Skyfall Teaser, A Dissection
The new James Bond teaser has finally come out and like a fine wine I let it sit a little before enjoying it. The purpose of this post is to take a closer look at the video and see what we can glean from it.
The trailer opens as 007 is standing atop a wind swept roof overlooking London. This is his city and London will soon serve as the nexus for some major events in the coming months none more significant than the 2012 Olympics. The words "country" answered by "England" are intoned in the background. Bond is undergoing a debrief of sorts involving a word association game from an interrogator. As the interrogator suggests words, the scenes switch so the viewing audience can make their own associations as to the mindset of Bond and the events he has recently become embroiled in.
As Bond goes for a run with what I originally thought was the Trafalgar Square memorial in the background (its the Telecom Tower) we hear the words "gun" and "shot". We next view Bond in full silhouette, he seems to be tending to himself and the words "Agent" and "Provocateur" lead us to the next clip that shows a firing range target. "Murder" is followed by the word "Employment" which leads to the interrogator's last association which is "Skyfall". Bond hesitates, Skyfall is repeated and Bond responds, "Done"
That not so private tete-a-tete is quite revealing. Bond confirms his dedication to Queen and country with the first association. Was there any question? Possibly, the movie will answer that. When Bond answers "shot" to the word "gun" I think he is referring to a wound he suffered in the line of duty not just the reflexive answer to what a gun does. I say this because the next scene shows him tending to himself and when we see the firing range target it is revealed that his aim is off as there is two glaring misses.
I like how Bond answers "Provocateur" to the word "agent". It shows that he is not just a simple government paid automaton. He sees his job as one that sows dissent, stirs things up and deliberately agitates. More "hilarity" ensues as 007 answers "Employment" to the word murder. This is probably meant to intimidate those who are watching him behind the glass and it testifies to his cold, callous nature. It's also to show there is no question in Bond's mind as to the true character of his profession.
We finally get to the film title and the last word, "Skyfall". Bond hesitates when presented with the word. We get a quick cut to a room Bond is exploring. A figure is slumped in a chair. "Done", snaps Bond when offered Skyfall a second time. Was the mission a failure? Does Skyfall happen off screen and before the time line of the movie? It seems so. The producers have hinted the main thrust of the story deals with a dark secret to M's past. Perhaps she bet heavily on the success of Skyfall or maybe even meant Skyfall to clean up the mess that was made. Either way things did not seem to go well.
We also get a cut of Ralph Fiennes mysterious character, Gareth Mallory. (Mysterious in that his role in the movie is undefined.) When Bond hesitates, Mallory shoots a look at M. He seems to want to gauge the reaction of M to this hesitation. Quite possibly he knows of the stakes as they pertain to M. One might also hazard a guess that the stakes involve him also and he stands to benefit from M's possible failure. Perhaps as her replacement?
We then get the standard Hollywood quick cuts as the teaser unwinds. Everyone does it and it is getting a little tired.
Except in this case.
Staccato blasts of music follow the quick cuts. The Shanghai skyline looms in front of us. Berenice Marlohe's character, Severine, looks fetchingly unattainable from a nearby building. Bond fires off two quick (and casual) shots also to the music (I bet he doesn't miss there.) M stands behind a row of Union Jack draped coffins. The aftermath of her failed endeavor and the sad postscript to Skyfall?
We sail along the Shanghai waterfront with Bond dressed to kill. The action must get furious from there as Bond endures a close shave from Naomi Harris', Eve. (Careful of that forbidden fruit James.) We return to the streets of London and Bond is running against the stream of traffic suggesting all is not well. To punctuate that point, Bond is plummeted into what looks to be an icy bath. Further action ensues as he dodges gunfire, a helicopter appears (was it loaded with the occupants of those flag draped coffins?) Bond slips through a torrent of weapons fire and then a figure is dropped down a shaft (back to Shanghai?) Methinks Bond's Shanghai pursuer falling victim to his prey.
Bond and M next share a quiet moment staring off into a craggy vista. I think this is a prelude of what is to come. We get a quick glimpse of a subway car crashing through a ceiling that reportedly takes place at Charing Cross station. By all accounts it should be a stunning special effect. Bond steps into the light that is meant for his eyes only and we get a darkened figure approaching a blazing inferno.
One of the filming locations was in Glencoe, Highland which belongs in Scotland. Our darkened figure near the end has something to do with the action there as he seems to have set fire to one of its castles. The craggy vista that M and Bond overlook is possibly a prelude to that action and I'm think that figure is Javier Bardem's "Silva" who is billed as the main villain of the flick. No doubt Silva has torched the best laid plans of Bond and M.
The staccato blasts of music are replaced with even quicker action shots and Bond themed action music. Bond intones that "some men are coming to kill us, we're going to kill them first" which is eerily reminiscent of Tyrion Lannister's speech from the Blackwater episode of Game of Thrones when he proclaims, (to paraphrase) "those are brave men out there trying to kill us, let's go murder them!" The actions takes us back to Shanghai, through London, it includes the soon to be famous motorcycle stunt from Istanbul and if you look closely we first get Bond clean shaven and then quite grizzly and rough. Which is the before and which is the after?
I'm not sure but somewhere along the line I'm guessing Bond goes off the reservation a bit. He's either acting on his own with the grizzled look or at the behest of a threatened M. Or both.
Either way this is a great teaser trailer and it gives us a taste of Sam Mendes' visual style ably abetted by cinematographer, Roger Deakins. I was a little worried about Mendes handling of the film but I am encouraged now. Deakins has given us True Grit, No Country for Old Men and The Shawshank Redemption so there are no worries there.
I'm looking forward to the full length trailer and hopefully it won't give too much away like the recent Prometheus trailer did. Just a little more guns, girls and a dash "Q" humor to top it off. Yes, that would do nicely.