When I was in graduate school and felt the need to seem pretentious (which was a lot), I’d offhandedly say, “Oh, I’m a genre theorist.” Technically, it was true — most of my studies focused on the traits that grouped movies together, to the point where I did my thesis on teen films. Which means part of my degree is because of the fact that I’ve seen “Clueless” upward of 40 times.
James Bond films are often slotted into the “action” category, but that’s not right — they’re a subset of action called “James Bond films.” And you know the tropes: two women, neato technology, a villain who won’t just SHOOT HIM. What’s absolutely brilliant about “Skyfall,” out Friday, is that this Bond film embraces and expands the rules of the genre, often at the same time.
“Skyfall” is, in part, about the aging process — both of Bond the man and Bond the franchise (as fun as the old films are, many of them don’t hold up to modern sensibilities about women, minorities and gadgetry). Director Sam Mendes has taken the old rules, spun them around a few times and ended up with a film that builds upon the 50-year-old Bond rule book — there are still two women, Bond still drinks martinis (and, sigh, Heineken, thanks to an ad deal), there are still a few JUST SHOOT HIM moments — while making it clear that this is a Bond ready for modern times.