Bright Lights Film Journal

“Old Dog, New Tricks”: Resurrecting James Bond in Skyfall

Bond has long served as a cipher for the British nation; therefore his personal struggle also exposes cultural anxiety about Britain’s waning global influence and increasing vulnerability in the twenty-first century. Skyfall responds to this crisis, however, by staging the spectacular resurrection of Bond.

Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012) marks the fiftieth anniversary of the James Bond film series. The twenty-third film in the official Eon Productions series, it is also the third film starring Daniel Craig as Bond. The first, Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006), rebooted the series by taking us back to the very beginning of Bond’s career. No longer the supremely confident and experienced agent, the suave, sophisticated masculine icon of the Connery and Moore eras, Bond was reconfigured as fallible, vulnerable and psychologically unstable, a man new to the job and struggling to secure his identity as 007. In Skyfall, Craig’s Bond is older, and the crisis shifts to the feared obsolescence of this aging masculine icon. Still haunted by an unresolved childhood trauma and subject to the authority of a powerful woman – Judi Dench’s M – Bond now grapples with the fear that he is too old and old-fashioned to cope with the threat posed to Britain by twenty-first-century cyber-terrorists. Bond has long served as a cipher for the British nation; therefore his personal struggle also exposes cultural anxiety about Britain’s waning global influence and increasing vulnerability in the twenty-first century. Skyfall responds to this crisis, however, by staging the spectacular resurrection of Bond. Projecting the fear of masculine obsolescence onto M – the powerful woman who threatens patriarchal authority – then excising her from the masculine space of the Bond world, the film also disavows anxiety about the threatening technological future by re-aligning the threat with the past. Depicting Bond as an “old dog [with] new tricks,” Skyfall emphatically reasserts Bond’s continued status as masculine icon, and the ongoing power and influence of the nation he serves.

Fear of obsolescence

Title frame for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Fear of obsolescence is not unique to Skyfall; the Bond series as a whole – both novels and films – is marked by anxiety about Britain’s waning power and influence on the global stage. Tony Bennett and Janet Woollacott observe that the novels “positively bristle with allusions … to Britain’s declining power and status” (Beyond 110). The 1950s – when Ian Fleming was writing – was an era of profound change in Britain. Formerly a formidable Imperial power, World War II had left Britain physically, psychologically and economically exhausted. The United States and Soviet Union had emerged as the new world superpowers, while Britain faced a series of crises, including the 1956 Suez Crisis that “revealed the limitations of British strength and encouraged a new attitude toward empire that was to lead to rapid decolonization” (Black 4). Facing severe economic hardship, Britain made significant cuts to its defence spending, increasing its perceived dependence on its US ally. In an effort to reclaim some influence on the global stage, Britain sought in 1961 to join the European Economic Community but was twice vetoed by French President Charles DeGaulle, only finally being accepted as a member in 1973 (Lanigan and Cannon). Despite James Chapman’s observation that not all of the Bond films “allude to Britain’s decline” (“Licence” 114), several do foreground this theme. As Chapman himself acknowledges, the title sequence of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Peter R. Hunt, 1969) features “a Union Jack which is squeezed through an hourglass … suggest[ing] that time is running out for Britain” (Licence 116), while The Man with the Golden Gun (Guy Hamilton, 1974) features the symbolic wreckage of the liner Queen Elizabeth (146).

Bond in Raoul Silva’s techno-lair

In both novels and films, the perceived assault on British power, ideologies and institutions has manifested as the literal assault on iconic British sites. In the novel Moonraker (1955), for instance, “a rocket armed with a nuclear warhead” is aimed near Buckingham Palace, “the ideological heart of the nation” (Bennett and Woollacott Beyond 102). In the films The World Is Not Enough (Michael Apted, 1999) and Skyfall, the headquarters of MI6 itself comes under attack. In Skyfall the attack is instigated by Raoul Silva, a disgruntled ex-MI6 agent turned cyber-terrorist who hacks into MI6’s environmental control system, locks down the safety protocols and turns on the gas, causing an explosion that destroys M’s office and kills several operatives. Fear of cyber-terrorism has been a recurring theme in the Bond series since the mid-1990s. Writing about the Pierce Brosnan films, Martin Willis observes that, “Technologies of communication and information become the new weapons in millennial warfare” (179). Silva wields these weapons to great effect; as he explains to Bond, with a few keystrokes he can strike anywhere in the world: destabilising a multinational corporation by manipulating stock, interrupting transmissions from a spy satellite, rigging an election to the highest bidder, or causing an explosion at MI6 headquarters. MI6 is supposed to be the most secure facility in Britain so the attack exposes to a shocking degree the extent of Britain’s vulnerability to the technologically-savvy terrorist.

Skyfall also exposes the comparative limitations of British communication and information technologies. In the opening scene, Bond pursues Patrice, who is in Silva’s employ, through the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. Patrice has just stolen the hard drive containing the real identities of numerous NATO agents working undercover in terrorist organisations around the world. MI6 attempts to track the pursuit from London, but the capacities of the British tracking systems are limited and M frets, “We’re blind here!” MI6 are again blind after the attack on their own headquarters because they lack the technology needed to trace Silva’s hack to its source. This failure brings MI6 under the intense scrutiny of both the British government and opposition who, M bitterly observes, have “taken the position we’re a bunch of antiquated bloody idiots fighting a war we don’t understand and can’t possibly win.”

Throughout the Bond series, anxieties about Britain’s vulnerability and potential obsolescence have played out on the body of Bond, “a thinly-veiled cipher for the British Empire” (Hoa 1). The threat to Britain has manifested as a physical threat to the masculinity of this ultimate British male icon, made explicit in scenes of near-castration in Goldfinger (Guy Hamilton, 1964) and Casino Royale. Thus when Bond inevitably overcomes the enemy who threatens his body, he also shores up Britain’s power and global status, “construct[ing] an imaginary world in which the Pax Britannica still operates” (Chapman Licence 34). In Skyfall, Bond’s body is again under threat, but this time the threat is compounded by anxiety that this aging Bond (and, by extension, Britain) no longer has the physical ability or technological aptitude to overcome his enemy. Early in the film, Bond is accidentally shot by another British agent. Presumed dead, he returns to London after he hears of the attack on MI6, but his resurrection is severely undermined by his physical vulnerability and psychological disillusionment. Feeling betrayed by M, who ordered the shot at Patrice that hit Bond instead, Bond bitterly suggests that he and M have both played the game too long: “So this is it. We’re both played out.” Heightening the “sense of a mid-life crisis” (Grech 39), this Bond sports a greying beard and eyes reddened by alcohol abuse. In order to reclaim his identity as 007, he must pass a series of physical and psychological tests. However, the shot to his shoulder has robbed him of his heroic strength and famed marksmanship. He slumps to the ground in exhaustion after a series of sit-ups and chin-ups, his hand shakes when he points his gun at the target, and the bullets go wide of the mark. M ignores Bond’s test scores and passes him for duty, but when Silva later holds Bond captive, he reveals Bond’s actual results: “Medical examination: fail. Physical examination: fail. Psychological examination: alcohol and substance abuse indicated. Pathological rejection of authority based on unresolved childhood traumas.” These childhood traumas stemmed from the deaths of Bond’s parents in an accident that left him orphaned. M admits that “orphans always make the best recruits,” presumably because they are desperate to fill the void left by lost familial ties with a single-minded love for and determination to protect Britain, the mother country. However this trauma has also left Bond insecure and emotionally detached, distrustful of authority figures and close personal connections. His responses to the psychologist’s prompts in the word association test are telling: heart – “target”; M – “bitch”; country – “England”; Skyfall – “done.” Unwilling to face the trauma connected with Skyfall, his childhood home, Bond’s crisis of identity is further exacerbated when Silva confronts him with the possibility that his brand of muscular masculinity and the nation he serves are now obsolete in the new technological age: “All the physical stuff – so dull, so dull. Chasing spies – so old fashioned. Your knees must be killing you. England, the Empire, MI6. Pfft. You’re living in a ruin as well, you just don’t know it yet.”

The problem of powerful women

Judi Dench as M

Skyfall blames women in positions of authority, such as M, for contributing to the ruin of the nation and the men who work to protect and serve her. James Chapman compares M, played by Judi Dench, to Stella Rimington, who served as Director-General of MI5 from 1992 to ’96 (Licence 220); however, parallels can also be drawn between M and the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher has been labeled “the most unpopular prime minister on record” (“Margaret Thatcher”) for her extensive cuts to government spending and industrial subsidies that contributed to the closure of many businesses and a sharp rise in unemployment. Anti-Thatcher sentiment was particularly rife in the north of England, where Thatcher was blamed for devastating mining communities following her defeat of the National Union of Mineworkers in the 1984-85 strike (“Margaret Thatcher”). Almost thirty years later, hundreds turned out to celebrate Thatcher’s death on 8 April 2013, commemorating her passing with the Wizard of Oz song “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead.” Although M is not subjected to the same level of virulent anger, Skyfall does critique her apparent willingness to sacrifice the men who labour for the good of the nation. In the opening scene of Skyfall, M prioritises recovery of the stolen hard drive over the life of a wounded agent when she orders Bond to leave him to bleed to death. A short time later, M orders her female agent to shoot at Patrice, even though she risks hitting Bond. Through his earpiece Bond hears M repeat the order three times – “Take the bloody shot!” and as he is hit and falls hundreds of metres to the river below, it is with the realisation that M did not trust him to get the job done. Rather than treating him as the ultimate masculine icon, crucial to Britain’s security, M undermines his sense of worth by treating him as a tool, valued but ultimately disposable and replaceable.

Skyfall, however, casts doubt on M’s capacity to make such judgements. M is a bureaucrat, an accountant with no direct experience of what her agents face in the field; in Goldeneye (Martin Campbell, 1995) her male subordinates labeled her “the evil queen of numbers.” In that film, her reliance on statistical analysis instead of her agents’ instincts was presented as a flaw: M mistakenly disregarded the threat posed by the Goldeneye weapon system because her analysis indicated that the Russians did not have the finances or technology to implement it. In Skyfall, the return of Silva forces M to acknowledge the harm that her decisions have inflicted on her male operatives. Silva was one of those operatives, and, as she did to Bond, M treated him as a disposable tool, handing him over to the Chinese in Hong Kong when she realised they were about to catch him hacking their systems. M’s decision was underpinned by her ability to see the bigger picture in relation to British security, and she got six British agents back in exchange for Silva. However, her bureaucratic decision had far-reaching consequences that she, distanced from the field and her agents, could not foresee. Echoing Bond’s sense of betrayal, Silva demands M think on her sins as he shows her his face ruined by the cyanide capsule he swallowed after five months’ questioning under torture. After Silva attacks the parliamentary hearing into MI6’s recent failures, M admits, “Too many people are dying because of me.” The British government agrees; after the hard drive is stolen, they offer M honourable retirement, but their message is clear: M is getting too old and making too many mistakes to run MI6 effectively. By emphasising M’s limitations, Skyfall projects the fear of masculine obsolescence onto the female figure of authority, establishing the groundwork for Bond’s spectacular resurrection. Furthermore, the focus on M’s history with Silva defuses the anxiety about Britain’s uncertain place in a technological future by instead identifying the threat with the past and giving the faceless terrorist threat a face, a name, and a personal motivation.

The death of M

The film concludes with the expected death of Silva, the Bond villain, but in order for Bond to complete his resurrection, M also has to die, the first time M has ever been killed off in the Bond series. Discussing the death of Bond’s lover Vesper Lynd in the first Daniel Craig film, Casino Royale, Estella Tincknell argues that it had a “symbolic centrality to Bond’s own rebirth” (111). In order to secure his identity as 007, Bond had to be freed from the emotional ties that he had been prepared to put before anything, including the service of his country. M’s death in Skyfall frees Bond from his remaining emotional ties to a woman (he views M as a surrogate mother) and also removes the threat that female authority poses to the ultra-masculine subject. In all of the novels and the first sixteen films M was male. Judi Dench assumed the role in Goldeneye and immediately voiced her critique of Bond’s outdated masculinity, labeling him “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur” (qtd in Chapman Licence 220). The Bond series has consistently linked the re-establishment of British fortunes with the re-assertion of masculine superiority over women who appear to challenge patriarchal authority. As Bennett puts it, “placing women back in position beneath men and putting England back on top” (qtd Denning 64). Bond had traditionally dealt with “out-of-place” women (Bennett & Woollacott Beyond 115) by literally placing them back in position beneath him in numerous sexual clinches. Those women whom he cannot conquer sexually are usually killed off, though the responsibility for violence against women has generally been shifted onto the villain (Bennett & Woollacott “Moments” 30; Funnell 202-3). This pattern is repeated in Skyfall when M is shot by one of Silva’s henchmen and subsequently bleeds to death.

Skyfall is able to resolve the problem of female authority in this way because, by the end of the film, M has fulfilled her narrative function and is therefore considered obsolete. Throughout Skyfall and the previous two films M’s most crucial role has been as Bond’s surrogate mother and teacher. Not only does she critique his failings, in particular the ego that makes him reckless, arrogant and cold-hearted, but she also teaches him to exercise self-restraint and judgement and to trust in his abilities as a secret service agent. For instance, when Bond, early in Skyfall, voices his concern that he’s finished as an agent, M disregards his woeful test scores and expresses her belief in him by reinstating his double-0 rating. On the one hand, M needs Bond to successfully reclaim his 007 identity in order to assuage her guilt for her own contribution to his physical and psychological crisis. On the other hand, the episode recalls a similar situation in Quantum of Solace (Marc Forster, 2008) when M trusted and supported Bond to complete his mission, despite the fact that he had repeatedly ignored her orders and that both the British and US governments, believing he had gone rogue, were calling for him to be brought in or terminated. In Skyfall M ensures that Mallory, her eventual successor, will also trust and support Bond. M teaches Mallory that, far from being obsolete, MI6 and agents like Bond are even more relevant in the early twenty-first century when Britain faces enemies such as Silva, individuals who can no longer be identified by a uniform or national flag. Facing the parliamentary hearing, M asserts the ongoing relevance and capability of MI6’s agents by quoting the final lines of Tennyson’s “Ulysses” (1833): “We are not now that strength which in old days / Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; / One equal temper of heroic hearts, / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” (45). In Tennyson’s poem an aging Ulysses, fearing obsolescence, expresses his discontent with the idle life of governing his people and plans to reignite the glory of his youth by resuming his adventures. M’s recitation is intercut with a vision of Bond running toward Westminster where Silva is about to launch a violent attack on the parliamentary hearing. Lacking any of the irony that some critics have attributed to Tennyson’s poem, the scene drives home the film’s central message that although he has aged, Bond remains strong in both will and body and will never yield in his mission to protect Britain. Reading Bond as cipher, the scene also asserts that Britain as a nation will never yield. Tennyson, England’s poet laureate from 1851 until his death in 1892 (Jump ix), embodies the Victorian age; by quoting from his poem, M recalls the glorious days of British Empire to insist that Britain remains strong and viable in the twenty-first century.

Yet once M has fulfilled her narrative function, she is killed off and replaced by a man who possesses the qualities that the film suggests she lacked. Unlike his predecessor, Mallory is much more than a bureaucrat; previously a Lieutenant-Colonel in a Northern Ireland regiment, he spent two months in the hands of the I.R.A. He therefore has first-hand experience of what his agents face in the field. The difference between M and Mallory is most evident during Silva’s attack on the parliamentary hearing. While M stares helplessly at Silva and his armed men, Mallory jumps over the bench, pushes M out of the way and takes the bullet meant for her before teaming up with Bond to shoot back at the attackers, killing at least one. In terms of the Bond masculine economy, Mallory asserts his value by demonstrating the same qualities that define Bond: physical agility, skill as a killer, and the ability to withstand physical pain.

Resurrection

Bond’s aging body

Bond’s ability to absorb and overcome physical pain is crucial to his own resurrection as masculine icon. This is because, in contrast to earlier Bonds who were “affiliated with the British lover tradition,” the masculinity of Craig’s Bond is primarily located in his “body, rather than his libido … and his heroic competency is now established through the body’s success within the space of physical action” (Funnell 208). Despite the barely healed and still painful bullet wound to his chest, Bond emphatically asserts his masculinity when, in pursuit of Patrice, he hangs from the undercarriage of an elevator as it soars to the top of a Shanghai high-rise. Bond grimaces in pain and has to release one hand, but still manages to hold on, approach Patrice undetected, and defeat him in hand-to-hand combat, proving that, even wounded, this Bond is physically superior to his enemies. Skyfall does gesture toward the lover tradition of the Bond series when Bond seduces and beds Silva’s lover, Severine; however, the scene is brief and only significant in that Severine leads Bond to Silva’s headquarters. There, Silva challenges Bond to a William Tell contest; the first to shoot a glass of scotch balanced on Severine’s head wins. Bond’s hand shakes as he takes aim, and Silva questions whether Bond is still the man he once was, before shooting Severine himself. However, Bond refutes Silva’s apparent victory by easily disarming and killing Silva’s men and holding Silva himself at gunpoint. Because Bond’s masculinity primarily depends upon him proving his physical competency, his failure to save Severine is less important than his ability to physically overpower his male enemies.

Thus, after arousing anxiety about his obsolescence, Skyfall insists on the continued relevance and power of Bond’s brand of muscular masculinity. The scene of Bond’s first meeting with Q in the National Gallery further reinforces this message. Q and Bond contemplate a painting by John M. W. Turner, The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up (1839). The Temeraire “played a distinguished role in Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 but was decommissioned in 1838” (“Fighting Temeraire”). Q reflects that the painting – voted “Greatest Painting in Britain” by BBC Radio 4 listeners in 2005 (“Turner Wins”) – “always makes me feel a little melancholy. The grand old warship being ignominiously hauled away for scrap . . . The inevitability of time, don’t you think?” When he asks what Bond sees, however, Bond replies, “A very big ship.” Where Q sees only a symbol of the passing of Britain’s glorious days of Empire and naval supremacy (Grech 36), Bond recognises a still imposing and powerful figure. Q and Bond then engage in a verbal sparring match, each doubting the other man’s ability on the basis of age. Q implies that Bond’s time has passed; Q can do more damage on his laptop, sitting in his pyjamas before breakfast, than Bond can do in the field in a year. However, Bond insists that he is more than just a blunt instrument occasionally required to pull a trigger on the instructions of MI6. He is also responsible for making the split-second life-and-death decisions that bureaucrats and technicians like M and Q cannot make effectively staring at a computer screen on the other side of the world. This sparring match results in mutual respect, and when Bond and Q later team up to track the escaped Silva, Skyfall insists that Britain’s security in the twenty-first century is assured because the nation can rely on both men: Q, the computer genius with the technological expertise needed to match modern-day terrorists, and Bond, the experienced agent who has the intuition, determination and physical resilience still needed to bring the enemy to ground. This teamwork is most evident when Q and Bond work together to break Silva’s encrypted code. Q is one of only five people in the world who know how the code works, but it is Bond who identifies the keyword needed to unlock it: he spots the word “Granborough” because he is old enough to remember that it is the name of a tube station that has been closed for years.

The Aston Martin and Skyfall

In order for Bond to complete his resurrection and reclaim his iconic status, however, he must ultimately defeat his enemy alone. In the process, he must also resolve the childhood trauma that has been at the root of his crisis of masculinity since he first achieved his double-0 status. Therefore, after Silva’s attack on the parliamentary hearing, Bond takes M and travels figuratively “back in time,” back to Skyfall, his ancestral home. Skyfall is an imposing estate dating back to Reformation times that still stands isolated in the harsh and windswept Scottish landscape. The choice of this setting for Bond’s final confrontation with Silva wards off persistent fears of obsolescence by inviting viewers to indulge in a self-conscious “nostalgic fantasy” (Hoa 10) of a simpler pre-technological past. Jeremy Black argues that nostalgia is typical of Bond films and has contributed to the series’ ongoing success: “The films are popular in Britain in large part because of the element of nostalgia in their appeal. They offer a refuge from the reality of British decline and the decay of traditional British values” (213). Skyfall certainly offers this refuge; nostalgia permeates the entire film, as when MI6 relocates to Churchill’s World War II bunkers. Like Turner’s “Fighting Temeraire,” this setting recalls Britain’s glorious military past and another occasion on which, through courage and dogged determination, the nation achieved victory against all odds. Director Mendes further encourages the viewer to indulge in the pleasures of nostalgia through self-referential celebration of the Bond series itself, as when Bond opens a garage door to reveal the iconic 1964 Aston Martin DB5, complete with original registration plate and ejector seat, from the third Bond film, Goldfinger.

Bond’s careful preservation of the Aston Martin suggests his own nostalgia; however, he proves that rather than being constrained and limited by the past, he is willing to use the best of the past to survive into the future, an “old dog [with], new tricks.” When Silva’s men attack Skyfall, Bond turns the car’s cannons on them, even though he knows the car will be destroyed in return. Other than the car, Bond’s arsenal consists of two shot guns, one pistol, and a few sticks of dynamite. Yet as Kincaid, Bond’s old family retainer, places a hunting knife on the table, he observes that, “Sometimes the old ways are the best.” Faced with a threatening technological future, the film celebrates old-fashioned, low-tech ingenuity. M sets up bags of nails, broken glass and gunpowder to explode when she flicks a light switch, while Bond rigs the dynamite to blow up some gas bottles. Flying debris from the explosion takes down Silva’s helicopter and kills a number of his henchmen, even as the house itself is destroyed.

The destruction of Skyfall commences

Bond’s destruction of his childhood home is necessary to complete his resurrection. The white sheets draped over Skyfall’s furnishings evoke the ghosts that have long haunted him and must therefore be expunged before Bond can finally assume the iconic masculine identity that the tormented Daniel Craig incarnation has never fully embodied. This entire sequence is highly symbolic of rebirth. After setting the gas bottles to explode, Bond flees through the tunnels beneath the house. As the spectacular conflagration consumes his childhood home, Bond, Phoenix-like, emerges from the mouth of the tunnel, reborn cleansed by fire and freed from the clutches of the past. Now his childhood memories are transformed from a weakness into a strength; Bond runs confidently over the terrain he knows so well while his enemies stumble blindly in the dark. At one point, Bond and an assailant fall into the icy water together, but Bond again prevails in this harsh environment where only the hardest men survive. Grech notes that this scene again has strong connotations of rebirth with Bond’s near-drowning working as a metaphor for “baptism into new life” (35). When he emerges from the frozen pond, Bond walks past his parents’ graves and into the family chapel, where he kills Silva, putting to rest the threat posed by both the past and the future. By killing Silva in the place where his parents are buried, Bond affirms that neither he nor Britain while be haunted any longer by the ghosts of the past. Furthermore, by using the hunting knife, Bond proves that the old ways are still capable of accounting for and containing the technologically threatening future.

Conclusion

Bond reborn

With the deaths of Silva and M, Skyfall achieves its “ideological project” (Chapman Licence 34): the resurrection of Bond as masculine icon and embodiment of a Britain that is presented as still powerful and significant in the twenty-first century. Back in London, Bond stands on the roof of MI6 surveying the complement of iconic British sites: Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament. A British flag flies prominently in the centre of the shot, offering viewers reassurance that Britain will survive and thrive as long as Bond watches over her. The final scene of Skyfall fully immerses the viewer in nostalgic celebration of Britain’s glorious past. This scene, the last in this fiftieth anniversary film, is also an unabashed homage to the masculine heritage of the Bond series, with MI6 fully restored as a male-dominated space. Not only is M dead and replaced by Mallory, but the female agent who shot Bond reveals that her name is Eve Moneypenny and takes up her accustomed role as the new M’s secretary, leaving the field to male agents like Bond. For the first time, Moneypenny is played by a woman of colour, Naomie Harris, suggesting Skyfall‘s nostalgia is balanced by a contemporary desire to acknowledge the diversity of Britain’s citizens. Nevertheless, Moneypenny remains excluded from MI6’s inner sanctum, sitting in the adjoining room while Bond and Mallory discuss Bond’s next mission in M’s office. This office has been styled almost identically to that of the first M (played by Bernard Lee) in the original Bond film, Dr No (Terence Young, 1962). Grech notes the painting behind Mallory’s desk, Thomas Buttersworth’s The Battle of Trafalgar (1805), which depicts the Temeraire “in its heyday, in action thirty years before the events in Turner’s painting, rejuvenated and in the thick of the action” (39). Supplanting Turner’s more melancholy meditation, the prominence of this painting denies the passage of time and the waning of British Empire. Similarly, the spectacular resurrection of Bond in Skyfall denies men’s fears of obsolescence in an uncertain future by realigning the threat with the past and projecting fear of masculine obsolescence onto M, whose removal from power and the narrative itself is central to Skyfall‘s “nostalgic fantasy” (Hoa 10). No longer constrained or critiqued by female authority, nor tormented by his childhood memories, completely restored physically and psychologically as the iconic hero of twenty-three films, Bond eagerly accepts his next mission, an “old dog [with] new tricks” ready to take the Bond series forward into its sixth decade.

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