The latest 007 flick Skyfall hit theaters last weekend, with Daniel Craig reprising his role as James Bond. With stellar reviews across the board, is this the best Bond ever? Or at least in our generation?
A secret list of every undercover agent has been stolen. The thief threatens to release names on a daily basis until their demands are met. James Bond is believed dead and may be the only agent able to save the day. The journey takes us on an interesting story through Bond’s past, unlike most Bond films which choose to leave his past a mystery.
The action is top notch, highlighted by an incredible opening sequence on the top of a train, and ending with an epic finale involving exploding houses, ice-covered lakes, and secret underground tunnels. It’s varied enough to bring us new thrills but keeps it relatively simple. Craig plays the role naturally, feeling comfortable throughout. Newcomers Ralph Fiennes and Ben Whishaw join the cast. Whishaw doesn’t do anything special but Fiennes has a complexity that will likely contribute more to future Bond films.
In terms of discussing Bond’s past, it was risky. He’s a man of mystery, so going back and looking at his past dissolves some of that mystique. I thought it paid off though, with an intriguing look at the life of an orphan, how he ended up that way, and why being an orphan is beneficial when choosing field agents. Some interesting stuff at play here.
Javier Bardem stars as the new villian Silva, who is also a former agent who is trying to exact revenge on M (Judi Dench) who used him and then tossed him aside. He is fantastic, though the blond locks are a bit distracting.
I also absolutely loved the opening sequence with Adele’s “Skyfall.” The song is gorgeous but the graphics and visuals are especially stunning. They use key moments from the film but in a way that you don’t even realize they’re potential spoilers. It was enthralling and engaging and mesmerizing.
What didn’t work?
While Craig was a natural, it didn’t seem like he was trying too hard. Let me burst your dreams, if you haven’t already heard this. Craig doesn’t want to be Bond. He hasn’t for awhile. He tells Rolling Stone here that “I’ve been trying to get out of this from the very moment I got into it.” His lack of excitement translates to the screen. He’s got two more films in his contract and they’ve been making enough money that we’ll likely see those two sequels sooner rather than later.
I also felt like Whishaw as the new Quartermaster (aka Q) was vastly underused. After seeing him in Cloud Atlas (review here), he has incredible potential but the scenes they gave him were short and uneventful.
I felt like this movie was a case of high expectations working against it for me. Casino Royale is incredible and this movie doesn’t meet that level.
Also… there’s a komodo dragon. It’s a laughable fight scene with some horrible CGI work.
The movie is fun. The action is intense but Craig phones it in, while Bardem does an outstanding job at being a memorable villain. The delve into Bond’s past is interesting but the movie is about 30 minutes too long. A good movie but not “the best Bond film ever.” Or even recently. Still good though. Keep your expectations manageable.