Let me start off by saying I have grown up watching Bond films my whole life. The first ever in a theater was, A View to Kill. At the time Roger Moore was the first cool British person I ever saw. Prior to that I was only exposed to Mary Poppins and the like. Along with all the customary gadgets you expect, it also had the quintessential henchman in Grace Jones. She honestly scared the shit out of me. And don’t get me started on her in Conan.
My first ever boner-killer
Since that day I watched every Bond movie that was ever made and played every video game no matter how good or bad they were. That being said, I am not biased when it comes to quality. I know shit when I see it, and Skyfall is by far not a shitty movie.
When Daniel Craig was first cast to play James Bond I thought it was a great move. Seeing him in previous films like Layercake showed me he had incredible screen presence and could do both dramatic and action scenes. I had no problem with a blonde Bond either. However, I was honestly blown away by his first franchise appearance in Casino Royale. Rebooting the series was a great move, and I think it was well suited to introduce Bond to a newer audience.
The movie starts off with a great opening action scene, which is a must in any Bond film. Skyfall got a lot of things right, but this maybe was their biggest. Anytime you get the audience to clap is a good sign. I couldn’t help but make the comparison to You Only Live Twice. A movie that Sean Connery came back to do during Roger Moore’s run(something that is unheard of today). In both movies an aging James Bond is presumably killed in the opening scene only to come back with a vengeance. However, the whole surprise I’m not dead after getting shot and falling head first off a high bridge into water is a little too unbelievable even for a Bond film. But bond films have always had a little hokeyness. It’s the charm of the main character and what makes him great.
And then this bitch cries about something
From there the movie slows down a bit. You get some espionage here and there and a big explosion. Then after the not so well placed alcohol advertisements about alcoholism bond comes back. He comes back as a broken old man. I mean he must have aged twenty years. For the Queen’s sake he has a grey beard! It’s actually a new take that I end up liking. You see a man that not only in the first twenty plus movies was a complete badass, but now he has doubt and is frustrated by his handicap. Even when lasers are pointed at his nuts Bond has always kept his cool. It was a surprising turn for a character that has never seemed soft.
This is where Daniel Craig’s acting skills were displayed so well. Acting throughout Skyfall was great. The villain played by a memorable Javier Bardem was a good counterpoint and helped the plot along nicely once he finally appeared half way through the film. There is a memorable scene with him and Craig that’s homoerotic, but not in a shock the audience way.
In fact the only character I had trouble watching was Judi Dench, who reprized her role as M. I don’t know if it was just me, but I couldn’t get past her teeth. I know the British stereotype could be said here, but its bad. Horror movie zombie bad. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a very good actress. But having to look at that grill on the big screen took me out of the movie every time.
Ugly wins Oscars apparently
Aside from Dench’s goblin teeth my biggest gripe with Skyfall is the exclusion of the infamous gadgets. The new Q, played by hipster looking Ben Whishaw, is an interesting take on the character. He’s definitely the youngest ever to play the part, and how he explains why they no longer make gadgets is viable. Come on though, contemporary espionage may mostly be fought online, but gadgets is what inspired all the kids over the last fifty years to want to be a spy. Oh, a gun that only Bond can shoot and a radio transmitter? That’s fucking bullshit. Why not just take the dinosaurs out of Jurassic Park? It’s great that they wanted to create a more viable plot and more rounded characters, but taking out the gadgets was a misstep. Going for an artsy-fartsy academy award winner is great and all, but at what expense?
Overall, Skyfall is a good film. It’s entertaining and the characters are fairly deep. However, it’s not a true Bond film. There are moments that are reminiscent like the banging of hot chicks and guys’ faces exploding, but Bond is more Jason Bourne than misogynistic super-spy. In fact, the most gadgets you see come from a prop that’s actually an older Bond car that true fans will love. And even though those moments are few and far between it’s enough to attain the essence of the mythological character James Bond.
For the younger audiences and non-fans it’s a refreshing breath that will definitely bring them back for more. Skyfall is another notch on the belt buckle of the twentieth century Hercules. This true British genre film is a huge part of American folk lore, and through it all he’s still the suave, ass-kicking, risk-taker we all end up growing to love. I give Skyfall four out of five martinis.