Now Showing this week is the latest outing of legendary MI6 agent James Bond which is entitled Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. Heralded as the greatest Bond film of all time (if my Facebook news feed is to be believed), Skyfall revolves around MI6 losing a top secret list of undercover NATO agents to an unknown enemy, and a recently wounded Bond (Daniel Craig) must A. recover the list before all the agents on it are put in danger and B. find the person responsible.
I find myself having to disagree with all the manic praise that has been surfacing all over my Facebook feed, and from film critics across the world; Skyfall is not the best Bond film ever. For me personally, I give that award to Casino Royale because I loved how Royale stepped away from the cheesiness of the classic Bond films and went for a more grounded and gritty approach. And as for Daniel Craig as the man himself, his portrayal of the character was a refreshing move away from the sexy, womanising Bond and to a Bond who actually looked like he could be doing all the things he is doing. He looks like he has been in a fight or two! Craig achieved this, while still having some charm about him so that the womanising wouldn’t go completely out the window and this I found to be the best iteration of the character I had seen! And in Skyfall, this is all still present so I commend Craig on his performance once again.
Now, I liked Skyfall. If I have to put it simply, I did enjoy it. For starters, I haven’t seen an action movie like this in a long time. Bond films have always been good with their action by having it be real action (for the most part) and not CGI. There is just something about a real explosion that a CGI one can never hope to match, and there is a particular one in Skyfall towards the finale that actually shook the cinema. If anything, that is an experience one cannot pass up! In fact, one should not pass up the first three quarters of Skyfall. The script is punchy and witty, the action is intense, the plot is gripping and the Bond girls are sexy; it is an excellent combination.
Once the film passes that three quarter mark, it starts to tread water a little. I won’t give away details, but suffice to say it seemed that the film’s genre shifted from a spy thriller into a “last stand” kind of action movie. And the shift occurs right after it felt like the film had peaked! The action had reached it’s peak, the story was heading towards the finish (or at least it seemed like it) and then it slows down again, building up to a final stand that felt weirdly out of character. I don’t know, I was just bored through the final act (except for the explosion I mentioned before, obviously!). What’s more, the final act was when the film also made a blunder that I am finding very hard to forgive it for: self referencing. Skyfall becomes a Bond film that is making references to Bond films! It goes beyond little twists on the established conventions (ala “does it look like I give a damn?!” in Casino Royale) and just blatantly says “Oh look, here’s the classic Aston Martin car!”. The film also contains a groan worthy character reveal at the end to rival the “Robin” fiasco of The Dark Knight Rises; it was just unnecessary and came across as stupid. But this only really happened in the final quarter, the earlier sections were reference free so I have no idea what happened in the writers room!
Performance wise, the cast did very well. I already commended Craig on his Bond, but it was worth mentioning again. Judi Dench as M was enjoyable as always, especially with her changing it up by adding a little vulnerability into the mix. The supporting cast including Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris were good as well, they worked how they needed to. The one performance I was really looking forward to was that of Javier Bardem as the villain Silva. I did walk away a little disappointed, but not overly so. His villain was (for lack of a better term) very camp, and for a villain that can work. Bardem was always treading a very fine line between being intimidating and silly, and he spent most of his time on the former side but occasionally tripped into the latter, and those stumbles didn’t work. In a nutshell, he brought back some of that classic Bond cheese that I’m no overly fond of.
Skyfall is definitely a movie to go see, especially for Bond fans. My gripes aside, I had a lot of fun watching it and, as I said before, that one explosion is not to be missed! Skyfall definitely makes up for the forgettable experience that was the previous Quantum of Solace, and I look forward to the next Bond film so as it may be able to make up for the filmmakers decision to make Q a hipster!
See you next time!