Before we go any further, I better say this: Spoiler alert. This post will discuss things that happened in “Skyfall,” so if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens in it, stop reading now.
There. We good now?
OK. So in the beginning of the movie, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is shot off the top of a moving train and he plunges hundreds of feet into a river below and he apparently dies. Later he comes back and resumes his James Bond duties, but his resurrection is never, well, explained.
My theory: James Bond really does die in the opening of the movie, and the rest of the movie — and every James Bond movie hereafter, until the character or the series is jumpstarted or rebooted — takes place in his head.
It’s a leap, sure. But either this is true or the movie is an incredibly sloppy work with a fatal, unforgivable flaw: Its lead character is KILLED in the opening scene and the fact that he magically comes back to life is conveniently glossed over. Sure, James Bond is pretty much a superhero at this point and can handily escape any sort of peril, but this coming-back-to-life bit seems like a stretch, and Sam Mendes is far too good of a filmmaker to let this go unexplained. The series has taken a more realistic turn in recent installments, and Bond’s actions now have real consequences: He hurts, he feels pain.
And in the opening of “Skyfall,” he clearly dies.
After being shot off the train, the movie goes into a striking title sequence, with Adele’s title track — opening line: “This is the end” — playing over a series of images that grimly depict death: Graves, cemeteries, etc. This is the darkest opening for a Bond film ever, and taken literally, it lays out the death of James Bond.
When we next see Bond, he’s living the Bond dream, bedding a beautiful woman in some island paradise. He’s enjoying his anonymity, partying with a bunch of rowdy drinkers, engaging in some sort of high risk tomfoolery, doing shots with a live scorpion on his hand. Finally free of being “James Bond,” he’s living the good life, but still taking the sort of daredevil risks he’s accustomed to. But since at his core he’s 007, eventually he’s drawn back to duty, carrying out risky missions when his agency is blown up by a terrorist. (The agency’s “new digs,” as they’re described, are now underground — you know, underground, where dead people are.)
When Bond first meets up with his boss M, she asks him where he’s been. “Enjoying death,” he deadpans. From there, Bond is shown struggling to regain his skill set, but eventually taking on a master hacker/terrorist named Silva, played by Javier Bardem. He’s a former agent who’s turned rogue, and he eventually chases down Bond at his childhood home, which is named Skyfall. I’m not a Bond expert, but I don’t remember Bond’s childhood being brought up before, and it makes sense that in death he’d revisit his boyhood home, which is now ravaged and in disrepair. The film’s final standoff finds that home being completely destroyed, as Bond comes to peace with the decisions he’s made in life. And since he’s no longer alive he can’t protect key figures in his life, which explains the death of one of the series’ major characters. (I’ve already gone into spoiler mode here, but I won’t reveal everything.)
Or something like that. Again, I’m just positing a theory here, and I don’t have all the answers. But it seems incredibly irresponsible that Bond’s coming back to life would never even attempt to be explained, not even with one throwaway line of dialogue, unless he didn’t come back to life after all. The audience assumes he did, but what if he didn’t?
Thoughts? Am I crazy here? Or does “Skyfall” represent the death of James Bond?