Skyfall Review

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Like many others, I grew up with the James Bond franchise, and to some extent, I considered it a rite of passage to seeing my first glorious gun barrel sequence. In contrast to many other franchises though, many people have lost interest in whether or not the latest movie lives up to any preconceived notions, because if it turns out to be lackluster, you can always wait for the next one as inevitably as the fucking tides.

So Skyfall, then. Picking up where Quantum of Solace left off, director Sam Mendez takes his shot at the Bond franchise with admirable gusto, incorporating much of the tight action sequences and sprawling set pieces that the re-envisioned series has been praised for. Daniel Craig returns once again as the legendary MI6 agent, taking on the role with his laudable swagger and undeniable charm, cementing his place in the franchise as one of the most popular Bonds to date. Series veteran Judi Dench returns as M (as if the continuity wasn’t fucked up enough, considering her appearance as M in GoldenEye in 1995, eleven years before the series rebooted with Casino Royale) who delivers and commendable performance, but admittedly stops short of extraordinary and is perhaps overshadowed by Craig. The baddie this time around, disgraced former MI6 agent Raoul Silvia,  is played by Javier Bardem – winner of the Academy Award for best supporting actor for his role as Anton Chigurh the the Cohen Brothers classic No Country for Old Men. Bardem’s performance was the highlight of the affair, bringing to the table an engaging and complex villain.

I can’t help but feel, however, that Mendez was intentionally ripping off Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight in his portrayal of Silvia as a psychotic murderer, indifferent to the consequences of his actions, in the same vein as Heath Ledger’s Joker. Even the sequence when Silvia is disguised as a police officer is eerily reminiscent of some of the more pulse pounding moments from The Dark Knight. I’m willing to write this one off as a coincidence because of Bardem’s excellent performance, but niggling doubts cannot be held off for long.

In terms of cinematography and style, Mendez brings his own unique flair to the Bond universe while still maintaining a respectable consistency and continuity with the previous films. I feel as though, if given free reign and not forced to conform to an established style, Mendez’s skill could have produced something magnificent. As it stands, Skyfall’s direction is competent yet unremarkable, a phrase which I employ with much chagrin- as I see so much potential- but is nevertheless the most accurate description I have arrived at.

On the other hand, it was refreshing to see Bond’s character receive a more personal touch through his relationship with M. In that respect, the film excelled, as It worked well within the context of Royale and Solace. Had the two previous films not already established a certain relationship between Bond and M, and elaborated on Bond’s connection to MI6 as a lone wolf susceptible to self destruction and delusion, his previous misconduct, and to a lesser extent his early life, I believe the story would have floundered and the audience would have been left with a barebones action flick with an unnecessarily well developed antagonist. Of course, simply stamping the 007 brand onto the production might have had something to do with it’s widespread success…

Now, I’ve taken serious umbrage with the franchise’s return to the old school 1960’s-1970’s roots. In a sense, I believe it betrays a large part of what the new Bond is supposed to be about, namely bureaucracy’s ongoing war with far reaching global terrorism and the implications of lone actors on a global stage in the post-Soviet era and sweet Jesus, I don’t believe that I could be any more pretentious right now. Seriously though, I felt cheated when Eve introduced herself as ‘Moneypenny’ and Bond walked into and exact replica of the MI6 offices as in the first 007 films. I was left wondering “Is this what we’re in for now? Perpetual rehashing of old ground now that the franchise has come full circle?”

The Bond franchise has been through a lot, and has shown that it can bounce back from embarrassment. I remain cautiously optimistic that it can show us something new in Bond 24 and 25, which Daniel Craig has already signed on for. If you’re a Bond fan, you’ve probably already seen it twice. If you’re not, I can still squeeze out a recommendation in light of my perceived disappointments.

Rating 3.75 out of 5

PS: Did anyone else think that Silvia would end up being the new Jaws when he unhinged his jaw in front of M in the holding cell?

PPS: I’d like to apologize to our followers for going silent for a while. The holidays are stressful for everyone, no?

PPPS: Which is your favorite Bond film and/or who played 007 the best? Leave a comment!

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14 thoughts on “Skyfall Review

  1. ckckred November 29, 2012 / 2:45 am

    Great review, this has been one of my favorite films thus far this year. For your question, my favorite Bond film is Goldfinger.

  2. Albert Cantu November 29, 2012 / 2:51 am

    Thanks a lot! Goldfinger is a classic.
    Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
    Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!

  3. greatmartin November 29, 2012 / 3:54 am

    See my review–I am not an ‘action’ fan but this was good–what I love is how EVERYONE is avoiding talking about the homosexual overtones in the scene between Bond and Silva and the former suggesting he’s ‘been there, done that’–I would understand if this was a ‘spoiler’ but it isn’t–has nothing to do with the film and I don’t give spoilers.

    • Albert Cantu November 29, 2012 / 6:15 am

      Well Hell, I can tell you my thoughts on the subject:
      Historically, in many mediums including both cinema and literature, when a character needs to be described as inherently bad, reference is often made to their sexuality in terms of being abnormal (i.e homosexual) so that the audience understands that there is a fundamental deviation in the pathology of that character. In Elmore Leonard’s novel, ‘Stick,’ for example, a minor male character is described as having feminine features and tendencies and is a suspected homosexual. This character is supposed to jump out at the audience, because he’s not only a criminal, but also made to appear strange and alien to the audience, naturally inspiring discomfort. In Skyfall, Silvia essentially acts as the embodiment of emasculation in the form of homosexual flirtation; an inherent threat to one’s manhood, if you will. When Bond states that he may have ‘been there, done that’ as you put it, he destroys Silvia’s ploy at this attempted psychological warfare by implying that homosexual relations are not deviant and are no less natural that heterosexual relationships, as evidenced by Bond’s retention of his manhood, moxie, sense of self, or whatever you’d like to call it. When his initial attempt at psychologically intimidating Bond fails, Silvia switches tactics and instead targets 007’s relationship with M.

      • greatmartin November 29, 2012 / 3:24 pm

        I know all that Albert–being gay I am very aware of gays as villains–but I was talking about NOT a single critic has even referred to it which I find odd!

      • Albert Cantu November 29, 2012 / 4:02 pm

        I didn’t talk about it in the main review becauseI didn’t find it was germane to my overall opinion of the film. I guess I mistook your comment as a challenge.

  4. reviewedbymarkleonard November 29, 2012 / 5:32 am

    Nice observations. Be sure to check out my review if you get a moment. Btw, “Goldfinger” and Connery are the kings, but Craig is giving Sean a run for his money! ML

  5. Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop November 29, 2012 / 9:07 am

    Nice review! I wouldn’t say this is a rehashing of old ideas or anything, I just think that because this is the 50th anniversary of Bond, they have paid homage to plenty of past Bond films. The Jaws/Silva comparison, the Aston Martin, etc. I also think this is one of the best looking Bond films we’ve had, the cinematography is brilliant.

    • Albert Cantu November 29, 2012 / 3:57 pm

      I didn’t even think about it being the 50th anniversary. You might have something there actually…
      I wasn’t so worried about rehashing old ground in Skyfall, but I’m not so sure about the next few movies. Hopefully they’ll be able to keep things fresh.

  6. michaelanson November 29, 2012 / 5:05 pm

    I have to disagree with your review.

    To me, this was the most well-conceived Bond film ever, with Daniel Craig solidifying his popularity as the best Bond (although I realize most people will choose the original Bond, Sean Connery). Skyfall brought back a lot of the humor from the early Bond films which, combined with Daniel Craig’s intensity, makes for a memorable movie-going experience.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, Javier Bardem’s character takes a cue from the Joker in the Dark Knight, but he stamps his villainous role with a unique creepiness–case in point, his overt homosexual overtures to Bond who pluckily replies, “What makes you think it’s my first time?”

    Casino Royale, Craig’s first Bond adventure, rocketed me into the fourth dimension, but Quantum of Solace fell completely flat, partially, I have heard, because of the Hollywood Writers’ Guild strike. (They filmed, I believe, without having a complete script).

    One little niggling point, and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, your review has several grammatical errors.

    Michael
    http://www.michaelanson.wordpress.com

    • Albert Cantu November 29, 2012 / 5:11 pm
  7. John S. November 29, 2012 / 9:35 pm

    Good review. Something that bothered me about this movie was the fact that Bond is portrayed as old. The end of the film, timeline wise, would line up right before Dr. No.
    I’m looking forward to Ralph Fiennes as M, though I was a bit skeptical that he’d double cross Bond in this one.
    My favorite is a toss up between From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. Connery was great but Craig has a lot of potential.

  8. bck1402 December 1, 2012 / 5:00 pm

    By reaching the end they way they did in Skyfall, it does bring together all the elements of what many people might feel as the complete world of James Bond. The sense of returning to the classics is, I think, meant to give it a sense of timelessness rather than the high tech offices that we’ve seen in the last two outings. Technology moves so fast that the touchscreen walls might date the franchise quite a bit in the long run.
    Craig does make a solid James Bond, although I do feel that he’s taking the cue started by Timothy Dalton, who never really had the chance to fully stretch his legs as Bond.
    You can find my thoughts on my Review Links page.

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