What did we learn from the Skyfall trailer?

Feature Mark Harrison 22 May 2012 - 07:46

Mark dissects what the first Skyfall teaser trailer can tell us about the next instalment in the Bond series...

When the 23rd James Bond film lands in cinemas this October, it will have been four years since Daniel Craig appeared in the unfairly-maligned Quantum of Solace. There's already a promising momentum going into Skyfall, with director Sam Mendes assembling a stellar supporting cast to play in John Logan's script. Yesterday saw the release of the first teaser trailer for the movie, and here's what we've gleaned from our first glimpse at 007's next adventure.

Word association

The trailer opens ominously, as so many do these days, with Bond staring out over London, but there's already a terrific scene going on through the first half of the teaser. Everyone's favourite secret agent bastard seems to be undergoing some kind of interrogation, playing a word association game with an unseen interviewer.

There's some great dialogue here, which is telling about 007's state of mind. The connection between “Murder” and “Employment” feels very Bond indeed - the character's CV is pretty blood-splattered after fifty years on the big screen. Most intriguingly, however, the game ends with the interviewer bringing up the film's title, “Skyfall.” Our hero hesitates, but then decisively declares that he's done, and walks out of the room.

The series has been deconstructing Bond as a character for a long time now, especially since Craig took the reins, and this scene is a neat bit of writing right off the bat. It also gives us our first look at Ralph Fiennes' government official, Gareth Mallory, observing the session along with M (Judi Dench) and Tanner (Rory Kinnear).

We'd guess that whatever the name means, Bond already knows something about it at this point; something he's not telling his bosses, perhaps?


As it's a teaser trailer, we don't really get a good look at many of the action sequences teased thereafter, but we already know that outside of London, the film takes Bond to Scotland, Shanghai, Turkey and Macau. He's shown standing in a boat as he sails into Macau, fireworks lighting up the sky behind him, tux-ed up for another casino scene.

If you got your fill of casino scenes in Craig's Casino Royale, then have no fear- we also glimpse plenty of fist-fights, gunshots and even a figure falling out of a skyscraper. Up in Scotland, there's a stonking, destructive helicopter attack on a building, which some have speculated to be Bond's ancestral home.

Arguably, the most intriguing set-piece features a London Underground train crashing through the ceiling of an underground chamber. Not since The World Is Not Enough's extended opening sequence have we really seen the antagonists causing destruction on MI6's home turf, rather than overseas.

Excitingly, cinematographer Roger Deakins has been working with Mendes on this one, and it looks like they've really created something special. The look of the film is one of the most interesting things about this trailer, because it's so different to anything else we've seen in the series before.

For England

Mendes has promised that the series has never pushed Bond's limits further than Skyfall does, and the teaser seems to show quite enough of 007 being put through the wringer. There's a really terrific shot of M looking at a line of coffins, each draped with the union flag, suggesting that he's not the only one who gets a rough time of it.

The film's synopsis tells us: “Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.” We have to wonder if this means we're going to see other 00-agents involved in Skyfall. Particularly in the Roger Moore era, there's a history of random 00's being killed on assignment near the beginning of the film, just to up the stakes when Bond takes their place.

And of course, Goldeneye's villain, Alex Trevelyan was 006, and Bond's former buddy, before he turned on the British government. Thus far, it seems like the threat is external in Skyfall, but the death toll looks like it's going nowhere but up.

What is Skyfall?

Bond's final line of the trailer goes “Some men are coming to kill us. We're going to kill them first.” An ominous end, too, teasing a film that looks like it's going to explore MI6's inner workings a bit more than its predecessors. With the final line in mind, perhaps Skyfall is the codename for this attack against MI6 and its agents, hence the coffins?

The Living Daylights featured a revived Russian intelligence initiative to kill British agents, called Smiert Spionom (Death to spies) that Timothy Dalton's Bond had to bring to a halt. We don't see much of Javier Bardem's Silva, the villain of the film. We think he's the silhouette who walks away from the burning lodge towards the end of the trailer.

But if he's behind the attack, who is Silva working for? Quantum? Another nation? Henny Penny? There's the merest hint that a communications company may be involved, by a shot at the end of the trailer, of a gunman crouching down in front of a sign, and only just obscuring the name of the company. We think he's the unfortunate soul who's seen falling from that skyscraper at an earlier point in the trailer, but then there are an awful lot of silhouettes in this teaser.

The teaser has whetted our appetites for a new Bond film rather nicely. 2010's movie calendar felt a little empty at a certain point, without some semi-annual super-spy action to keep us going, and Skyfall is especially eagerly awaited for the talents amassed behind it. Without giving away too much of the plot, the teaser hints at a departure from the Vesper arc of Craig's first two outings, and a dark, action-packed new direction.

Skyfall is released in UK cinemas on October 26th 2012.

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Not sure why anyone would described Quantum of Solace as "unfairly-maligned". The script was confused and weak, and the editing was abysmal. So bad in fact, that I'm still waiting for somebody to explain exactly what happens to M in the opening interrogation scene. Does she fall over? Is she pulled over? Is she shot? I can't tell because the editing stinks.

The bullet hits the pole in front of her. You can see the impact. 

Quantum of Solace is a good movie and I can't wait for Skyfall. It looks even better.

It was all going so well until the tube train crashed through the wall. Looks like they spent too much money sending the film crew around the world and not enough on the special effects. After that I didn't even notice the rest of the trailer, I had to watch it again. Now it just looks silly

Thank god someone else has finally applauded Roger Deakins involvement in this.  That alone would get my ass on a seat opening day.  But with Mendes, Bardem and Fiennes involved them that can only help.

Further to an earlier comment, I too am confused by the "unfairly maligned" appraisal of Quantum of Solace.Taken solely on its own merits, it was shockingly mediocre.But in comparison to its superior predecessor, it was bitterly disappointing. I'm a huge fan of Casino Royale, and most likely viewed QOS with some sense of positive bias, but even I could make no excuse for its failures.

The only way is up, and I've every confidence Skyfall will be a marked improvement upon the previous chapter. A fantastic cast, director and cinematographer (whom I think worked on all the Coen brothers' movies) should add up to at the very least a decent sequel, but more likely an exceptional film.

I have a slight diffrence of opinion with you on one aspect.  In the word association when Bond is asked "skyfall" I dont think his reply is that he is done with the interview, but rather that "skyfall" is complete.

You've missed out the fact that Bond seems to have reacquired his classic, Goldfinger-era Aston Martin (see 0:58).  I'm no car expert, but it looks like it!

I'm not a huge bond fan, but there was something about this atmospheric trailer that has whetted my appetite for Skyfall

Very much looking forward to this, great trailer.
The QoS issue raises again here, its a fine movie one I very much enjoyed.
I've said it before and still believe that there is some trend to malign QoS, perhaps its become fashionable? 

 If you want to be an editing critic of a thoroughly brilliant film, get a job as a film critic where you at least get paid to be pedantic.

Sam Mendes got me interested when he said that he was cutting out action scenes for more story. I think in the modern age we have become obsessed with action scenes but it seems things might be changing and we are going back to the old pop corn flicks like Jaws and Indiana Jones, where there was a good balance between action, story and acting. When I watched the trailer, for Skyfall, I started thinking about The Third Man, which had beautiful cinematography, fantastic dialogue and interesting characters. I hope Mendes can match that.

eight coffins in the picture, add Bond and that's your 9.


There are no special effects in the train scene - it was all done for real in a disused tunnel in London.

My thoughts exactly when I saw that - someone's killing off the Double-O Section. Of course, Fleming mentioned 0011 in one of the novels, but we'll just pretend we didn't see that.

 Yes, it'd definitely the DB - which model is up for an expert to point out... but I like the idea that it's become his personal car (after Brosnan).

Very much looking forward to this - the style alone is worth the wait.

hmm...might need to dust off the books again, methinks!

 Deakins replaced Barry Sonnenfeld after Miller's Crossing...

I really wanted to like Quantum of Solace but was sorely disappointed by that film, so I'd genuinely be interested to hear why it may be "unfairly maligned".

I learned that I can wait until it's selling for $3 in the bargain bin.

And even then, maybe. 

Completely agree with this. Cant wait to see another Bond adventure - loved Casino Royale, but was basically confused with QoS.

Basically confused at how poor overall it turned out to be ;-P

The bad guy in Quantam Of Solace was Mr Green, in Casino Royale, Mr White. The communication company is Blue... Comm.You're welcome

Well I'm really surprised to find that out. I watched it several times and it just looks 'wrong', maybe its time to go to Specsavers.

I've been reading the original books over the past few months having seen all the movies but never read the books before. They are surprisinly good and I'm enjoying them very much. It certainly casts a whole new light on James Bond and his work for the secret services. Especially the first half of Moonraker (or what Bond does when he's in the office at work.)

You missed out something, when the person at the beginning says all of these codes, are the things Bond has to do in his mission. When the person says 'Agent' sort of combines with 'Provocatuer' [which is what Bond said] 'Agent Provocatuer' it is a french undercover policemen.

I could be wrong though.

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