After hearing all the mega hype about Skyfall being the best Bond film ever (hype that I frankly didn’t trust) I finally viewed the film this evening. So, initial thoughts …
The intro action sequence was decent enough, followed by a beautifully captivating title sequence. Cinematography was stylish throughout – no shakey cam rubbish like in Quantum of Solace (my personal choice for worst Bond film ever). Some scenes had particularly well-written dialogue for a Bond film. Javier Bardem is great as always in a fairly well written villain role. And … well, that’s the positives for me.
I like Daniel Craig well enough as an actor in general, but he’s never felt or looked right for me as Bond. Though, in his defence, it’s as much to do with how the character is scripted today. Craig era Bond comes off as a guy with an unspecified chip on his shoulder who vents his frustrations against whatever “bad guys” his bosses choose to unleash him on. And he’s largely humourless. I sorely miss the charm and warmth of the Connery and Moore era.
Fans of the more recent Bond style will undoubtedly claim, as I keep hearing, that the old Bond films are cheesy and unrealistic and not dark enough. My retort to that is that the new Bond films are every bit as silly and unrealistic as the old ones, while attempting to appear “realistic” by being largely humourless and gadgetless. Skyfall seemed to be a film that wanted me to take it seriously, but I couldn’t because it’s crammed with ludicrously implausible plot twists and cheesey action. It’s no more realistic than the average Steven Seagal no brainer shoot-em-up. The big evil enemy is a mastermind hacker and ex-agent who just happens to have endless moles planted everywhere in British intelligence agencies and even the British police force – moles who pop up here, there and everywhere to render self-sacrificing assistance to their mastermind leader. We’re given little indication of how he recruited them or why they are loyal to him. All we know is he just has them on his side. It’s ridiculous and seems to have been lifted from The Dark Knight, but it didn’t work very well in that film either imo. Personally I find the over the top styles of the old Bond film more honest, they are pure fantasy/entertainment and don’t pretend to be anything other. I also feel the same about Batman. Give me the hilarious 1960’s series any day … Yes, you read that right. I want hilarious villains, “heroes” wearing leotard’s with their underwear on the outside and flashes of “pow” and “wham” splashed on the screen whenever someone gets hit. I love that stuff. “Realistic” violence is messy, disgusting and not enjoyable … think Goodfellas, Taxi Driver or a more recent little Australian film called Snowtown.
Then there’s the politics. Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism … is the premise of the new Bond and Batman films, which isn’t helped by the simple fact that the war on terror in the “real” world lost it’s credibility years ago. Terrorism plots aren’t engaging anymore. They feel like either propaganda or lazy writing. How about having Bond oust a bunch of crooked international bankers or thwarting a political coup by a group of business plotters? That would feel more real and relevant.
I spent about 50% of Skyfall twiddling my thumbs and asking myself “When’s it going to get interesting again?” and even worse “When is this going to end?” (it is unnecessarily long). The other 50% I was moderately entertained. Like almost every other Bond film of the last fifteen years this feels like a watch once affair.
On some levels there was a very concerted effort to revamp the series with this film. The centerpiece of the plot is a complicated attempt to kill Bond’s boss, but I found this emotionally unengaging. She’s just one person and is even more humourless and cold than Bond himself – I didn’t care one way or the other about her fate. We also get a glimpse into Bond’s orphanage background, which for me made him come off as a guy who works for British intelligence out of an insecure need to belong to, and serve, something larger than himself without regard as to whether that something is actually worth fighting for.
In summary, I found Skyfall technically excellent and moderately interesting, but only fleetingly entertaining. At the moment I can’t even see myself giving it a second viewing.