Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Movie Review: Skyfall

I was really looking forward to the latest James Bond film Skyfall. I didn't read any but saw a lot of glowing reviews, saying it was the best Bond film in a long time, maybe even ever. I really liked Casino Royale and thought that Daniel Craig could surpass Sean Connery as the best Bond, but that film was an origin story and he wasn't Bond yet. Maybe the next film. Unfortunately that was Quantum of Solace. I really hated the crazy fast editing from the very beginning. The opening car chase had him racing towards traffic stopped at a construction site on a mountain road and then at the last minute he turns into the mountain where miraculously a road now appeared. But worse, the script wasn't there and the plot wasn't interesting. I recently learned it was made during the writers strike and they didn't have a finished script so they were making it up as they went. I also learned that while Skyfall was delayed because of MGM's financial problems, they used the nine months to continue to work on the script. A modern Bond film with a good script, that could be perfect.

About five minutes into Skyfall I had a giant smile on my face. I know because I checked my watch. The opening chase was really well done. I've seen a number of chases on the roofs of Istanbul recently but none on motorcycles. I also liked the train sequence. Sam Mendes was a fine action director for Bond. I loved a lot of the first half of the film. MI6 is attacked, M has political problems and that was all played well. I liked Q and the fact the gadgets were more Sean Connery era gear rather than crazy Roger Moore era gear and that they made fun of that bit. I also cheered when the Aston Martin DB5 appeared. Javier Bardem made a good villain Silva, a bit creepy and believably formidable. I also liked the Bond girl Bérénice Marlohe, she's given a good scene in a casino and switches from confident to terrified from just a few subtle changes on her face.

But I also had problems with the film. I thought Silva's plot was convoluted and ludicrous. I liked his backstory, motivation and goal, but anyone so smart would have come up with a much simpler plan. It's the kind of thing where the writers just went from scene to scene adding things without looking at the big picture. I thought his scheme made Goldfinger's plan to make his gold more valuable by nuking Fort Knox with an all-female aerial circus seem facile. The plot spends a lot of time harping on if Bond is too old. Daniel Craig might be 44 but just a couple of films and only six years ago was his origin story. I wasn't really ready for that. There's an action scene in the middle of the film between Bond and an assassin named Patrice. As the scene unfolded I wondered why they were killing someone that way and even what the space was. Was that a building under construction? How did Bond hide behind all those walls made only of glass? For a film that supposedly had all this extra time to polish the script, I just didn't see it.

In the end, it was pretty fun. I really did have a big smile on my face for a lot of it. But a couple of days later, I can think of no memorable lines and just a couple of fun images, those motorcycles on the roofs, a scorpion, and some beautiful Scottish countryside. Yet again, at the end of a Daniel Craig Bond movie I'm left thinking, maybe in the next one he'll finally be the best Bond.

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