November 15, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 30

50 years of James Bond’s enduring legacy

We all have our own ways of moving on from an election like we saw last week. My way? See a James Bond movie.

I’m not a diehard James Bond fan, but the latest movie, Skyfall, is by far one of the best in the franchise.

Over the last 50 years, 23 Bond films have entertained audiences and made millions of children wish they were secret agents. After all this time, the franchise has an entrenched legacy that has endured through the good, bad and slightly weird entries.

In order to remain relevant, the franchise has had to change with time. Many of us remember the gadgets supplied to Bond over the years, ranging from car ejector seats to exploding pens, from bowler hats to flamethrower bagpipes.

Though she’s a stalwart in her role and an integral part of the franchise now, Judy Dench’s casting as M was a monumental turn to keep the movie series going. I grew up watching Dench in her role, and marvel at how well she crafted a new depth to the character M, and that trend continues in Skyfall.

It seems that with each change of major character, whether it be M or Bond himself, the series sees a rebirth of sorts. In my opinion, that adds to its timeless value. Just like Sherlock Holmes, James Bond’s legacy has legs and can stretch far into the future.

Skyfall adds a new level of respect for previous entries in the series, no doubt influenced by its 50th anniversary. Much love is afforded to the theme of old relics, which is perfectly sprinkled throughout the movie.

Sure, Daniel Craig looks a bit, OK a lot, older compared to his previous two movies, but he’s grown into the character of James Bond far better than any of the other actors. Yes, beyond even the great Sean Connery. Craig’s version of Bond is vulnerable, dangerous and human all at once. The cheesy lines, impossible spy gadgets are gone, replaced by a real person.

Now, I’m not a big fan of the series, as I mentioned; that honor goes to Star Trek. But, like 2009’s Star Trek reboot, Skyfall pays homage to the past while holding its own as a modern movie. There is great love attached to the characters, events and the entire approach to the movie.

The reboot concept is turning into a trend in Hollywood, largely starting with Batman Begins in 2005. Since then we’ve seen the Die Hard, X-Men and Star Trek franchises all breathe some new life. And, while there have been some that failed, Bond is among the successful. Only time will tell if the upcoming Superman and Star Wars movies will continue that trend.

Like Craig’s version of Bond, there are imperfections in Skyfall. It runs a bit long and some parts aren’t as cohesive as they could be. But, it’s a story that grips you for two and a half hours, and doesn’t let go. Skyfall is possibly the best Bond movie in the 50 years of the franchise. And, looking 50 years ahead, it just goes to show that sometimes the old ways are best.

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