This Time, It's Personal

Skyfall Is a Beautiful Movie About a Deadly, Unhinged Caveman

This Time, It's Personal
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It'll strike you very early on in Skyfall—no later than a fraught fight sequence set in a neon-and-crystal Singapore skyscraper—that there has never been a prettier James Bond movie. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, of course, earns the majority of the credit for the gorgeous location shots and beautifully framed scenes, but director Sam Mendes deserves some praise, too. Mendes, after a string of deflated "serious" films, seems to be rejuvenated as a director by venturing into franchise territory. The set pieces are confident (not jittery, thank God), and the personal moments are nuanced. Mendes's competence allows everyone else involved to relax and do their job to the best of their ability.

Daniel Craig innately understands that James Bond is a caveman with a fancy gun, martial arts training, and a brilliant tailor. In Skyfall, his Bond loses his mojo after a near-death experience: He can't shoot straight and his focus is blown, and that seems to make him even more dangerous, like a bomb with a malfunctioning fuse.

Bond's opponent this time is an ex-spy named Silva whose backup plans have backup plans. Silva clearly shares DNA with The Dark Knight's Joker, although Javier Bardem gives him an energy of his own with some truly wacky line readings that alternately inspire laughter and chills. (Bardem's choice to play Silva as gay-acting will undoubtedly cause some controversy, and it might not age well—think Tommy Lee Jones's now wince-inducing Clay Shaw in JFK—but it's certainly not a mocking caricature.) Silva's plans affect Bond on a human level, targeting his employer (Judi Dench) and striking at his pre-superspy roots. By reducing its scope to a personal scale, Skyfall makes a strong case for itself as possibly the best Bond movie ever. Let the Bond-nerd arguments begin. recommended


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The first half was fantasic, but the second half was nearly a complete letdown. Bardem's character was so smart, and planned everything so well early in on, then (after he escaped from custody) he became an impulsive, vengeful thug. It was like he though, 'Well, I've carefully planned how to get close to M, now I think I'll just try to shoot her in a courtroom! Fuck, that didn't work, and now they're in an old house in the Scotland boonies. I think I'll just get a chopper and some hired goons to shoot or blow her up! Yeah, that will work!'. In a film like this, when the villain is inconsistent, it ruins everything. I actually wanted Silva to succeed in killing M and Bond, and to fly off into the sunset, happy as can be. Thoroughly disappointing.
Posted by Yeti1971 on November 24, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
Tracy 4
Wow, Paul. Have you been reading my twitter stream? Just, this is exactly the discussion/opinions we had after seeing the film. It was no surprise that Bardem was great, but he made so many unexpected character choices that each scene had us magnetized, never quite knowing where he was going to go next. Lovely, fun, with some touching human moments. It was a blast!
Posted by Tracy on November 14, 2012 at 10:18 AM · Report this
Actually, this is the best Bond film since GoldenEye, and it makes a good case for being in the top five of 23.
Posted by johnjjeeves on November 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
mkyorai 2
@1. Have you ever actually read any of the original Bond books? He wasn't a quip-spouting, techno-gadget wielding super spy. He was a competent agent who was 2/3 blunt object and 1/3 debonaire gentleman. And as written, he was human. He was a mere mortal, sometimes scared, uncomfortable, and he even occasionally hated his job (see: The Living Daylights), but he was dedicated and loyal, but mostly he was human. The movie that got closest to this Bond was Casino Royale (which had no real fancy gadgets and only a few big action setpieces; for heaven's sake the climax, in many ways, was a card game.) The more Pierce Brosnan Bond gets, the less I like him.
Posted by mkyorai on November 14, 2012 at 9:33 AM · Report this
This is the worst Bond movie in the series. The villain is bland and boring (save the scene when he touched Bond's knees). The fight scenes were uninspiring save the motor bikes chase scenes in the beginning. There were no funny puns or humorous quipping. The relationship portrayed between M and Bond is superficial. Most people know Bond is a fantasy film and they're trying to make it more "realistic". This is just not fun. I'd rather watch Tomorrow Never Dies over and over than watching this bore.
Posted by JaxBriggs on November 12, 2012 at 10:43 AM · Report this

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