shoot-up.
    I love the idea of Bond going to his old home to isolate the villain by taking him out of his comfort zone and therefore putting him at the mercy of Bond's 'old-school' brawn. However, it always seemed slightly odd for the film to jumpt o Scotland for the finale. Possibly as the film becomes less of a spy thriller and more of a western with the whole 'us'-verus-'them' feeling of the finale. Do we think that the leap in the story may have been too large?

    It's understandable Mendes felt this way. It's a wild narrative leap. Most of us here have followed SF from pre-production through release. We were acutely aware of the intended ancestry angle, Skyfall lodge etc. For someone viewing it cold, there is the Skyfall reference during the psychology tests, and mention of unresolved childhood trauma, neither being close to mention or resolution for another 1hr30/1hr plus. The plot lilts from 'stolen drive' - McGuffin, to 'revenge' - Silva angle to ''resolution' - Bond and Skyfall. I can see why he was worried. It's effectively like 3 episodes, rather than one cohesive whole that blends all 3 elements seamlessly across the 2hr30.
  • Posts: 13,401
    @RC7-A bit like a trilogy in one movie?

    It may have been a leap, but I did not mind at all. Maybe because I thought it brought a nice change, to finally see Bond in his element, in Scotland, fighting an invader. i would have got really fed up had Silva kept the upper hand and be able to use his computer skills through the whole movie, I thought it needed a bit of ''retro tech''. There was a tactical reason for Bond to go up to Skyfall, as well as security reasons, as people mentioned above.

    And also, I love a good old western shootout.
  • I always found that the return to Skyfall was really a move for Bond to deal with the issue of his own mortality.

    The film itself seems to be about Bond dealing with his own mortality especially in a modern world. After all he dies in the opening and in the title sequences he 'see's his life flash before his eyes' with the crumbling wreck of Skyfall playing a prominent role. I think going back with M was Bond confronting his demons and finally going home and by blowing it up he can never go back.
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 10,512
    I always found that the return to Skyfall was really a move for Bond to deal with the issue of his own mortality.

    The film itself seems to be about Bond dealing with his own mortality especially in a modern world. After all he dies in the opening and in the title sequences he 'see's his life flash before his eyes' with the crumbling wreck of Skyfall playing a prominent role. I think going back with M was Bond confronting his demons and finally going home and by blowing it up he can never go back.

    The conversation isn't about what the scene entails, portrays, evokes etc it's about whether it's a narrative leap from the previous 1hr 45min of film. We're all well aware of the symbolism and intentions of the finale.
  • I figured Bond was going to Skyfall Lodge all along, it didn't bother me at all and when he and M got in the car to go there it made perfect sense. Bond gets Silva on his own turf and tactically he could see Silva coming no matter when and what direction he was coming in. I thought it all very well played right down to Silva's ending. A little transparent, sure, but not a great leap for me. No more than than a shuttle launch from the Amazon to a space station :-?
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 10,512
    I figured Bond was going to Skyfall Lodge all along, it didn't bother me at all and when he and M got in the car to go there it made perfect sense. Bond gets Silva on his own turf and tactically he could see Silva coming no matter when and what direction he was coming in. I thought it all very well played right down to Silva's ending. A little transparent, sure, but not a great leap for me. No more than than a shuttle launch from the Amazon to a space station :-?

    SF plays by different rules. Simultaneously knocking and using MR as a benchmark doesn't work for me. You could only 'figure' Bond was going to SF lodge with prior knowledge. Again, coming to it cold, you only know what Skyfall lodge is, when it appears for the first time. 30 mins before the end.
  • edited February 2013 Posts: 2,081
    It didn't feel like too big a narrative leap to me at all. It didn't feel odd and made perfect sense. And I loved it. I didn't know a damned thing about the movie beforehand (well, I knew who was directing and the cast, but nothing plot-wise or such, hadn't even seen trailers or heard the theme song), and had no idea what "Skyfall" was. And I still didn't feel there was a big narrative leap, it still all fit. I just don't see any problem there.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Tuulia wrote:
    It didn't feel like too big a narrative leap to me at all. It didn't feel odd and made perfect sense. And I loved it. I didn't know a damned thing about the movie beforehand (well, I knew who was directing and the cast, but nothing plot-wise or such, hadn't even seen trailers or heard the theme song), and had no idea what "Skyfall" was. And I still didn't feel there was a big narrative leap, it still all fit. I just don't see any problem there.

    Agreed - I really dont see what the point of this conversation is at all.

    If you come to the film cold what happens is:

    1. Bond 'kidnaps' M and says we need to get lie low and take Silva out of his comfort zone.

    2. They get in the DB5 and leave London.

    3. Tanner and Q plot the false trail and state (or at least its pretty cleary show on the map) that they are heading for Scotland.

    4. Bond and M survey the highlands and she says 'isnt this where you grew up?'

    5. They arrive at an old house called Skyfall and the gamekeeper recognises Bond.

    6. It is then revealed that this is Bonds childhood home.

    Wheres the 'leap' in all that? It seems pretty straightforward from where I stand.
  • edited February 2013 Posts: 3,494
    @RC7- Since you brought it up, Skyfall does indeed play by different rules. It's a terrific blend of both old and new as opposed to a Star Wars/Matt Helm ripoff. It definitely feels like a Bond film right down to the great sense of humor that was noticeably missing from the last effort, plus you can see aside from Bond having to regain his field "mojo" he was back in normal form, and despite my enjoyment of the two film diversion I felt for the first time since 1997 that this Bond was totally familiar again.

    I have a few issues with Skyfall but not with this aspect, it does so many things right in comparison to the last anniversary attempt. Oops, just knocked another one, bad me ;)



  • edited February 2013 Posts: 2,081
    Tuulia wrote:
    It didn't feel like too big a narrative leap to me at all. It didn't feel odd and made perfect sense. And I loved it. I didn't know a damned thing about the movie beforehand (well, I knew who was directing and the cast, but nothing plot-wise or such, hadn't even seen trailers or heard the theme song), and had no idea what "Skyfall" was. And I still didn't feel there was a big narrative leap, it still all fit. I just don't see any problem there.

    Agreed - I really dont see what the point of this conversation is at all.

    If you come to the film cold what happens is:

    1. Bond 'kidnaps' M and says we need to get lie low and take Silva out of his comfort zone.

    2. They get in the DB5 and leave London.

    3. Tanner and Q plot the false trail and state (or at least its pretty cleary show on the map) that they are heading for Scotland.

    4. Bond and M survey the highlands and she says 'isnt this where you grew up?'

    5. They arrive at an old house called Skyfall and the gamekeeper recognises Bond.

    6. It is then revealed that this is Bonds childhood home.

    Wheres the 'leap' in all that? It seems pretty straightforward from where I stand.

    Exactly. And I'd also like to add to your list this:

    When the word "Skyfall" came up in the word association test the reaction was wordless, but clearly readable from Bond's face as much as he was trying not to communicate what he thought or felt. It obviously hurt. Then when they drove through that gate, I just went "oh I see" in my head.

  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 10,512
    @RC7- Since you brought it up, Skyfall does indeed play by different rules. It's a terrific blend of both old and new as opposed to a Star Wars ripoff. It definitely feels like a Bond film right down to the great sense of humor that was noticeably missing from the last effort, plus you can see aside from Bond having to regain his field "mojo" he was back in normal form, and despite my enjoyment of the two film diversion I felt for the first time since 1997 that this Bond was totally familiar again.

    I have a few issues with Skyfall but not with this aspect, it does so many things right in comparison to the last anniversary attempt. Oops, just knocked another one, bad me ;)



    Don't get me wrong, I completely agree with your sentiments, particularly the 1997 reference. I just understand Mendes' conflict regards the transition at the end of the film. But I'm a film maker so maybe I see things differently.
  • edited February 2013 Posts: 11,425
    RC7 wrote:
    I always found that the return to Skyfall was really a move for Bond to deal with the issue of his own mortality.

    The film itself seems to be about Bond dealing with his own mortality especially in a modern world. After all he dies in the opening and in the title sequences he 'see's his life flash before his eyes' with the crumbling wreck of Skyfall playing a prominent role. I think going back with M was Bond confronting his demons and finally going home and by blowing it up he can never go back.

    The conversation isn't about what the scene entails, portrays, evokes etc it's about whether it's a narrative leap from the previous 1hr 45min of film. We're all well aware of the symbolism and intentions of the finale.

    Nail on the head RC7. I've been saying from the start that the plotting in SF is all over the place. Even generally positive reviews like Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian commented that it loses its way in the third act.

    It is amusing to see the SF supporters club disputing the fact that the trip to SF might have been too big a narrative leap even as the director himself acknowledges that he was worried about it.

    SF is a weakly plotted Purvis and Wade movie. It's a very disjointed flabby film with a few good scenes randomly scattered within it. More reminiscent of TWINE than the 60s classics.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Tuulia wrote:

    Then when they drove through that gate, I just went "oh I see" in my head.

    Well done you for being able to make the link. Seems it was a leap too far for some.

    And incidentally I'm not a member of 'the SF supporters club'. Its plot is a lot flimsier than many people would have you believe but I am still waiting for someone to explain to me what this narrative leap was. Maybe I'm just a thick peasant rather than a great filmmaker like Mendes.



  • edited February 2013 Posts: 11,425
    Suddenly we're transported to an entirely different era almost with zero technology. From chasing Silva round the tube with that annoying earpiece and constant nattering from Q and Silva's cyber terrorism it's all suddenly antique shot guns, not even a mobile phone and no sign of the local constabulary or fire brigade, let alone some military back up. Bond gets the Navy to airlift him out of the South China Sea but in that exotic foreign locale known as Scotland all he has is an irritating old bat and Finney doing a ridiculous Willie the groundsman impersonation to help out. Was any previous Bond quite so inept? The Kincade character feels so bolted on - Purvis and Wade throwhim in right at the end because that's the way they do film plots (i.e. badly and crudely). It feels like its a different film and that's because, some characters aside, it practically is. I don't mind a change in tone but the disjuncture between London and Skyfall is really clunky. May be 'narrative leap' is the wrong term, but it certainly feels like a different film at the end.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    edited February 2013 Posts: 9,117
    Getafix wrote:
    Suddenly we're transported to an entirely different era almost with zero technology. From chasing Silva round the tube with that annoying earpiece and constant nattering from Q and Silva's cyber terrorism it's all suddenly antique shot guns, not even a mobile phone and no sign of the local constabulary or fire brigade, let alone some military back up. Bond gets the Navy to airlift him out of the South China Sea but in that exotic foreign locale known as Scotland all he has is an irritating old bat and Finney doing a ridiculous Willie the groundsman impersonation to help out. Was any previous Bond quite so inept? The Kincade character feels so bolted on - Purvis and Wade throwhim in right at the end because that's the way they do film plots (i.e. badly and crudely). It feels like its a different film and that's because, some characters aside, it practically is. I don't mind a change in tone but the disjuncture between London and Skyfall is really clunky. May be 'narrative leap' is the wrong term, but it certainly feels like a different film at the end.

    Its a change of pace and tone, a change of gear if you like, but narratively it makes pefect sense.

    From a logical perspective it is a bit dubious however - why when they have the British government behind them would Bond and M isloate themselves in an old house and just leave it to blind chance that the two of them (and Kincaide) will have enough to take whatever Silva might throw at them?

    If he turned up with a slightly more tooled up helicopter and just blew the shit out of the house all three of them would be dead.
  • RC7RC7
    edited February 2013 Posts: 10,512
    Nah, sorry, I think it is a narrative leap. The whole plot thus far is about a discarded McGuffin, sidelined in favour of the real plot, which is Silva's beef with M. Then in the final 30 mins Bond's past, of which we've heard two lines throughout the entire film, becomes front and centre. It's the equivalent of a psychologist saying 'Big blue monster' - and then in the final third, shit! It's the big blue monster. Clunky, shoe-horned etc. It doesn't really bother me all that much but I can't sit here and pretend it couldn't have been better. It was a character arc that would have been better placed in a tv series where you have a slow build over several episodes. That's the problem with the new films, they've gone character heavy, but they want to shift the parameters with each film.
  • Posts: 2,081
    If he turned up with a slightly more tooled up helicopter and just blew the shit out of the house all three of them would be dead.

    He wouldn't have done that, though, would he? He wanted to do it personally and to be sure she was dead, too, and not just blow up a house. The matter was very personal, the killing needed to be as well.
  • Posts: 11,425
    Does logic not have a part to play in a coherent and convincing narrative though? Throughout the film I was always thinking - 'why is so and so doing that'?

    Why does M order an inexperienced agent to 'take that bloody shot' when her best agent is engaging the target? Why does Silva spend years plotting revenge only to storm a courtroom, riddle it with machinegun fire and then run off when someone sets off a fire extinguisher? And as you rightly say, why on earth does Bond drag M to SF and certain death? The fact any of them escape the house at all is utterly implausible.

    I'm not saying Bond movies have to have watertight plots, but the basic character motivations and behaviour have to be slightly convincing. I just thought it had Pruvis and Wade's writing right through it like a stick of rock.
  • Getafix wrote:
    Suddenly we're transported to an entirely different era almost with zero technology. From chasing Silva round the tube with that annoying earpiece and constant nattering from Q and Silva's cyber terrorism it's all suddenly antique shot guns, not even a mobile phone and no sign of the local constabulary or fire brigade, let alone some military back up. Bond gets the Navy to airlift him out of the South China Sea but in that exotic foreign locale known as Scotland all he has is an irritating old bat and Finney doing a ridiculous Willie the groundsman impersonation to help out. Was any previous Bond quite so inept? The Kincade character feels so bolted on - Purvis and Wade throwhim in right at the end because that's the way they do film plots (i.e. badly and crudely). It feels like its a different film and that's because, some characters aside, it practically is. I don't mind a change in tone but the disjuncture between London and Skyfall is really clunky. May be 'narrative leap' is the wrong term, but it certainly feels like a different film at the end.

    Its a change of pace and tone, a change of gear if you like, but narratively it makes pefect sense.

    From a logical perspective it is a bit dubious however - why when they have the British government behind them would Bond and M isloate themselves in an old house and just leave it to blind chance that the two of them (and Kincaide) will have enough to take whatever Silva might throw at them?

    If he turned up with a slightly more tooled up helicopter and just blew the shit out of the house all three of them would be dead.

    I agree that it was a change of gear, and in keeping with the film. A shift in tone doesn't mean a different film. Considering the groundwork laid for "sometimes the old ways are best" it seems a natural progression of the story.

  • Posts: 11,425
    Tuulia wrote:
    If he turned up with a slightly more tooled up helicopter and just blew the shit out of the house all three of them would be dead.

    He wouldn't have done that, though, would he? He wanted to do it personally and to be sure she was dead, too, and not just blow up a house. The matter was very personal, the killing needed to be as well.

    He blows the bloody house up with machine guns and grenades! You think he was expecting her to get out alive so he could have his final moment with her? None of it makes the slightest bit of sense.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    edited February 2013 Posts: 9,117
    Getafix wrote:
    Tuulia wrote:
    If he turned up with a slightly more tooled up helicopter and just blew the shit out of the house all three of them would be dead.

    He wouldn't have done that, though, would he? He wanted to do it personally and to be sure she was dead, too, and not just blow up a house. The matter was very personal, the killing needed to be as well.

    He blows the bloody house up with machine guns and grenades! You think he was expecting her to get out alive so he could have his final moment with her? None of it makes the slightest bit of sense.

    And much as I like the Tennyson stuff the whole courtroom shoot out makes little sense. Silvas whole plan is to humiliate M and discredit her but then he plans to assassinate her in public thereby making a martyr out of her and proving her point that there is a need for the double O section.
    And then when he arrives he makes a total shambles of killing her and having gone to the effort of storming the building he just abandons the whole thing due to a little bit of mist from the fire extinguishers?

    At the end of the day its a Bond film and youre mostly there for the ride. If you try and go too deep with character and plot you are going to come unstuck, particularly if its P&W doing the writing not Fleming.
  • Posts: 13,401
    Yes I think it would have made more sense for Silva to run havoc in London without showing up in the courtroom at all, and going after M only after she has been demoted and humiliated.

    That said, concerning the absence of back up in Scotland, wasn't the whole point about moving North was to trap Silva, force him out of hiding and have him keep away from civilians? Not so easy to set up a trap if you surround yourself with British troops.

    By the way, I am watching The 39 Steps at the moment (the 1978, and is it me or is the last act of Skyfall very inspired by it?
  • I don't think that Silva abandoning the building because of the "little bit of mist" from the fire extinguishers was poorly done at all. In addition to another example of using simple, low tech ways to defeat Silva (and "old ways are best" in general) look at it from his point of view:

    Where is M? Did she move? Where are the people who are firing at me? Do I walk into the room blind towards a target whose location I don't know, towards several people with guns trying to shoot me? Or do I retreat and regroup, taking solace in the fact that I've already teased MI6 by letting them think they captured me but showing them who is really in control, especially showing how vulnerable they are?

    Made pretty good sense to me and didn't seem outlandish.
  • Posts: 2,081
    ^^ Exactly.

    It obviously wasn't "a little bit of mist"... he might as well have been blindfolded.
  • Posts: 13,401
    I don't think that Silva abandoning the building because of the "little bit of mist" from the fire extinguishers was poorly done at all. In addition to another example of using simple, low tech ways to defeat Silva (and "old ways are best" in general) look at it from his point of view:

    Where is M? Did she move? Where are the people who are firing at me? Do I walk into the room blind towards a target whose location I don't know, towards several people with guns trying to shoot me? Or do I retreat and regroup, taking solace in the fact that I've already teased MI6 by letting them think they captured me but showing them who is really in control, especially showing how vulnerable they are?

    Made pretty good sense to me and didn't seem outlandish.

    The retreat was a wise move, if he wanted to get back at M I agree it was smarter to wait for a better moment. However, I always wonder why he went for her during the hearing.
  • Posts: 80
    Getafix wrote:
    Tuulia wrote:
    If he turned up with a slightly more tooled up helicopter and just blew the shit out of the house all three of them would be dead.

    He wouldn't have done that, though, would he? He wanted to do it personally and to be sure she was dead, too, and not just blow up a house. The matter was very personal, the killing needed to be as well.

    He blows the bloody house up with machine guns and grenades! You think he was expecting her to get out alive so he could have his final moment with her? None of it makes the slightest bit of sense.

    And much as I like the Tennyson stuff the whole courtroom shoot out makes little sense. Silvas whole plan is to humiliate M and discredit her but then he plans to assassinate her in public thereby making a martyr out of her and proving her point that there is a need for the double O section.
    And then when he arrives he makes a total shambles of killing her and having gone to the effort of storming the building he just abandons the whole thing due to a little bit of mist from the fire extinguishers?

    At the end of the day its a Bond film and youre mostly there for the ride. If you try and go too deep with character and plot you are going to come unstuck, particularly if its P&W doing the writing not Fleming.

    All endeavours have an element of risk, by using your internal logic to make sense of Silva’s actions, whilst watching events unfold, you’re also making assumptions about someone who is a bit deranged. Even predictive texting doesn’t always get it right and, Mallory & Bond were part of the variant which made Silva’s plan go awry.

    A recent robbery was on the news where a man tried to rob the bookmakers but what he didn’t expect was that the punters would tackle him, he would then collapse, have a heart attack and die.

    The history of Bond films and villains lends itself to eccentricities so why should Silva in Skyfall be any different. E.g. Bonds big plan whilst in captivity and scuppering Goldfinger’s scheme was to use his magic wand on Pussy Galore yeah right.
  • Posts: 2,081
    ^^ Excellent points, @hisqos.

    :)) at your comment about Bond's "big plan"in GF... That whole Bond-PG "relationship" was one of the stupidest things in Bond films ever, and as a woman I found it disgusting as well.
  • Posts: 13,401
    Tuulia wrote:
    ^^ Excellent points, @hisqos.

    :)) at your comment about Bond's "big plan"in GF... That whole Bond-PG "relationship" was one of the stupidest things in Bond films ever, and as a woman I found it disgusting as well.

    Off topic, but I don't think it was stupid. Bond had been working on her, so to speak, since they had met, he also had appealed to her sense of moral, stressing how Goldfinger was not merely a criminal but a murderous madman about to commit a large scale massacre.

    Now about Silva, I think like many Bond villains, as Hisqos mentioned, he suffered from hubris, because he had the upper hand most of the time he became overconfident. Bond had to take him out of his comfort zone, away from computers, high tech environment, etc to beat him.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,588
    To me, the narrative leap was that they actually delved into Bond's past, if fleetingly, really for the first time since LTK. Bond is nothing if not introspective.
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