This past Sunday my father sent me an email containing a document he had written. It was an extent exclamation about risk, the concept and its relation to America. It began as a diatribe condemning those present for doing the same to the past. Secure in our beds we’ve grown fat from lying still. Be that as it may the tirade ended on a positive note. That we remember those that risked it all, and take some risks of our own in turn.
Such sentiments stirred within me as I went to see this week’s movie, Skyfall. This, the 23rd film in the Bond franchise, marks the series fiftieth year and the first installment outside of Fleming’s lore. That said it complements its literary past like no other feature before it. In addition it pays homage to the nuances established throughout its cinematic history. All in all it’s an excellent film that discusses risk via an interesting binary.
On one hand there is Bond, the British Bulldog exhausted by his duty, but unwilling to slack in his service. On the other there is Silva, an ex-operative vigorously itching at the scars of betrayal. Bond’s core is country, whereas Silva’s is revenge. The first struggles to find purpose, and the second patiently awaits the fruits of the one he’s found. The dualism dives deeper still. Bond takes risks related to trust, a dense rock with a grounding gravity. Silva’s orbits around the opposite, yet he ignores the fact that his lack of faith leaves him with no firm footing. Thus Bond’s risk is in standing still, while Silva’s is in floating free. Both gamble, but as to how the chips fall you’ll have to see the film.
What is important to note is that both the protagonist and the antagonist take risks. Without doing so the plot would be rather thin. Life is no different, and the truth of this at times is clear. Every so often I see that the spoils of life are exactly that, spoils. Delectable distractions that delude me into forgetting the fact that today could be my last. Meaning I should not eat, drink and be merry if it’s all about to end, but rather dig a little deeper.
And so I think back to the game “Risk,” and the greatest round I ever played. Pitted against five others I plotted to discover opponents and not merely allies. Not out of arrogance, but rather awareness that such a risk need be taken if victory’s the goal. I conquered all but one with little help aside from my own stratagem. Like Alexander I lost in the end, but like him I learned a lesson. All conquerors are eventually overwhelmed; nevertheless their efforts are remembered throughout the ages. Without risk there is no reward. No legend. And let’s be honest, it’s the real reason Bond has such an extent one.