By Mark HadleyMonday 12 Nov 2012
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise (so long as you ignore one telemovie made in 1954), and the release of Skyfall in a couple of weeks has would-be secret agents suiting up for the cinemas.
There’s not a single movie franchise that can compare to the longevity of the Bond canon. On November 22 Daniel Craig returns as the seventh incarnation of the British super-spy.
Skyfall breaks with the storyline introduced in Craig’s first two outings where MI6 came to grips with the nefarious criminal syndicate Quantum. Producer Barbara Broccoli says the franchise has shelved, not eliminated the organisation, but James will go on to face different challenges.
Skyfall is all new Bond – James gets a new gun, a new girl and a new enemy – but with all the classic touches. 007 is called on to redeem his legendary controller M, played by Judi Dench for the seventh time. Bond was presumed dead after the loss of a drive containing the identity of every agent embedded in terrorist organizations across the globe. With MI6 in tatters, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee comes gunning for M. However Bond makes a miraculous resurrection to secure her reputation. But how far is James prepared to go to save a friend?
This will be the 23rd time 007 barrel-rolls on to the big screen, gun in hand, so it’s worth considering what lessons the franchise has delivered to generations of Australian men. When it comes to life, Bond has always stood by the following Ten Commandments.
1. Thou Shalt Have Only the Best
Whether it be an Omega watch, Dom Perignon or an Aston-Martin sports car, money is the only reasonable barrier to self-indulgence. If you have the means then James is all for rewarding yourself, and treating those luxuries as casually as possible.
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2. Thou Shalt Not Take Technology in Vain
Every Bond film gives rise to new gadgets from rocket-cigarettes to fake nipples and – surprise! – the perfect opportunities to put them into action. When human assets fail, science will provide the solution.
3. Thou Shalt Relish the Thrill
Drive like a madman, drink like a sailor, sleep around like there was no such thing as an STD. Wherever James lands, however remote, there will always be a beauty in a bikini close by and people, like things, were put on this earth to provide pleasure – otherwise why would parents name their children Pussy Galore?
4. Thou Shalt Not Take ‘No’ for an Answer
Trust your own judgement when you face opposition. If you’re commander says stop, forge ahead. The same goes for if you’re convinced a femme fatal is attracted to you, regardless of how much she resists.
5. Thou Shalt Not Kill – Without a One-Liner
After dumping a villain in piranhas, it’s not beneath Bond to quip, “Bon Appétit!” James doesn’t spend much time worrying about death, particularly someone else’s.
6. Thou Shalt Not Suffer
So far 007 has lost one best friend and the only two women he’s ever fallen in love with, including his wife. Getting close to James is a dangerous affair. Any trauma Bond suffers, though, is purely temporary. All it takes is a new beauty to get over your grief.
7. Thou Shalt Not Look Back
A follow-on from number 6, never let the contradictions of your life get in the way. James has never shown the slightest concern over the sudden disappearance of any number of bad guys or their evil organisations including SPECTRE, SMERSH and now QUANTUM.
8. Thou Shalt Not Worry About Stealing
One the producers have contributed. When Star Wars was big James headed for outer space in Moonraker. Disco fever led to For Your Eyes Only. And when Jason Bourne arrived, it was time for Bond to get brooding and brutal. It doesn’t matter where it comes from if it’s good.
9. Thou Shalt Have No Other God But Success
James Bond is the hero of the positive thinker and the pragmatist. He can be ordered home, arrested by his government and disavowed for his actions, and still press on without apology – because nothing is rewarded like success.
10. Honour Thy Lord and Master That Your Days May be Long in the Service
Bond may be self-indulgent and wilful, but he’s a servant at heart. Loyalty at all costs is his maxim, and this makes him an enduring icon. It doesn’t matter if you’re the date he’s just met, or the head of MI6, once he makes a commitment 007 will devotes his life and death to fulfilling it.
“If there’s one philosophy 007 holds above all others it’s ‘Judge not – lest you be judged.’ But there’s nothing Christian about this, only self-preservation.”
It’s this tenth commandment that acts as the moral compass in Skyfall. In attempting to get to the heart of the espionage that threatens MI6’s future, Bond discovers M’s dark secrets could be as damaging as his data loss. Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) plays the new villain Raoul Silva, who tells James that he and 007 are both products of “… what she made us.” But James will still take him down, no doubt.
It’s not just a case of loyalty. M’s shady past is only equalled by his own and if there’s one philosophy 007 holds above all others it’s ‘Judge not – lest you be judged.’ But there’s nothing Christian about this, only self-preservation. So long as he doesn’t point the finger, no one can question his own shortcomings.
‘Skyfall’ opens in cinemas November 22nd.