Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Skyfall and the Trend in Spy Movies: Which Way Will They Go?

Skyfall is now a billion-dollar hit, and in all likelihood just a few days away from being the highest-grossing Bond film of all time in inflation-adjusted terms.

When a movie makes this kind of money, trend-chasing Hollywood studios invariably follow its lead. This has not only been the case with movies like the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings trilogies, but even the oft-maligned Transformers movies, which implausibly inspired a wave of movies based on toys from the '80s (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Battleship).

Yet, it is far from clear what exactly studios would attempt to capitalize on, given the different ways in which the film is being read. Some see Skyfall as having completed the reboot's dispensing with everything that made the Bond movies distinctive (like historians Tim Stanley and Andrew Ross), while others see it as completing the (re)creation of the character as audiences have known him since the 1960s. (More than any piece I have read in the press, I recommend Freivolk's comment here as a concise encapsulation of this argument.)

If it is the first impression one walks away with, then the film simply seems a continuation of the trend begun with The Bourne Identity a decade ago toward grounded espionage adventure revolving around backstabbing bureaucrats. The second suggests new life in the idea of the Bond-style spy, something Hollywood has treated as fit only for broad parody the last decade, less True Lies or XXX (which combined parody with action) than Get Smart or Cars 2 (which played the concept purely for laughs).

The voices which claim continuity rather than change seem to me the more numerous, but somehow I'm having a hard time picturing a new crop of gadget-packing ladies' men making their way to the big screen anytime soon.

Weekend Box Office: The First Weekend of 2013
2012 Round-Up, Part I: The Best of Raritania
My Posts on Spy Fiction
My Posts on James Bond

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for mentioning my comment. I just wish I had written him in better english.


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