November 12, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

 The James Bond franchise is now fifty-years old. It is one of the few,,if not only, ongoing franchises that is older than yours truly. I cannot claim any deep or insightful knowledge into the series, but there is definitely something to be said for its ability to endure. It continually reinvents itself simultaneously providing an escape from day today drudgery and holding up a mirror to the current issues of the time. Through it all, it continues to maintain some semblance of the formula that it has come to use so well over the decades.

When it comes to a James Bond movies, you know, more or less, what to expect. The thin about it is how they are used and of the creative types involved can make it seem new and fresh. In 2006, after a four year break following Do Another Day, Daniel Craig took over the iconic roll from Pierce Brosnan. The resulting movie, Casino Royale (coincidentally directed by the same man who started Brosnan's run with the excellent GoldenEye, Martin Campbell), was an excellent new start for the character. It updated him for the new millennium, added a little real world grit, yet still retained the familiar elements we all know and love.

We are know six years removed from the introduction of the new Bond and onto his third outing. I guess third times the charm as this movie is bigger, better, bolder, and perhaps a touch more familiar than they have been in years. This 23rd film in the official run of the series feels wry much like one of the classics, yet has a certain infusion of genuine emotion and character that is not seen all that often at this level. It is a fusion of the current run of grittier superhero tales (specifically Nolan's Batman run) and post-Bourne revisionist spy tale. The result is something familiar, easy enough to digest, but still offers a complexity worth spending some time with on the big screen.

Skyfall is a spectacularly thrilling movie. This one has the girls, the globe trotting, he chases, the fights, and the shootouts that we have come to expect. There is nothing I can really add to that.

What I found to be more interesting is how Skyfall looks at the current place of the spy in a world that has gone high tech, where much more stock is placed on information gathering in central locations using modern technological advances than is placed on what a single person can do traveling around to gather intel. This is all shown through the expanded role that M (Judi Dench) has here, especially as see is the subject of a public hearing where she essentially has to defend MI6 and its role in the changing world.

The other aspect that I like so much is how personal the film gets. There is a lot of interesting stuff that comes up about Bond's past, his childhood, and his relationship with M. This material brings some nice heft to the proceedings, it gives Judi Dench something to do, making use of her considerable talents. On top of that, Daniel Craig has the chops to make Bond more than just a super spy. There is a lot going on behind their eyes and that helps elevate this beyond your typical spy/action yarn.

The performances are all solid. Daniel Craig has really stepped into the character and has become Bond. I love his demeanor, his ability to come with a nice quip, not to mention his finely homely acting ability. Judi Dench? We all know what she can do and she has some room to show it here. Then there is Javier Bardem, what can be said? The guy was born to play psychopaths. Between Anton Chigurrh of No Country for Old Men and Silva in Skyfall, you have a pair of spectacular crazies. His Silva is brilliant, scary, and ever so theatrical.

Director Sam Mendes and writers Neil Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan have delivered a Bond hat is at once classic and modern. It has the elements that make it feel like classic Connery-era while also feeling at home in today's cinematic landscape.

Skyfall certainly has elements that mirror other recent films, but that is sort of the beauty of it. I am not sure I can explain it, but there is something about the way the film is crafted from start to finish then at feeds off the familiar to build something else. It may not really say anything about society or the human condition, but within its own universe it has plenty to say on what is wedged and who isn't, what is important and what isn't, while also just being a hell of a lot of fun.

Highly Recommended.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment