Monday, November 12, 2012


Did you see Skyfall this past weekend?  Everyone else did.  Did you like it?  Everyone else did.  I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  In fact this may be my favorite non-Connery Bond film ever.  Really it could be the best one ever but I love nostalgia too much to give the crown to anyone but Connery.

As I type this I have the new Adele song from Skyfall stuck in my head.  Sadly I don't know the song well enough to Cartman my way through it so I just keep hearing her sing the word "skyfall" over and over.  This has absolutely nothing to do with anything and I have no idea why I shared this with you but now you know.

So the movie...I really, really enjoyed it.  Director Sam Mendes and writers Purvis, Wade and Logan were able to do something that creative types rarely achieve...a nod to the past while staying current.  Skyfall was nostalgic while also being completely modern.  Sure there were a few meta moments with heavy winks to Bond movies and gadgets from the past but it was more than that.  The story itself focused on how intelligence is best handled when an entire nation or even the world is at stake.  Is the intelligence system of the past (aka the Tinker, Tailor way of doing things by talking to someone to get information) totally outdated?  Is the future really just spying on each other via technology and controlling people with a few strokes on a keyboard?  Doesn't this make our villains kinda lazy? Sure, they've always hired henchmen to do the bulk of the wet-work but a lot of them enlightened Bond as to their plan while aiming a laser at his junk.  That's not what happened in Skyfall and I couldn't be happier about it.

I think what I liked best was that it was clever without having an over-worked plot.  It was slightly funny but not at all silly.  Too many times we see the formula of the villain disclosing his whole plan to the good guy and then leaving the room so the good guy has a chance to escape and save the day.  This wasn't the case in Skyfall.  There wasn't some big plan that Bond was trying to stop.  He and the folks at MI6 were just trying to stop a really bad guy with a personal axe to grind. 

Daniel Craig, as James Bond, is very different from the guys before him.  There's no attempt at being overtly charming.  He's got a dry wit without being punny.  There are folks who don't care for Craig as Bond and it could be because he's something we've not seen before.  He's made Bond kind of human and not the death-defying womanizer of the past.  This Bond fell in love with a woman (Vesper Lynd), lost her and lost some of himself as well in Casino Royale.  Sure there have been other women but we've never really seen that kind of emotion from other Bonds.  Craig's Bond also showed his humanity in Skyfall, wihich may have unnerved the folks who want their Bonds to be unbreakable.  Ok, yes, he does defy death but he's worse off for it. Bond is older, slower and physically unfit (though looks totally fit in his swim trunks).  This is not a Bond who can get shot and keep going at full speed.  And that's why I like this Bond.  He's an everyman who can believably handle himself in a fight. From what I've heard about the Ian Fleming novels, which I'll read someday, that's what he had in mind.     

The villain in Skyfall, Silva, played by Javier Bardem, is a creepy pscyhopath with an Oedipal complex for M.  Bardem was a little too over the top for me but did a good job. He was able to topple governments from his computer but he couldn't be bothered to take on Bond in a fight, which was kind of interesting..  Bardem was once again saddled with a bizarre wig.  It may be the only thing I didn't like about the movie.  I can't tell you much about Silva without revealing plot points but I liked that he didn't have some big nefarious plot that Bond was required to stop in order to save the world.  He was just your average psychopath able to do very bad things to lots and lots of people. As I said earlier, Silva had a personal axe to grind with M and saw Bond as a victim, which was kind of odd for a Bond story but in a good way.

The supporting cast was fabulous, as expected.  Ralph Fiennes as Minister Gareth Mallory, Dame Judi Dench as M, and Ben Wishaw as the new Q were all fantastic.  Also good were Naomie Harris as Eve (her last name is a surprise) and  Berenice Marlohe as Severine, the woman caught between Bond and Silva.  I wasn't sure about her at first (she kind of overplayed her character's fear) but thought she did well overall..
"Hello, Alisa.  Do you enjoy tapas? I'd love to take you for some pulpo a galego tonight."
I was pleased with everything else, especially the locations in Shanghai, Macau and Scotland.  The pacing was good.  The action was fun.  And I really cared about what happened with the characters.

I'm going to see this at least one more time in the theater.  I hope we're in for at least a few more Bond films with Craig. I couldn't be happier with him and with these specific writers as well.  This is how you want to see a franchise handled.

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