There are certain icons of pop culture who permeated the collective consciousness at every level of society, especially those characters who have jumped from page to screen. One concrete example of this is Sherlock Holmes, famed detective of Scotland Yard made famous by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Ian Fleming’s creation of super-spy-love-machine-extraordinaire James Bond, aka Agent 007, is another.
For decades, James Bond movies have captured the hearts of men and women across the globe as a figure of the golden age of espionage and intrigue, a man who dressed in a tuxedo, carried a gun, and never had his martinis stirred. Played by many of the most prolific actors in all of cinematic history, including the great Sean Connery, there’s no short supply for quality tales of sex, guns, and global peril for the big screen. But many old school fans of the genre are not as pleased with the recent Daniel Craig series of movies which have come out in the last few years, for lacking that particular 007 touch. But now that the latest film has just hit theaters, what will the reaction be?
Let’s take a look at Skyfall.
So let me make this statement first off – I am not a Bond fan. I’ve seen one film of every incarnation of the character. While I will admit that the movies were entertaining, I never thought they were all that amazing. This is the first of the Daniel Craig films I’ve seen and thus I can’t make a commentary about this film as compared to the other two. However I will be analyzing the film as a stand alone, only on its own merits. I will not be divulging the plot because, for God’s sake, it’s a spy movie. It’s no fun if you already know what’s going to happen!
The broadest plot synopsis I can give is that Bond must save MI6 from the threat of a cyber terrorist while he proves he’s not too old for the spying game. That’s about as spoiler free as I can get, so you’ll just have to see the film yourself if you want to know what goes down. What I will say that it has one of the most beautiful opening sequences paired with its theme that I have seen in a very long time. This whole film looks and sounds great – Sam Mendes (the director) really has a fantastic eye for these kinds of films.
The action is clear, concise, and realistic. And, mercifully, the fight scenes only last a few minutes, ten at the most. Long, drawn out battle sequences work best for war films, not spy flicks. The pacing feels a little rushed in terms of how many actions go down in such a short period of time, but it never detracted from the enjoyment of the film. The wardrobe choices are classic Bond, which should be no issue when tuxedos are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. But I do like when the film ends up in a more rustic local (i.e. Scotland, don’t ask how) there’s no out-of-place hip decor or swanky suits, yet still feels like a spy epic, even if an older Daniel Craig comes off looking more like grumpy old man 007.
Personally, I’ve never been crazy about Daniel Craig as James Bond. I’ve got nothing against him or his work, he just never seemed to pull off the same finesse that, say, Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan could. He always seemed kind of constipated in what little I have seen of Casino Royale. In the film, he’s pretty good, maybe even great (again, not a Bond fan, so I don’t know how high the bar is) but he gets overtaken by the rest of film, where he’s more of a force in the movie rather than the star. Judi Dench is Judi Dench, and if you don’t know what that means, then I am sad for you. Naomi Harris is a lot of fun, but is ultimately wasted in this film.
The one who outshines the rest is Javier Bardem, This is opposite of the Craig dilemma for me – I hate Bardem. I think he’s a mediocre actor, save for in No Country for Old Men and just generally don’t like other films he’s in. I’m not saying that he’s at his prime in this film, but he just fills the screen so well with his portrayal of “Mister Silver”. He’s one of the most interesting Bond villains I’ve encountered, and he plays the crazed, tortured man with a lot of grace and dignity, always keeping the character from becoming a bland, shallow caricature of a maniac. Perhaps it’s because of Bardem’s performance that Craig’s feels more lackluster, though that’s no excuse. I didn’t want to like him, but I found nothing bad to say about his role or his delivery.
One of Skyfall‘s more minute issues is how the dialogue is a little stiff and unrealistic at times. Personally, I’ll leave it up to rush revisions, or an oversight on the part of the screen writers, especially because it didn’t bother me in the initial walk through, just sort of as an after thought. The movie also didn’t leave much of a lasting impact in terms of plot or message (if there was a message, which I’m guessing would be old people can still be good spies?), so I left the theater feeling a little unaffected by what I had seen. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with the next film in the series now that there have been some cast changes and a promise of a sequel.
In the end, Skyfall, while technically well done, left me feeling nothing. It was an entertaining action film, and a rather good Bond movie, but there was nothing more than that there for me. If you’re a Bond fan, nothing I could say would deter you from seeing the film. If you’re just in it for the action and adventure, don’t go in expecting an all-out barrage like the Die Hard films. It’s a solid balance of wit and action, so if you’re looking for a smart thriller to stave off boredom this Thanksgiving, this is the film I’d recommend.
– Well shot and directed.
– Good plot.
– Strong acting.
– Some poor spots of dialogue.
– Pacing seems a little off.