New SKYFALL Pic Tells Us Everything Or Nothing

Bond's still scruffy. What's it mean?

This is not real news, but it's important that Bond freaks know they have a friend at BAD, a fellow 007 dork who is hanging on every bit of info from Skyfall, the new Bond film currently shooting, and that friend wants to overanalyze every morsel of data from the new film as much as they do.

Eon has released the "first official still" (which makes one wonder what the pool photo was from a couple weeks ago), but at least this time Daniel Craig is facing camera (full size here).

We know part of the film is set in Shanghai, and the lighting scheme here suggests maybe that's the setting of this photo. (Is that racist? Blame Ridley Scott and Syd Mead.) More noteworthy is that Craig is rocking both 007's traditional Walther PPK, as well as the new, much-debated facial hair, indicating that maybe he's sporting this look for more than just a pre-title sequence, or whatever story it is that Bond fans are convincing themselves of in the hopes of getting a "proper" Bond film this time out.

On that note, a thought: Skyfall director Sam Mendes likely has no interest in maintaining some other filmmakers' previously established tone, and Eon have never exactly been sticklers for continuity, with the series sometimes shifting directions wildly between films. Seeing what we have of Craig's appearance so far, it seems clear they aren't going toward a more traditional Bond, as many of the more fetishistic fans have been hoping, and in fact I wonder if Craig and Mendes are actually retooling Craig's Bond mid-run, creating their own distinct vision of Ian Fleming's master spy (despite all the classic title-dropping being done by producer Michael G. Wilson recently).

If I'm even half-right, it could be exciting. In 20 years' time, we'll look back on the Craig run as a period of experimentation for the franchise, a period in which they never fell back onto formula and, for better or worse, tried something new and different in every film. There's no shame in that, or in mixed results, and as Bond will outlive us all anyway, it's fun to be around for the phase where they mix it up a bit.

But as a consolation prize to the traditionalists, here's a recent shot of the crew filming Bond driving a 1964 Aston Martin.