johnlink ranks SKYFALL (2012)

Despite working 40 hours a week at a movie theater, I am regularly a year behind in my movie viewing (I blame my children). SKYFALL, the third Bond movie in the Daniel Craig line, is a film I had every intention of seeing during its opening weekend. Almost exactly a year later, I finally did.

Skyfall-005

I watched SKYFALL (2012) on 11.3.13. It was my first viewing of the film.

I will admit to not liking the opening of this film. Daniel Craig, as Bond, had previously provided a believability to the franchise which had deteriorated in the Brosnan years. Yet here was Bond riding motor cycles through a wall and landing on a moving train by holding on with one hand. He was using construction machinery to attach two trains (an amazingly inefficient use of time which the bad guy stood around to watch). He’s getting shot, falling a thousand feet into water, with two bullets in him, and surviving.

What was this? This was a long way from the guy who was getting his balls whipped mercilessly while sitting in a seatless chair. This was seeming to revert back to the Brosnan model.

But director Sam Mendes had a plan. What unfolds shows us that the opening was a way of making us realize how much better the good old days were. Slowly, then, we move further and further from this model of Bond action. As the movie skips along we see fights and battles which reflect the early part of the Bond franchise in tone. To wit, the final battle occurs in Bond’s childhood home. The car is a vintage model. The weapons become less and less sophisticated to the point of improvising bombs and using hunting rifles and knives. It’s all very methodical, even if the script seems less behind the idea than the director.

We get, also, a classic Bond villain. Rather than explain everything, Javier Bardem’s Silva is a classic Bond baddie by way of a Sherlock Holmes antagonist. He plans everything to the smallest detail (even, arguably, to the details he could not have possibly known would have happened in advance). He is deformed of face and seeking revenge on M (Judi Dench). He’s ruthless.

It’s Bond, then, who is a little different. He fails multiple times as he struggles to keep up with his internet powered nemesis. Missions are failed, women are killed in front of his eyes, protected people do not remain so. What is so fascinating about this iteration of Bond over the past three films is just how much he fails. Everyone close to him dies, forgiven only by the fact that he shouldn’t be alive himself. He does not begrudge M her lack of compassion because he knows he will be making the same choices in the field. Only, he has to look his failures in the eye.

Some of the cliches in this film are too prevalent for modesty. The villain knows everything. The techno-jargon seems to lack intelligence. The Bond girls are immediately forgettable, as if Mendes had no interest in that aspect of the story (which is actually fine by me). But, for all of the commitment SKYFALL has to revisiting its ancestral films, it seems too keen to repeat the past.

Interestingly, for the first time in the Craig years, we are starting to see that the first three films here are quasi prequels which aim to get Bond to the place where we have known him before. Indeed, the end of the film reveals nothing but a previous normal. It all seems to point to this being a story as much about the 50th anniversary of Bond as it is to further the character or the plotline.

And, really, that’s quite alright. This is a throwback Bond while not being old-fashioned. It’s fights are sharp and each is better than the last. Craig is as good as ever, and we get a ton of Dame Judi Dench as M in all of her understated glory. Bardem is a wonderful villain, even if his personal combat skills are surprisingly toothless for a former agent.

For my money, this is much better than QUANTUM OF SOLACE but not quite as satisfying as CASINO ROYALE. It is a perfectly solid entry into the annals of Bond films.

SCORES

FILM: 7; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 7; WRITING: 4

7+8+7+4+0=26

FINAL SCORE: 6.5

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~ by johnlink00 on November 4, 2013.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks SKYFALL (2012)”

  1. Very good review! I agree completely.

  2. Thanks!

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