Questioning ‘Skyfall’s Villain and How Closely the Film Mirrors ‘The Dark Knight’

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Javier Bardem in Skyfall (left); Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Javier Bardem in Skyfall (left); Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Photo: MGM / Columbia Pictures / Warner Bros.

After escaping, Silva takes to dressing as a cop (we’ve seen that disguise before) and heads over to try and, presumably, kill M at her hearing. Just as The Joker’s plan is eventually thwarted, so is Silva’s and all comes to an end. Had this been The Dark Knight we would have the Two Face coda, but Skyfall already got that out of the way in the opening 15 minutes and so we are simply ready to introduce Eve as the new Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Ralph Fiennes as the new M.

Now this brings me down to my issues with Silva as a character. These aren’t issues raised because he plots seemingly impossible plans the same as The Joker, but a comparison to The Joker is apt considering they are so alike in many ways. Many ways, but one.

Some may argue against me on this, but I see the difference between Silva and The Joker in that The Joker is a legitimate madman that, as he says, just wants to see the world burn. Silva’s decisions are more specific. He wants revenge on a specific target. He feels abandoned and someone must pay, whether you see that as the whole of London, MI6 or simply M doesn’t really matter. Fact is, it’s not the world he wants to see burn, it’s one target.

This is why Silva’s contradictory plan to be captured, escape and subsequent shooting rampage confuses me as it takes up the whole of the film’s second act before devolving into the Straw Dogs finale.

By stealing the hard drive and remotely revealing five agents a week he is accomplishing everything he set out to do. He is exposing the holes in MI6 and M is under fire and is being asked to retire. Had he not allowed Bond and MI6 to capture him who is to say he ever would have been found as his plan continued to wreck havoc on MI6, M and London.

Once Silva decides to be captured and then escape, the necessity for MI6 and all it does behind the scenes is brought to the forefront and placed on display. M is in the middle of a hearing and she must be saved by an MI6 agent along with the minister’s ruling over her fate. What better example do you need for the value of MI6 than that? In short, Silva has just carried out a plan counterproductive to everything he’s done to that point, establishing the need for MI6 and all it does to protect the people that is not normally in public display. Is there any better reason to let M do her job than the evidence of a madman running loose in the city?

The question I’m left with remains… Was Silva trying to kill M? Embarrass her? Torture her? Prove MI6 incompetent?

If he was trying to prove MI6 incompetent or embarrass M he had already done that, but ruined it when he stormed the hearing. If he was trying to torture her, he had already accomplished that as well. The failed mission to recover the hard drive (By the way, what happened to that hard drive?) and the scrutiny she was placed under along with the forced retirement was torture enough, killing her was letting her off easy.

Then comes the scene with Silva holding the gun to both his and M’s head that I thought was even more conflicting. Is he trying to say that both he and M are the same, both have faults and should go out together? Is Silva completely batshit crazy and that’s what’s going on here? Is he a mad genius that devised all these plans only to have them all crash in on themselves? I don’t believe any of that.

Silva was a genius on many levels, but his vision was clouded at best and all the contradictory moves he made caused me to wonder if he knew what he was doing at all.

Skyfall is a tremendous jump start for a franchise many believed needed one. It has rebooted the franchise into legitimacy and people are loving it. The future is bright with a new M, Q and Miss Moneypenny and talented actors in each and every role. Bond’s character is more fleshed out now than he’s ever been and I love a recent quote producer Barbara Broccoli recently gave when asked if they were looking at bringing back Blofeld: “I mean, we’ve talked about Blofeld over the years. The thing is Blofeld was fantastic for the time but I think it’s about creating characters that are, villains that are more appropriate for the contemporary world. It’s more exciting for us to create somebody new.

Skyfall played like a movie working inside the contemporary framework that made The Dark Knight so successful. They took a successful movie, tweaked it for their needs and have Bond back on his feet and making more money than the franchise could have ever thought possible. I just hope, now that we’ve gotten all the old characters we wanted established and this new Bond is now modernized and ready to work within contemporary expectations, the future of the Bond franchise will be as good as this film portends it to be and, as Broccoli says, actually come up with something new.

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Weekend: Dec. 5, 2019, Dec. 8, 2019

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