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There are several scenes in Skyfall where Bond has opportunities to save people and apparently doesn't try:

  • The security guard Patrice shot in Shanghai
  • The man viewing the painting shot by Patrice
  • Severine (he escaped moments later but fails to save her)

In previous films Bond has always been shown to try and minimise civilian casualties (police often shown climbing out of smashed cars).

Why in Skyfall is he portrayed as being willing to stand by and watch innocent people die?

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IIRC, these things happen after the bombing of MI6 HQ. Bond does not yet realize how attached he is to M. He is looking at M as a mother figure at this point ... how would you act if your mother was threatened in such a way? He uses reckless abandoned and a few innocent people get in the way. This could also be part of the reason why he is unstable in other areas, as well. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 30 '13 at 14:57
As for the first kill wasn't he trying to tail that patrice guy to find the motive so stopping him kill the security guard would have thrown a wrench into everything wouldn't it? – Dredd Oct 30 '13 at 15:10
that being said i might be completely wrong need to watch that movie again i forgot significant plot elements. – Dredd Oct 30 '13 at 15:11
@Dredd Not so wrong, yet even more than that, this kill probably happened too fast and unanticipated by Bond to do anything against it anyway. – Napoleon Wilson Oct 30 '13 at 18:08
up vote 12 down vote accepted

This is only speculation, I am not aware of an in universe answer:

It shows how focussed/cold and detached he has become. He is prepared to let innocent people die rather than risk the chance of jeopardising his mission by potentially giving himself away etc.

It was established at the end of Casino Royal where he tells M to keep 'sweating' his friend as even though they now knew that his lover was a double agent it did not prove that he was not.

It is also shown in the bar scene where he is partying near the beginning. At night everyone is cheering him and drinking with him but in the morning he is alone. He does not form attachments to other people and seems to be in a world of one where everyone is else is a guest or an intruder.

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Good answer. In addition to that, while he maybe could have escaped a few minutes earlier and thus saved Severine from her death, his inability to help her also emphasized his helplessness and physical problems that were a major motive of the movie, I think. – Napoleon Wilson Oct 30 '13 at 14:24
@ChristianRau, I had not thought of that, good point. – Stefan Oct 31 '13 at 9:34
I like the idea that he's focused rather than cold... not letting anything jepodise his mission – Liath Oct 31 '13 at 17:31

What could he do? The guards were all dead, at least they seemed so, the man watching the painting was in another building, and Severine being shot took him by surprise. I didn't think anything unusual or out of the ordinary.

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