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If I understand Skyfall correctly, James Bond's primary mission is to protect M from being killed by Silva -- despite this, near the end of the movie, M dies from a wound inflicted by Silva's men.

Earlier in the movie, Bond had been tasked with preventing Silva's distribution of the names of MI6's undercover agents -- but Silva was able to begin distributing the names, resulting in the deaths of multiple undercover agents and a public inquiry into MI6.

Also, Silva successfully detonated bombs in MI6 headquarters and in the London Underground.

With all this in mind, did James Bond fail his mission in "Skyfall"? Bond managed to save his own life and to kill Silva, but virtually all of Silva's plan seemed to succeed.

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4 Answers 4

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Bond's official mission was to retrieve the hard drive with the names on it. When Q plugged the drive into his laptop it hacked MI6's network, and Silva escaped. Silva then tries to kill M, but Bond saves her.

Bond and M go to Skyfall where they fight Silva. Bond kills Silva, but M dies.

I don't think he was officially given a mission to protect M in the film, but M didn't want anyone else to die because of her. So they both left London to go to Skyfall.

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I think the key is " M didn't want anyone else to die because of her"... seems the unofficial mission was to kill Silva so he couldn't do more large-scale harm... saving M would have been a bonus, but was not the ultimate goal. Answer accepted. –  Shiz Z. Feb 8 '13 at 18:04

this has been bugging me too. I loved the movie, but this plot issue has been rattling around my brain.

Overall, 007 seems to fail in every way possible.

  1. He takes part in a botched operation where the hard drive is stolen.
  2. He knows M has given the order to 'take the shot' because he is listening on his earpiece; but he fails to duck and is hit.
  3. He fails his fitness test, pyschological test and firearms test
  4. He promises to protect the woman who introduces him to Silva - she dies.
  5. He assists Q when he plugs in the hard-drive that makes Silva's escape possible.
  6. He chases Silva but he gets away.
  7. He takes M to Skyfall where he will protect her. She dies.

So does he fail his mission? That of, retrieving the hard drive. Technically, maybe, no. But he certainly fails in everything else!

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He also accidentally kills Patrice, the guy he was supposed to interrogate. –  atticae Dec 11 '12 at 15:23
    
He promises to protect the woman who introduces him to Silva - she dies. Did she in fact die? I thought the whisky(?) glass fell because she fainted or something. –  Kyralessa Dec 18 '12 at 2:49
    
@Kyralessa No, I'm pretty sure she died as she was shot by Silva, which demonstrates his somehow unorthodox (unethical?) but rather effective methods (everybody else would have tried to shoot the glass, a much harder target). –  Napoleon Wilson Jan 2 '13 at 18:51
3  
One more. He fails to return the customized Walther PPK that was issued to him by Q. –  user3768 Jan 2 '13 at 22:34
  • Earlier in the movie, Bond had been tasked with preventing Silva's distribution of the names of MI6's undercover agents

    Yes, that was explicitly designed to be a failure.

    We can confirm that from Director Sam Mendes's Audio Commentary on Blue-Ray release. In Extra #4 "The Death of Bond" he says, about the opening sequence:

    To me, what's special about the sequence, is that he failed.
    The tradition of Bond opening sequences, is that there's a great moment and it's Bondian... It's triumphant.
    And he dusts himself down and we get on with the story.
    Well, actually, it's the other way around here.

    enter image description here


  • If I understand Skyfall correctly, James Bond's primary mission is to protect M from being killed by Silva -- despite this, near the end of the movie, M dies from a wound inflicted by Silva's men.

    Sorry, you understood it incorrectly, in 2 ways. First, Bond's primary mission changes, but it never is "to protect M" from official standpoint:

    1. First, his mission is to retrieve the hard drive.

      As discussed earlier, he fails that. But largely thanks to M's decision making as discussed below.

    2. His second mission, as set to him by M is to apprehend Sliva and get the hard drive.

      Silva is captured by Bond.

      While we never get a clear-cut confirmation that he got the hard drive, it is pretty clear that it was retrieved, since M. wants to know if Silva transmitted the data to anyone else. So Bond succeeded on both counts there.

    3. Once Silva escapes, Bond sets himself an impromptu mission to find and stop him.

      First, he foils Silva's plan to attack the government inquiry where M. is.

      Then, he and M. agree to use M. as bait to catch Silva and stop him. Note that the mission is to catch/stop Silva, NOT to save M. explicitly.

      M: 007, what the hell are we doing? Are you kidnapping me?
      JB: That would be one way of looking at it.
      M: Too many people are dying because of me
      JB: If he wants you, he'll have to come and get you.
      We've been one step behind Silva from the start. It's time to get out in front, change the game.
      And I'm to be the bait? {{ JB and M. exchange understanding nods}}. All right. But just us. No one else.

      Note that this is NOT an official MI6 mission/task:

      JB: Q? I need help.
      ...
      Q: I'm guessing this isn't strictly official.
      JB: Not even remotely.


    Another thing you have to understand is that 100% of the failures were NOT Bond's but other people's - notably, M.'s and Q.'s:

    • M. herself admitted the failures:

      M: I fucked this up, didn't I?
      JB: No. You did your job.

      ... and in the end, when dying:

      I did get one thing right. (referring to the fact that she trusted Bond to do the job, and everything else she got wrong).

    • M. set up the whole situation by surrendering Silva to the Chinese

    • M. gave the order to Eve to shoot, which took out Bond and prevented him from winning the hard drive from Patrice.

    • M. gave the order to bring Silva to the new MI6 headquarters

    • And Q., being the goofus that he is, connected Silva's computer full of malware to the alien mothership MI6 network. WTF???

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"it is pretty clear that it was retrieved, since M. wants to know if Silva transmitted the data to anyone else" - Don't remember that, but sounds like you could even answer that other question. Otherwise interesting answer. –  Napoleon Wilson Sep 29 at 7:49

Silva won. He wanted to discredit M and die with her, and that's what happened.

Bond's official mission was really just a small part of Silva's scheme. This is a common trope in the thriller genre, and we expect the hero to eventually figure out what's going on and thwart the villain's plan at the last possible moment. But Bond didn't do that.

Bond did score two modest successes: Silva died at Bond's hands, rather than his own or M's; and Silva died believing that he had failed. Even so, Silva came out on top.

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I agree. Silva won. Disappointing for a bond movie :) –  monkjack Nov 25 '13 at 0:59

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