Shaken & Stirred

So Bond is back. We’ve been expecting him of course. Countless trailers and interviews, adverts and sneak previews have been coming at us like a hail of bullets from James’s Walther PPK. Finally got to see it yesterday, I say finally – it only came out two and half weeks ago, but that’s a long time in 007’s world. The word everywhere is that this is good, really good – and that’s always a dangerous premise under which to go and see a film. Once the reviews are glowing it’s easy to go expecting ‘the best movie ever made’.

But we weren’t disappointed, far from it. It weaves together the old and the new from Bond’s long and checkered career in thrilling, witty style. Not as funny as my favourite Bond outing Goldeneye – but then this is a different time and Mr Craig is a different Bond. And this is, in my humble opinion, a very, very good movie. Javier Bardem as the blond baddie is particularly good, terrifying, entertaining and at times oddly likeable.

I first came across Craig, Daniel Craig, in a little gangster movie called Layer Cake way back in the dark ages, 2004 I think it was. I’d never see him before and he hadn’t been outed as the next Bond then, but I really enjoyed that movie, and he seemed to me to do a pretty good job in the acting stakes. My wife has long waxed lyrical about a guy called Dougray Scott – when Dan Dan the action man hangs up the keys to his DB5 she would love to see Mr Scott takeover. You can check him out here as the Bad Guy with the Big Gun in Mission Impossible 2.

I won’t spoil Skyfall for you if you intend to see it, but what what did strike me about it is this. Like Batman before him, here we have another broken hero. Roger Moore used to gad about, wooing the chicks and dropping villains at the flash of a raised eyebrow. Pausing just long enough to flick the dust from his shoulder. Suave and sophisticated, he never broke a sweat, or a bone, just a few hearts and the speed limit. And he was always attired in a good suit. Even if it was sometimes bright yellow.

However, early in Skyfall we find the superspy looking anything but super. The man in the bat suit was seen limping on a cane earlier this year. Well, here’s Mr Bond, as we’ve not been expecting him, drinking too much and playing hooky from his day job. ‘Enjoying death,’ as he puts it. Though he looks more haunted than happy. Any one of us probably dreams of being able to find a way out sometimes. A place without the pressure. Away from the various responsibilities placed on us, and the difficult nature of normal life. To disappear from it once in a while would be great, thanks very much. M. Scott Peck began his bestseller The Road Less Travelled with the line – ‘Life is difficult.’

If you’re a Christian it can perhaps feel heretical to say that out loud. We can we feel we somehow have to defend God by having impossibly perfect lives. We feel that we must somehow have everything sorted out and be doing okay. To not be defeated by our troubles, to be ‘more than conquerors’. Especially if others seem to be coping fine. But the reality is different. Many of us fall apart at times, and sometimes spectacularly so. And following Jesus does not inoculate us from the problems. In Biblical terms when the heat in the kitchen got too much – Jonah jumped ship, Gideon hid in a wine factory, Abe, Moses and Jake all fled, like 007, to foreign countries. Jesus lived a very hard life himself and like Mr Bond was tempted to duck out of his tough role. He entered our world and deliberately plunged himself into the harsh realities of our everyday existence  He felt at times lonely, heartbroken, misunderstood  and frustrated. When a group of folks come looking for him and he felt the pressure of expectation bearing down upon him he said (out loud) ‘What shall I do? Pray for some way out of this?’ Scott Peck followed his opening line about the hardships of life with this one – ‘Life is difficult. Accept that truth and you transcend it.’ Not easy, but profound all the same. When I expect life to be straightforward I am often floored by it. I feel disappointed and destroyed again. And Jesus understands this, he said in one of his stories that some people give up on their  faith when they discover life is still full of troubles and difficulties. But to face the realities and wrestle with them can be a helpful thing, a godly thing even. It’s just not very easy. And often frightening  And sometimes like Mr Bond and Batman, we find ourselves limping into the darkness to find shelter. I do anyway.

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