Sunday 11 November 2012

Skyfall Movie Review

Best Bond film ever?? Best Bond ever??? Definitely not! But a decent movie it is. Read on to find out more.

I’ve been a Bond fan for as long as I can remember; I probably have my dad to thank for that.  Like a lot of the people online these days, I grew up in the Roger Moore era.  I enjoyed his movies; they were fun, lighthearted, featured some of the best and most sarcastic one-liners and were just an all round good time. 

It wasn’t until I was slightly older that I acquired the entire Bond collection on VHS, then on DVD (in a fancy aluminum briefcase with embossed 007 logo) and maybe if my girlfriend’s reading this, on Blu-ray this Christmas.  It was on VHS that I was introduced properly to Connery, Lazenby, Dalton, Brosnan etc. 

Connery was easily the best.  He had the humour combined with a suave sophistication that the others have yet to match, something that most men aspire towards.  

The unmatchable Connery - just look how cool he is!

Lazenby was actually a pretty good Bond and with Louis Armstrong’s ‘We Have All the Time in the World’ on the soundtrack, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has my respect as a decent Bond movie despite all the negative criticism people usually throw at it. 

Dalton failed in my eyes to be a good Bond.  This is where I see a divide between fans of the Bond movies and fans of the novels.  The Bond character portrayed in the books and in the movies have become two very different and separate entities.  So arguing that Dalton was more faithful to the books means little to me. Connery, who writer Ian Fleming felt wasn’t a good Bond, to me was the best Bond and has become my benchmark for actors assuming the role since.  Dalton was just way too serious and almost completely void of any charisma or charm in the role.

Brosnan was a very good Bond in not so great Bond movies.  Despite being pretty absurd at times, with way too many over the top gadgets and three out of four of his movies featuring a satellite of some sort firing a laser beam down to the earth, I still enjoy watching his movies to this day.

Now comes Daniel Craig’s turn as Bond.  People that know me will know how I was far from happy with the casting.  I was hoping Clive Owen or Gerard Butler with his Connery style vocal mannerisms would get the role.  

Bond actors would often be Bond like in real life and it was these qualities that they would bring to the movies to make the character their own.  Craig to me seemed more policeman than suave superspy.  I tried to look beyond this but nonetheless still didn’t enjoy Casino Royale; it was just trying too hard not to be Bond.  Like Batman Begins, The Amazing Spiderman and other reboots, it seemed unnecessary and was trying too hard to be dark, gritty and ‘real’.  By doing so Bond was becoming just another Hollywood style action movie rather than a film about one of the coolest characters ever conceived, James Bond.  Subsequently Quantum of Solace was deemed forgettable by even Craig fans.  Finally this leads us to Skyfall.

It’s been quite a few years since the last Bond movie and I could feel the withdrawal symptoms setting in.  Craig and I have set aside our differences and now all I wanted was to see a decent Bond movie.  So how was it?  Not bad but not great either.

The movie starts with an exciting chase scene culminating in the apparent demise of Bond following a shocking order given by M.  Bond is presumed dead and life goes on.  We see Bond taking time out from spy duties, drinking and womanizing, as one would imagine Bond would.  However, an attack on MI6, which seems to be specifically targeted at M, brings Bond out of retirement and back to British soil.  In true Bond style, he must travel around the world via exotic locales to eventually track down our villain, Javier Bardem as Silva, an outrageous and over the top bad guy who’s hell bent on getting revenge on M.

I did enjoy Skyfall probably more than Craig’s other outings as Bond but it still lacked some unquantifiable element that stopped my mind from accepting it as a true Bond movie.  It wasn’t so much Craig but the movie itself.  The first half is very entertaining and I found myself enjoying Bond’s exploits in Shanghai and Macau but the latter part of the movie in Scotland seemed to lose its identity.  So maybe the problem isn’t Craig but rather the material he has been given to work with and the direction the franchise is being taken in.

Watching Dr. No after watching Skyfall it’s easy to see how less is more.  You don’t need huge explosions and set pieces to make a great Bond movie; you need a great Bond to have a great Bond movie. 

I found it interesting that for a movie that tries so hard to be modern and disassociate itself from previous Bond movies, the most memorable moments are those that hark back to Bond’s history; the return of Q, the return of gadgets, the vodka martinis, the Aston Martin, the womanizing, Miss Moneypenny.  I can see things going full circle and eventually returning to how Bond movies were.  Until then, Skyfall is a reasonable stop over.

Rating 3.5/5


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