Obsolete? Not So Much… – A Skyfall Review
STARRING: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
STUDIOS: Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Eon Productions, Danjaq LLC
RUN-TIME: 143 min
RELEASED: November 9, 2012
By Seth Miller
Staff Writer, Part-Time Ninja
Hello Primary Ignition readers! After an extended sabbatical, I have returned. I can’t really divulge the details of where I have been, but the following things are involved: gasoline, long working hours, the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, hibachi and those x-ray glasses from the back of old comic books…
Today though, I am covering the next film in the James Bond series, a series that I love and am very happy to see the latest film be a strong addition to, Skyfall. A mission in Turkey goes wrong; a hard drive with the identity of every MI6 agent is stolen and Bond (Daniel Craig) is shot in the chase to get it back. Presumed dead, he drinks and pops pills to cope, until a bombing at MI6 headquarters forces him back into action to figure out who is behind the attack.
I’m just going to get straight to the point; I loved this movie. Casino Royale was great and Quantum of Solace was okay, but Skyfall includes everything that was good in the last three films while adding to it. The emotional story of Bond and Judi Dench’s M has been tried in some small ways before, but had never really been developed to this extent. Skyfall takes this concept and expands it into a maternal relationship that exists between Bond, whose backstory in the previous films has been that of an orphan, and M; the actions taken by both of them in the film has an emotional heft that has been missing from other installments. That relationship forms the emotional core of this film and is used to take a deeper, but not excessive look in Bond’s past. It helps carry the audience through the movie instead of big set pieces and plot about another madman trying to take over the world.
The film also brings to the forefront an idea that has been kicked around for a while; is Bond still relevant in this world Throughout the movie Bond and M are being treated like obsolete tools for a job that involves more technology and less fieldwork. These are not just attacks on their job. They’re attacks on Bond and M, and the way they have protected the country they sacrificed so much for, which now deems them unfit to serve. It meshes well with the story and addresses something critics and audiences have pondered for some time.
Director Sam Mendes has stated before how much he’s wanted to do a Bond film, and I am glad that he got his shot. He obviously can do a great job with the more subdued scenes that set up and carry the story. But he also crafts some great action scenes that are big but never feel over the top. He knows how to shoot in the exotic locales that are a staple of the franchise, and setting up the scenes that serve as our introduction to first time characters. He is also a Bond fanboy, and great at including what we love from 007 without overtly winking at the audience.
There really only two things that I have against the film. The run-time feels a few minutes too long. It starts to drag a tiny bit toward the end. Javier Bardem’s role as the villain Silva starts off well. But by the end what was once over the top becomes truly unhinged and ridiculous at the very end. In the past, an over the top performance has been a prerequisite for some of the best Bond villains, but it’s tricky to pull off without seeming like a joke rather than a threat.
I don’t know if this is my all-time favorite Bond film, but Skyfall is definitely going to be one a favorites for a very long time.
Front page image from rottentomatoes.com. Image 1 from metro.co.uk. Image 2 from amny.com.
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