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Secret Agents Ain't What They Used to Be

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WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS, SO IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE LATEST JAMES BOND MOVIE, SKYFALL, READ NO FURTHER...

I love James Bond, me. I love the movies (and yes, of course I have the whole collection -
apart from Skyfall, obviously - on DVD and plan to get the Blu-Ray collection soon) and I love the Fleming novels and short stories, all of which I've read more than once. I even have a couple of the original Fleming books in hard back, first editions with dust jackets -get me!

So, in summary: Bond fan. Big time.

I also loved the latest cinematic offering, Skyfall; and while no actor who has played the lead role since 1971 has matched the sheer class of Connery, Daniel Craig is certainly among the best. I'm told Mr Craig has a certain appeal to female viewers, which might explain why even my wife, who gets bored by most Bond movies within seconds of the opening credits ending, loved the latest offering.

But assuming you, the reader, is at least passingly familiar with the 007 oeuvre, let me ask you this: in which previous Bond movies did the villain manage to carry out his fiendish plan? Granted, Blofeld snatched something of a victory out of the jaws of defeat at the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service by killing Mrs Bond on her wedding day. And the same baddie (played, inevitably, by a different actor) was never apprehended amid the chaos of the end of Diamonds Are Forever.

But neither of those 'victories' can compare with that of the latest villain, Silva, played wonderfully by Javier Bardem. Not for this rogue MI6 agent a war between the super-powers or the radioactive contamination of the United States' gold reserves. No, his evil ambition was far more pedestrian and believable: namely, the death of M, the MI6 chief who betrayed him to the Chinese. And, as became clear in one of the final scenes, Silva was prepared to sacrifice his own life in order to kill the woman who stabbed him in the back.

And he got what he wanted. Mission accomplished.

How the hell did that happen? Two words: James Bond.

Following Silva's unsuccessful attempt on M's life while she gave evidence to a parliamentary enquiry in the central London, Bond took control of things. He decided, off his own back and without any authorisation from M or anyone else, to remove his boss from London, where she could at least rely on her usual security arrangements. Specifically requesting that Q drops just enough breadcrumbs for Silva and his hoods to trace him at his old house in Scotland, he drives his famed DB5 northwards. Once at the ancestral pile, he enlists the help of his old gamekeeper and awaits the arrival of Silva and his private army.

So let's look again at the charge sheet: Bond takes M away from anyone who might have the resources to protect her, heads to the remotest place in the UK without any kind of backup, doesn't tell MI6 where he's going... but lets Silva know!

What the hell's going on? Is Bond working for Silva? Because if he is, he couldn't have done a worse job of protecting poor M.

And, inevitably, despite doing a decent impression of Jason Bourne (and, some unkind soul has suggested, Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone) by turning some familiar household objects into deadly weapons, the odds are too great even for Bond; who'd've thunk that a private army equipped with state-of-the-art helicopters and weaponry could get the better of one MI6 agent and two pensioners?

So why wasn't he arrested upon his shamefaced return to London and investigated for complicity in the death of a senior public servant? Shouldn't he at least have been sacked on the spot for the woeful misjudgment and incompetence that directly resulted in Silva's posthumous triumph? Oh, no! Instead of deservedly losing his secret service pension, Bond is congratulated, given a new boss and is allowed to go back to work... in Roger Moore's old movie set, no less!

So what's next for our favourite agent, I wonder? Perhaps now that he's lost his mojo, Ernst Stavro Blofeld will risk coming out of retirement, confident that when SPECTRE's nuclear missiles are lined up and ready to fire, his old nemesis is more likely to press the "launch" button than the "self destruct" one. Or maybe M will just cut to the chase and team 007 up with the more competent Austin Powers.

Too harsh, you think?

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