Bond turns 50 this year. Clearly he’s looking good for it.
Amid the celebrations for the film franchise’s half century — from two exhibitions and a new Blu-ray box set, to commemorative poker chips and countless other merchandise — the major excitement is being generated by the new film, once referred to as Bond 23, but now better known as Skyfall. And, last week, ShortList had a look around the set.
Despite touring the studio, interviewing the cast and watching a scene being filmed, plot details were somehow still guarded with MI6-level vigilance. Better in many ways — what’s so secret about swanning around in an Aston Martin, audaciously waltzing into the world’s casinos and using your real name? In fact, Bond could learn a lot from Javier Bardem’s tight-lipped style. Bardem plays Silva — the villain. We do know the story centres around MI6 coming under attack and, at this point, it’s safe to assume Silva is the man behind it. Specifically, the target is M (Judi Dench), whose past — somehow — comes back to haunt her. This propels 007 on a mission that takes in an abandoned Japanese city, Macau, Turkey, the Scottish Highlands and the tunnels of the London Underground.
The latter was the setting of the scene we saw being filmed — a chase through Temple station culminating in an explosion and a train derailment. A bold decision given the events of 2005? Perhaps, but Daniel Craig is keen to stress that they’re “sensitive to that. We’re being very careful about it.”
The mood at Pinewood Studios (they’re about to finish filming there before heading to Turkey) is universally positive. Producer Barbara Broccoli, who’s worked on every Bond film since 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me in some capacity, is even confident enough to say: “It’s extraordinary. We’re making the best Bond ever.”
They’re big words, but one of the reasons she gives for being so positive is her Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes. And Craig agrees: “He has a passion for Bond — he’s a huge, huge Bond fan. One of his fortes is getting the best out of actors, but he also knows the material he’s working with and isn’t shying away from making it funny, while still bringing the excitement. He’s a control freak, like the best directors are. We have the best people in the business doing the action, and he’s a part of that. He’s absolutely meticulous.”
Add to this a phenomenal cast that, in addition to those mentioned, includes Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw as Q and three Bond girls: Naomie Harris (Calypso in Pirates Of The Caribbean) as an MI6 field agent, French model Bérénice Marlohe and Greek actress Tonia Sotiropoulou.
So, there are reasons to be confident that Skyfall can be all that we’re promised. And, as we leave, Craig lets slip a little extra plot detail concerning the past that comes back to haunt M: “She was a stripper in Morocco. A good one, too.”
Skyfall is at cinemas nationwide from 26 October