Dir: Sam Mendes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes
Great films that are similar: Dr. No, Goldfinger, Die Hard
And, so, the saga continues...
Yes, the 23rd Bond film was more of the same. After 50 years, the old sleuth has become rather predictable. Roger Moore returns for 87th time as the eponymous hero, taking on another hammy, racial-stereotype of a villain who wants to blow up the Sun or something. Bond kills much fitter men with a single karate chop, sleeps with a 20 year old named Dr. Lucious Thighs (or some crap), and in the end he escapes an implausibly elaborate death scene only to ride off into the sunset in a custom made Union-Jack spaceship or some such...
|Another day at the office...|
Yup, seeing Skyfall was a real first. In spite of 22 previous outings, James Bond appears in this film to be an actual human character for the first time. Where once we had a gawking, wise-cracking characture, we now have a far more 21st century incarnation. Ever wonderwed what it would be like to see Bond shot, ravaged by age, occasionally helpless, often outmatched, and weighed down by his own indignation?
Well, look no further; Skyfall affords you that opportunity...
Oh, and Bond actually cries in this one...
Now, as a child I was captivated by the Bond character. The quips, the cars, the panache. I even collected the series on vhs back in the jolly old 1990s. But things change, sometimes even drastically. You see, I don't think it is a secret at this point that Bond got stale as the years rolled by. Roger Moore's "horses-arse" gadget was farcical, as was Pierce Brosnan's cringe-inducing attempt to cash in on the extreme sports fad through a wind-surfing sequence in Die Another Day. Yes, come 2003 I was beginning to fear that Bond wouldn't live long enough to die another day...
|Roger Moore?! lol!|
This is precisely why Skyfall is so refreshing. With this installment, what needs to be turned on its head is, whilst not losing that distinct whiff of vintage Bond that must, surely, never be lost completely.
Essentially, the film endures simply because it is not afraid to be ugly. The opening scene (along with many others) offers legitimate surprises to the viewer. Longer, grittier sequences like a subway chase scene and a gunfight in a courtroom are not exactly "Bond-chic" but are exceptionally well put together. There is, in other words, real artistry to the direction of this one- not just camp pastiche.
Then, there are the characters. Daniel Craig is fantastic as an initially scruffy Bond that struggles constantly to settle into the job at his age. The shocking revelations regarding his early years are handled with striking cinematic elegance and restraint.
|It's all about restraint...|
Furthermore, Judi Dench's M has never been so beautifully captured, she is both noble and stubborn, both righteous and, at times, morally questionable.
And, of course, there is Javier Bardem (surely the world's greatest bad-guy actor?!) as the demented villain Silva. Silva's character may be a little too reminiscent of Heath Ledger's Joker for some, but his quirks, ostentations, and even his flamboyant sexuality are both vintage Bond and something new all at once. He is a joy to behold, his introductory scene is mesmerizing.
Of course, there are still the gloriously silly moments of old. There is a sexually charged shaving scene, and a sequence in an Asian casino in which a man gets eaten by a lizard (seriously). Nevertheless, you should try this Bond on for size. This time, when the old Aston Martin is unveiled and the familiar score kicks in, you have a Bond that you can actually care for as a character, arguably for the first time in 50 years. I wonder what Ulrich Goldfinger would make of all this....?
However, I do hope that Q has some more gadgets next time....
|Why are exploding pens passe?!|