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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Spoiled Rotten: Skyfall

Posted by on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 at 7:48 AM

Here's my spoiler-free review of Skyfall. Here's the trailer for Skyfall.


After the jump, I have some thoughts about Skyfall that you probably shouldn't read unless you've already seen the movie. Consider this your spoiler alert.

I watched Skyfall for a second time and I definitely stand by my review: It's a beautiful entertainment. I think it belongs in the upper echelon of Bond movies, surpassing even the excellent Casino Royale. The best sequence was set on the abandoned island where Bond first meets Silva. (Here's the real story behind that island, by the way.) That confrontation was in many ways the purest form of what a Bond movie should be: A villain ranting about his unstoppable plan, with a helpless Bond somehow coming across as the one in command of the situation. The only thing I didn't like about that scene was Bond's crack about a waste of Scotch after Silva kills Sévérine. While Sean Connery could have gotten away with it, Daniel Craig's Bond is too tender, too brooding, for that kind of callous quip.

And sure, the movie steals too much from The Dark Knight—the agent of chaos, the lies from a trusted parent figure, the villain disguised as a policeman—but it doesn't try to follow The Dark Knight into self-importance. Instead, the script knows when to back down from the heavy-handedness. If you're going to steal, steal from the best, and only steal what you can carry.

In the end, my big concern about Skyfall—and the Craig Bond series in general—is that it could be destroying the future of the franchise. Now that we have a Bond origin story, I suspect that it's going to be very difficult to hand the character over to another actor. Bond's not just a wise-cracking secret agent anymore. He's a very specific human being. And Craig's Bond movies are pretty much using up all of the "this time...it's personal" plots, ensuring that whoever the next Bond is won't be able to dig back into the character's past or plumb the depths of grief without a direct comparison to Craig. There's no backward left to explore in James Bond. From here on out, it has to be forward, and James Bond has always had a hard time moving forward.

 

Comments (21) RSS

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Joe Szilagyi 1
They should go full on into the fun internet theory that the "James Bond, 007" moniker is simply an assumed alias taken on by a progressive string of British agents.

Lazenby played a Brit who may as well have been named Trevor Smith, who played James Bond, 007. Connery played a Scot who played James Bond, 007. As did Moore, and then Connery's character took on the role again, and then Dalton, and then Brosnan, and then Craig. If this is Craig's last film, just replace him or get him to come back for a brief bit in the next film. Kill him on screen or let him retire, and then make it crystal clear.

Hell, you could do a story about a new Bond dealing with the fallout of the actions of a previous Bond.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://www.zombo.com on November 14, 2012 at 8:08 AM · Report this
BostonFontSnob 2
Do we all agree that the Albert Finney role was supposed to be Sean Connery, but it's probably for the best that he didn't do it?
Posted by BostonFontSnob on November 14, 2012 at 8:20 AM · Report this
3
@1, I was seriously just present that scenario to my brother-in-law who saw skyfall with me last week. its a viable premise and I don't feel like it would be too hard to pull off. There's been multiple M's so why not 007s?

I personally thought Skyfall was fantastic, right up there with Casino Royale. Both were great, as far as the Craig-era Bond movies, but each had a completely different feel. Skyfall was much more visceral in pretty much every way, from the action sequences to the villain to the cinematography in genera.

And a co-staring roll by a DB5 is ALWAYS a great thing.
Posted by ultrasuedecushion on November 14, 2012 at 8:21 AM · Report this
thatsnotright 4
Let's face it Daniel Craig can only do one or two more of these. Creating an origin myth allows for franchise possibilites. They can now make "young Bond" movies which begin with his recruitment into MI6. You know that remake/updates of the early films are inevitable as well.
I really enjoyed Skyfall. It lived up to expectations and in places surpassed. Plot, acting,art direction, special effects music, it was all so lush. Classic opening sequence followed by some of the best credit imagery imaginable.
Posted by thatsnotright on November 14, 2012 at 8:23 AM · Report this
watchout5 5
I miss the nerd points where Bond would be all like "you're so crazy kids with your technology" then that moment came probably an hour later in the movie where he has that look on his face like, holy shit thanks nerd kid. They told their story. Bring me a silly evil guy trying to take over more than just a personal grudge and fight him with magical gadgets. This was one of the first movies I saw in the theater in a long while, I'm not disappointed but I'm not entirely sure I saw a Bond 007 film. I saw a new agent chase around an older Julian Assange for an hour and he made a few winks at Moneypenny. Has Bond outgrown his misogyny?
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on November 14, 2012 at 8:25 AM · Report this
6
I'd be more concerned about the origin myth if it conflicted with any previous origin or in any way redefined the character.

I remember that in some of the books he had an aunt, but I can't even remember if that was from any of the original Fleming books or the later licensed sequels.

But what prevents the next actor from taking over? So another Bond isn't quite so tortured, or quite so introspective, or a bit more wise-cracking. Just about anything can be a result of, compensation for, or recovery from, a childhood trauma.

It's not like the previous movies were full of tantalizing references to Bond's childhood. Or, for that matter, other than the actual time frame, was there anything in particular about previous Bonds that wouldn't fit with what we now know.

We can, if necessary, do without them in the future.

But while we're at it, one untouched part of the back story is Bond's Naval Service. He's a commander in the Royal Navy. Was that a cover? Reserve time? Detached active duty? They can leave that alone or make it a central part of a story line.

Frankly, I love that the actor changes out, and that the franchise survives changes in roles like M, Q, and now, Moneypenney.
Posted by Lymis on November 14, 2012 at 8:34 AM · Report this
7
This is the most boring 007 film in the series. We are supposed to believe Silva can take out two armed guards in a secure room (how convenient they didn't bother to show that important detail, I can suspend my belief how he has incredible fighting skills but still need to see it). We're supposed to believe Silva and two other bad guys can just walk up to the Parliament with just couple of security guards in the front door and shot up people in the meeting with one of the prime minister inside. The final battle scene where he rigged the house reminded me of tricks in the Home Alone movie ! Come on this is the freaking 007 fantasy film it's supposed to be fun and not some brooding boring agent w/ mommy issue. I'm tired of seeing these action films trying to psychoanalyze itself and make itself important while everyone knows it's a freaking fantasy no more no less.
Posted by JaxBriggs on November 14, 2012 at 8:48 AM · Report this
Akbar Fazil 8
I found his "waste of scotch" line to be appropriate. This is a Bond who has had his heart ripped out by the loss of Vesper. Women to him are just a means to an end when encountered on the job. Any emotion he might have felt for the girl he did have to hide to not betray his place to the bad guy.
Posted by Akbar Fazil on November 14, 2012 at 8:53 AM · Report this
9
I like the "only steal what you can carry" line.

@5, "I'm not entirely sure I saw a Bond 007 film" that was my and Mrs. Ancient Sumerian's take, as well. Seemed like a slightly different genre. Not bad, just not quite it.

Paul:

And Craig's Bond movies are pretty much using up all of the 'this time...it's personal' plots, ensuring that whoever the next Bond is won't be able to dig back into the character's past or plumb the depths of grief without a direct comparison to Craig.

I don't find this convincing. The series isn't big on continuity: recasting Bond; recasting M; recasting everyone; Bond is the same person but at different points in history. None of that makes any sense at all (except under @1's theory). So I don't think they're going to be too beholden to this particular incarnation. I mean really, there is serious interwebz discussion about casting Idris Elba as the next Bond: is anyone going to believe that he grew up in the Scottish highlands? That such a recasting is even imaginable by Bond fans means that no one takes the continuity as seriously as you imply.

And you could have made a similar argument that Connery's Bond used up all the "I will destroy the whole world" plots, and therefore that whoever the next Bond is will inevitably be compared to Connery. Which Moore was, but so what?

As to the idea that "There's no backward left to explore in James Bond," just upthread someone mentioned Bond's time in the Navy.
Posted by Ancient Sumerian on November 14, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
10
I'm with Jax @7. Silva's plan made no sense. What did he get out of being captured, that he couldn't have done on his own?

That said, many scenes were very fun -- initial chase, elevator ride, hall-of-mirrors fight, conversation with Sévérine, komodo dragons, Silva's multifaceted seduction scene, escalator surfing, the frozen lake...
Posted by EricaP on November 14, 2012 at 9:34 AM · Report this
11
Aren't there like 50,000 James Bond books? Talk to me about running out of story when the franchise breaks three digits.
Posted by six shooter on November 14, 2012 at 9:48 AM · Report this
12
I'm not a fan of the James Bond movies in general, but really like the Daniel Craig movies. I've seen plenty of them over time, a few in the theater. I think Craig is signed up for another three movies.

One thing I noticed is that at the end of the trailer, when Bond is landing in the train, there is a bit of digital editing compared to the movie: the trailer takes the blood off his shirt.
Posted by LMcGuff http://holyoutlaw.livejournal.com/ on November 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
13
@10 -- He played cat and mouse with his former master. He tested his super-agent mojo against the current title-holder.

Bond (a true English nobleman) spent his "retirement" battling scorpions for drinking money and banging the native population. Silva (a Spanard urchin) spent his "retirement" creating the perfect evil genius master plan. I for one think these are the kind of morals we should be teaching our children.

Plus, how awesome is a Bond bad guy who doesn't care about taking over the world. All Silva wants is a hug from his mommy. Most realistic Bond since Moonraker.
Posted by six shooter on November 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Westlake, son! 14
I don't understand exactly what was so appealing about Skyfall. Beautiful sets/locations, but the action and story left much to be desired. I'm sure they struggled with an elegant way to refresh M, Q, and Moneypenny in the script and I think it shows.

Replacing characters was the major plot device. Lame. Excellent villain, though.
Posted by Westlake, son! on November 14, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
-B- 15
@7, it is suggested in the film that Silva uncovered the ability to even turn on gas at MI6 and igniting by hacking their network. So unlocking the secured room he was in was part of the hacking they pointed out in the storyline as the escape was happening.
The villain's story line was all about theatre, grandiose delusion, revenge and in the end self destruction. So once you write all those elements into a character you get to pull off many absurd scenarios.
It is a bond film with absurd action designed to entertain.
The main theme being the battle and struggle between old and new. Old technology and new technology, old Austin Martin Bond and new reinvented bond. The movie wraps up all the old Bond concepts and updates them or eliminates them for good as seen when destroying the Austin Martin for good. There are only so many times you can write the car into a new bond movie so I think it is done for good, a metaphor regarding referencing old Bond in future films. Unless secretly a past Q had a duplicate made no one knows about.
The film moves everything on and unties the Bond franchise from constantly having to over reference the past. The car is gone, new M, new Moneypenny and according to the end of the film a refreshed ready to move on new Bond that has lost someone he cared for.
I like the old bond references but it was time to move on shed most of the old Bond trappings in a grand way and continue with a new Bond look.
Posted by -B- http://brianboulton.com/ on November 14, 2012 at 10:14 AM · Report this
Tracy 16
Also, how about that product placement for Caterpillar excavators in the beginning? Working in construction, I couldn't help giggling. I mean, I know that product placement is rampant, and you'll often find items in movies with more logos/bigger logos, but holy crap. Cat did NOT want you to miss the fact that it was THEIR excavator helping Bond. A quick google search found the press release: http://www.caterpillar.com/cda/layout?m=…
Posted by Tracy on November 14, 2012 at 10:26 AM · Report this
17
They've updated M, Q, and Moneypenny with every new Bond actor.

The DB5 has died and returned many, many times. It showed up in Casino Royal. I'm looking forward to some future movie scene where Bond reveals a warehouse of them.
Posted by six shooter on November 14, 2012 at 10:28 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 18
I can't wait for Bond's hovercar they'll be using with the new Bond.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on November 14, 2012 at 10:45 AM · Report this
Fnarf 19
Is the scene where the huge train falls through the domed roof as hilariously stupid-looking in the film as it is in the clip I saw on Graham Norton? I hope so. It wouldn't be a Bond film if it wasn't hilarious and stupid-looking.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on November 14, 2012 at 11:08 AM · Report this
20
It's pretty stupid looking.

My biggest gripe is with Q. He thinks that doing something clandestine will kill his career after he presided over two top level secuity breaches, the second of which shows the greatest stupidity and arrogance, as well as professional incompetence.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on November 15, 2012 at 1:28 AM · Report this
21
Saw it, liked it but I do wish it had given Judy Dench a little more. This was M's career they wanted her to give up.

Also, ditto on Silva getting out of the secured area. If Bond's escapes are shown, I'd like to have seen this one as well.

As well, what was up with Q giving Bond his equipment in a museum? Hello, there are many cameras in a museum - what security agency would pick that place?

Also, when Bond was going to pick off the assassin, he sure took his time.

And, not so much of the Bond lovin' in this one - blink and you missed them.

But, great fun, Adele's theme song was great (she's got the perfect voice for a Bond movie)
Posted by westello on November 18, 2012 at 9:12 AM · Report this

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