Bardemic: Sherlock And Terror

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UPDATE: Enjoy a Skyfall themed LoFi comic

Like all who uncover a conspiracy, I am shocked that more people (as in ALL PEOPLE) aren’t obsessing over it already. I seem to be the only person alive who noticed that Silva, played by Havier Bardem, in Skyfall is just a redressing of Moriarty from the BBC’s Sherlock. It’s not even subtle.

!!!SKYFALL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

DAMNING SIMILARITIES: Both are consulting criminal masterminds that offer their services to the highest bidder. Both go on and on about how crimes are all committed digitally these days and master hackers are more powerful than armed thugs. Both compare themselves to their enemy as an “equal but opposite.” Both offer to join up with their nemesis to rule the crime world. Both at least pretend to be gay or bisexual (it is unclear whether either character actually is). Both have a silly way of talking. This is probably just Bardem’s accent, but they definitely both have odd inflections and word emphasis.

THE MOST DAMNING SIMILARITY: Silva’s entire capture and and escape from MI6 plays out EXACTLY like Moriarty’s capture and escape from “The Reichenbach Fall” episode from Sherlock series 2. In each the heroes realize just as things start to go wrong (doors open/bank vaults open) that the capture was orchestrated by the villain. Both villains are housed in glass cells in the center of a room. Both villains just sit there all nonchalant waiting for their plans to take effect. Silva might as well have written “Get Bond” on his cell.

None of these points makes Skyfall a necessarily bad movie, but if you’re a Sherlock fan they will certainly take you out of the moment.

Skyfall was actually quite entertaining, but it certainly wasn’t without its shortcomings. First of all, it’s at least 20 minutes too long. There were so many opportunities to trim the fat, but I have to wonder if they left the pacing slow and even at time dull in order to maintain some sort of British cinema sensibility. A few nitpicks: there’s just too much Dench. There’s a decidedly decent dose of Dench and it detracts from the d… movie. Bardem is quite captivating on screen but he doesn’t show up until about halfway through the movie. When it’s over, if you really think about what Silva had built, what his motivation for killing M was and what he eventually lost, it’s pretty much impossible to understand his motivation for going through with it all in the way that he did.

After that list, I’m wondering what I actually liked about Skyfall. I guess I could say when it was moving, when Bond was BEING Bond, it was great. The whole thing at the end where we “catch up” to 1960’s Bond canon (Moneypenny, a male M, the Aston Martin, The Scottish roots, etc) seemed a bit odd at first but really I ended up finding that whole through line charming in a VERY James Bondish way. You’re supposed to take away that these first three Daniel Craig Bond movies are an alternate universe prequel of sorts, where we see Bond becoming the Bond that we met with Sean Connery. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to effect the next sequels, but I take it more of a nudge and wink than a strict re-un-de-also-reboot.

So where does Skyfall fall in the rankings? Certainly better than Quantum of Solace, but not as good as Casino Royale. And the Sherlock stuff goes way past an homage and into straight up plot left.

COMMENTERS: I KNOW I AM NOT CRAZY! ALL THAT SHERLOCK STUFF IS REAL! PLEASE TELL ME YOU SAW IT TOO! TELL ME I’M A GOOD BOY! TELLLLL MEEEEEE!!!!

Also, what did you think of Skyfall? SPOILERS ARE OK in this thread since my entire review was spoilery.
READ COMMENTS AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

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33 Comments

  1. I enjoyed Skyfall, though I noticed the Moriarty similarity as well. I hadn't noticed that it so closely mirrors the BBC Sherlock (although I did re-watch season 2 this afternoon so perhaps I should have). My only complaint with any villain with a weird accent is that it runs the risk of making them seem silly. Both the latest Moriartys (movie and TV show versions) haven't been anywhere near as intimidating as he is in the books (and in Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentleman – the comic obviously, not the atrocity of the movie).
    I liked that the accent arose from Silva's attempt to take cyanide – it made for some interesting back story. I do worry that they only did it to make him seem different to Bond rather than repeat the Sean Bean/Pierce Brosnan relationship from Goldeneye. I also wondered why a guy with a Hispanic accent and ancestry appeared to be an MI6 agent.
    I'd rank Skyfall about level with The World is Not Enough or The Spy who Loved Me. I was sad to see the classic Aston die though.

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    • I gather it's not that unusual for various nations' intelligence services to make use of foreign "assets", although I think Silva was supposed to have been an actual MI6 operative, which I suspect would be more unusual for a foreigner, unless he was supposed to have been a naturalized British citizen. I admit I wondered about that myself enough that it "took me out of the movie," a little.

      That being said, I did enjoy the movie a great deal. I mean, let's face it, the Bond franchise has never really made much effort to make the movies realistic, because the fact is that most real intelligence work is very boring. I just tend to take the movies as I suspect they are intended, which is a very enjoyable, albeit a bit cheesy, spy/thriller fantasy, not intended to resemble real life.

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  2. Not having seen Skyfall, this sounds awfully similar to a certain petulant Asgardian who is burdened with Glorious Purpose too…

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  3. So, I spent about 30s staring at the first panel, the hand counting things? Wondering why you drew a weird looking penis and him coming out of stall in a movie theater before I got it. I liked Skyfall, I enjoyed M – didn't much enjoy Q. The no gadet thing i enjoyed (at least no gadget that doesn't actually exist), and while I snickered at ejecting M, i didn't much enjoy the 'resolution' half of the movie because it made no sense, like you said. Why would he do what he did. anyways. my eyes are broken. enjoy.

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  4. I kinda hate to mention it, but the old "Hacking computers looks like a bunch of polygons flying around the screen" thing can take me out of any movie. There should be an Oscar on standby for the first filmmaker to make an exciting "hacking" scene that doesn't look totally stupid. Maybe it's impossible – just get past it quick like when Hawkeye's USB-key-arrow made everything crash in Avengers.

    I completely agree with your ranking versus the other two recent Bond movies.

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    • 3D CYBERSCAPES MAN!

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    • How about Trinity's scene in one of the matrix movies, where she uses a shell prompt and nmap?

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    • The screensaver was on??

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  5. The other comparison I've heard is Julian Assange.

    – hacker exposing government secrets
    – nationality/physical similarities

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    • Yeah, I got some of that, and also some Batman. I didn't get the Sherlock/Moriarty thing till Joel mentioned it, but I see that, too.

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  6. A villain orchestrating their own capture and escape has become almost de rigueur for the modern effective baddie. Silva was certainly derivative of more than one awesome modern bad guy, and I don't consider that a negative. Moriarty (BBC), Loki and most famously Dark Knight's Joker, all have the exact same scene near the middle of the movie were they show just how on top of the game they are by getting captured, and then revealing that it "was all part of the plan."
    For my money, Skyfall was by far the best Craig-Bond movie, for its villain, and being so very pretty. Silva combined the resume of Moriarty with the pageantry and watchability of Ledger's Joker. My kind of guy.

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  7. Joel, you are aware that the pre-production for Skyfall had started back in 2010, right?
    That would mean that the 2011 written Sherlock episode would be a James Bond knockoff and not the other way around. Which could make you wonder if Moriarty was nothing but a James Bond villain that was put into a (albeit brilliant) BBC show….

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    • BTW Have a Happy Turkey-Day, you Fancy Bastard

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  8. By the time principal photography of Skyfall began, Sherlock season 2 hadn't even began airing – the script at that point would have been completely sorted so surely any similarities are coincidences; to suggest otherwise would be kinda paranoid. There were also similarities to The Dark Knight Rises that couldn't have been anything more than coincidence.

    And it was a very good movie. Amount of Dench was justified by the entire point of this being her M's swansong, the camerawork, direction and acting were all superb, as was the script; if the story was silly at times or didn't hang completely together in hindsight, then that's kinda par for the course with a Bond movie.

    Anyhoo. I wrote my own review here: http://19andnerdy.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/007-ri

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  9. For the record, the same applies to similarities to Loki.

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  10. Yeah, the bad guy getting caught on purpose for master plan thing is not a Sherlock Holmes thing, just a general action movie thing. I will say I knew Silva let himself be caught immediately, but I still really enjoyed the movie.

    I didn't think there was too much Dench, and I was actually surprised that it DIDN'T feel too long to me – I didn't feel as though I'd been in the movie for 2 1/2 hours, so I was happy.

    However, Silva's plan with that motivation? Yeah, didn't make sense to me, either.

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  11. As a huge/ long-time Bond fan I was extremely pleased with Skyfall. I would like to point out, though, that this "oh I wanted you to catch me so that my master plan will kill you all in the face" strategy is not unique to Sherlock or Bond. Heath Ledger's Joker does the same thing in Dark Knight. Loki in The Avengers. ITS EVERYWHERE… LIKE THAT NUMBER THAT WAS STALKING JIM CARREY

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  12. Overall, I enjoyed the movie — it was classic Bond, right down to the gaping plot/motivation holes. Yeah, I snorted at the glassed-in jail cell, but the biggest disappointment that "took me out of the movie" was the tired "villain is one of us" thang. Whether it's MI6, or the IMF, or the CIA, or Asgard, etc., etc. — the big takeaway seems to be we'd all be better off destroying these groups & stop breeding baddies.

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  13. Skyfall was a mere "ok" as far as I'm concerned. The villain was rather unrealistic (really: mastermind that can hack a computer but used to risk his life in field missions that requires moderate intelligence and guts more than an IQ of 180 which almost never combines with the character traits necessary to be a spy), you could easily go and take a piss several times and miss absolutely nothing. But then again, I liked the stunts, the dialogue and the fusion of the old and new style to make it a whole.

    However, it was not -as so many claim- the best Bond ever. Not by far, imho.

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  14. Wait, they made Sherlock Holmes cool again by making him more like the Doctor, and they made a Bond film with a Sherlock villain and Torchwood is a Doctor Who spinoff with some Bond-like elements… Is all that’s good and Brittish crashing together into some kind of cultural singularity?!!

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    • Its just that Bonda, Sherlock and Marry Poppins are all Timelords.

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  15. Skyfall is great; seen it twice. First time I thought it a bit too long and overhyped, second time I enjoyed it much more. Havier is awesome (man, that guy is scary).

    Re Sherlock comparisons, well, every James Bond is a mano a mano film versus a bad guy. Even if there is an evil syndicate he's fighting at the start of the film, the bad guy has usually murdered them all by the end.

    Re planned prison breaks and computer hackery controlling everything – yep – totally agree it's a hackneyed storyline/plot device.

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  16. Sorry, Joel – you're a new, special brand of crazy, buddy.

    I thought it was a small bit of delicious irony that Q wondered how the hell Silva's programs were getting into the system – and he realized how about a full minute after I, the computer network guy, had long since bust a gut laughing at how foolishly he had just gone and plugged that thing into the system. That was pure comedy gold, even if they sure didn't intend it that way. XD

    My one legit beef with it – the chase at the beginning. The guy with the hard drive – why didn't he arrange for a pick-up for the item from his crashed car (I seriously doubt he was working solo), and act as a decoy to Bond and his backup? Seriously, that would have been pure genius on his part, have a decoy hard drive on his person, just in case he gets caught, then at least -his- back-up got away with the goods. It's an extremely simple rule that I learned from Terry Pratchett: "People always chase after a running man. So never run. Always just casually walk away from the scene, and you'll never be bothered."

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  17. I looked at Silva's odd manner of speaking as a result of that mouthpiece that he had to wear because of the cyanide. Also, I'm not a Bond fanatic, and as such I haven't watched all the films, but is this the first Bond movie where the villain, more or less, succeeded in his ultimate goal? He wanted M dead, and despite him dying before he could witness it firsthand, that's exactly what happened. He demonstrated that he'd be more than willing to die if it meant she died, too (the "take us out with the same bullet" part at the end). Killing James didn't really seem to be all that important a goal for him, so I look at that not being his main thing; more of a secondary or even tertiary goal, primary being "Kill M."

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    • Yeah, at the end of the movie I struggled to think of anything Silva wanted that he didn't get. I think he completely won in every possible way.

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  18. I enjoyed Skyfall and thought it was the first time a Craig movie felt like a Bond movie. As far as the plot/character similarities I think it's more a case of colliding tropes than plagiarism. "Villain orchestrates his capture to further his goals" is getting to be old hat. (Dark Knight's Joker, Avenger's Loki) I remember sitting in the theatre thinking "Q knows how good this guy is and he's plugging his computer into the MI6 mainframe? That's exactly what Silva wants." The same goes for the equal and opposite. It's another particularly common trope, (c.f. Unbreakable), one that Bond Movies have used before (Scaramanga, Octopussy, Janus).

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    • The reason it felt like Sherlock plagiarism to me pretty much all comes down to the glass cell scene.

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  19. Oh Mr. Bond, you should see me in a crown!

    Loved all the Scotland, whisky and stabbing and putting the Skye in Skyfall. Loved M, loved Q, loved Bardem! He was brilliant, both flamboyant and terrifying, and this wasn't even his gayest role.

    Counting down to the first tumblrer to get the url "Bender Tiago Rodriguez" in 3…2…1..

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  20. Not having caught up on Sherlock (I've fallen way behind on all my 'shows I can't watch in my peripheral vision' list, including Dexter and anything after the first episode of Sherlock), but Skyfall totally felt like Javier Bardem's first screen test for being the next live action Joker.

    SPOILERS

    He's got crazy.
    He's got crazy in front of good guys who are willing and able to do him harm.
    He's got crazy in front of massive pyrotechnic effects shots.
    He's got uncomfortable, creepy crazy.
    He's got the long face.

    If he'd managed to get out a long, wicked cackle sometime during the course of the movie, I'd already be writing letters to WB begging them to hurry up with the post-Nolan, post-Bale Batman movies starring Bardem as the Joker.

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    • This is not the craziest idea i've ever heard. I could back this.

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  21. Does Josh drink because he hangs out with Joel or because he hangs out with Joel?

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  22. We just finished watching The Reichenbach Fall and, well, I just have to say it’s exactly as I thought.

    This is what happens when you see a movie with Bo.

    Think back on the conversation you had with him after Skyfall. You might have made a comment about the whole “imprisoned on purpose” thing. He may have. But then a few more similarities came out — no matter how tenuously they supported his premise — and soon you started sharing your observations of them not knowing if you came up with the connections or … or was he … was he leading you to them so that you would make the connections? But by then, you’ve brought into the crazy conspiracy theory that has this movie completely ripping off that show. You’re invested in it. You think you created the connections, saw through the veil. But who led you there?

    Who, Joel? Who?

    “My God,” you are saying to yourself right now. You slowly realize it, don’t you? Say it with me.

    Boyan Radakovich is Serbian for “Rich Brook”.

    He completely Moriarty’d you.

    This is what happens when you see a movie with Bo.

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