Skyfall

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One of the rumors that followed the release of Skyfall was that this would be Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, rumors likely started because Bond is seriously injured in the newest of the 50-year old series.  The injury throws his reflexes off, slightly diminishes his strength, and even leaves a little psychological damage.  However, by the end, I had strong reasons to believe that Craig will be back again.

Skyfall opens with the traditional chase scene, each with its unique stamp of vehicles and/or locations.  This one involves cars, motorcycles, rooftops, a train, and Bond getting shot by friendly fire.  He plummets to his apparent death only to surface in what seems like a tropical location, enjoying anonymity, sex, and drinking games that include scorpions.  However, when yet another cameo by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer announces a terrorist attack at the MI6 headquarters, Bond resurrects himself and submits to thorough physical and mental testing before he is allowed back in the field.

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Let’s go back to that opening chase for a moment.  Bond was trying to retrieve a stolen hard drive that contained encrypted information about all MI6 agents, but the bad guy got away with the goods.  Months later, after the information is decoded, agents are murdered and Bond must find out why and by whom.  The man who got away in the opening chase is found and Bond dispatched to get him in a great visual nighttime fight with a giant HD television screen providing the backdrop.  The only negative about the scene is the typical good guy asking the bad guy, “Who are you working for?”  That question has probably never been answered in a film, and it isn’t answered this time, not verbally, but a clue is found that leads to the Far East.

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One person leads to another, and one fight leads to another, until Bond finds Silva, the man at the top, played excellently by Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men).  Silva has the creepiness of Hannibal Lechter but instead of eating brains he wants to eat Bond, literally, in a flamboyant kind of way.  Silva has a connection to Bond, which I shouldn’t reveal, and is a step up from most other villains.  He isn’t just out for money or death and destruction.  It’s not about gold or diamonds.  It’s personal.

The action, fights, and chases are as expected and excellent.  Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), in his first Bond outing, handles escapes and fights without the silly or amazing coincidences, such as most of the crap in the Mission: Impossible series.  He is known for visual touches like the aforementioned night fight in front of the glowing screen.  Framing his characters with stunning visuals is his trademark.  You’ll notice it in the trailer, such as the arrival in the gondola and Bond standing atop a building overlooking London.  The visuals were fabulous, but not everything was handled with as much directorial care as was necessary.  His first mistake is too much of TCD, Talking Criminal Disorder, in which someone is about to shoot someone, but they spend too much time talking only so that the intended victim will have enough time to figure out an escape while also allowing the criminal to explain something that we need to know for the plot to make sense.

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As for Craig, I like the humanity he brings to the Bond films but not “humanity” as in world peace and save the whales.  I mean more humanlike instead of a comic book character.  Bond struggles in Skyfall.  There are moments that intentionally test his physical and emotional strength, and he fails several times.  The title refers to his sprawling childhood estate on the Scottish moors where bad things happened, and he is forced to relive and remember what he has preferred to forget.  I like this a lot more than the Sean Connery (yeah, my opinion) or Roger Moore versions who were too suave and too easily managed their way in and out of trouble.  Judi Dench, stoic as ever, repeats as Bond’s boss, M.  She faces heat from the upper management, in the form of Ralph Fiennes, lately seen wielding a wand as Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter franchise.  Agents are dying, things seem out of control, in London, and M needs to answer for it.  She answers loudly, then softly, and then it seems that Fiennes is going to be around for a while, which is bittersweet.

skyfall-bilde-6A few small things were bugging me during one particular chase.  While Silva was running from Bond, there were three times he failed to do something as simple as closing a door in order to get away from Bond’s pursuit.  However, it wasn’t until long after the film was over when I realized he had “messed up” on purpose.  Something new in the gadgetry were earpieces and microphones worn by Bond, M, and agents so they could communicate during the opening chase and other action scenes.  Yet as cool as that was, it also caused a major hole.

The opening chase ended when Bond fought with the hard drive thief atop a moving train.  A female agent had a chance to shoot the thief, but he and Bond were too close together and fighting.  The agent told M it was not a clear shot, but M told her to “take the shot” because M knew that losing Bond might mean saving dozens of other agents.  The agent took the shot, knocking Bond off the train and into a river, which lead to his disappearance and ability to play dead for a few months.  But when Bond resurfaced, he confronted the agent about having shot him, and he specifically threw back at her the words, “take the shot.”  If Bond knew that, then he was able to hear M and the agent through his earpiece.  And if he could hear through his earpiece, he could also hear the other agent.  That means she could have told him to move so she could shoot the thief with a clear shot.

Little things like that bother me, which is why I have to remind myself to focus on the big picture.  As for Skyfall – it’s a big picture.  See it.  Teacher gives it an A-.

Ps. The good ol’ Aston Martin makes an appearance, as does an updated Miss Moneypenny.

Pps. There’s usually a big deal about each film’s Bond girl.  This film downplays that aspect, and I’m glad because I find the whole concept annoying.

87 thoughts on “Skyfall

      • he was an asshole, but he was reacting to how he had been treated. and i think you have to be part asshole to do that job successfully. however, your initial assessment is both accurate and something i have avoided admitting.

      • I do see your point about him having to be part asshole to do that job. But as a young woman that’s not something I would’ve realized about the movies and instead would just see a guy treating women badly (plus explosions and stuff have never been my big thing either). But this one had a lot of layers that surprised me and I actually felt for the bad guy here because he had his reasons for what he did and they were good – not honorable or anything but they made sense.

      • i agree and i pointed that out. the bad guy wasn’t just out for money. everyone kind of became more human instead of just tough guy spy.

      • if you plan to watch another, i recommend “casino royale.” but be careful. there’s an older version from the 60’s, but it sucked. make sure you see the one from about 6 years ago. it was daniel craig’s first bond film.

      • I actually did watch that one after this one (I went with a friend who really digs Bond and he recommended that one next). It was good, not as good as this but I hated it because he actually fell in love and was happy and then, well, you know. It made me so mad, lol.

  1. When you go into a Bond movie, you have to suspend a lot of reality, but that’s expected, so fine. I completely agree with the taking-too-much syndrome so often used. If you want to kill someone, don’t talk, kill him/her! It’s just like staying away from slimy pods in sci-fi movies–everyone should know to do that, but they never do.

    I loved the overlays of the old Bond (car, Moneypenny, etc.) and I especially liked, perhaps for the first time, Bond himself. At least he showed a human side and the Bond girl/sex aspect was played down a lot or left more to the imagination. Many of the visuals were stunning and the villain completely creepy. My favorite Bond perhaps ever.

  2. I kind of have mixed feelings about Bond in general, for some reason I often struggle to understand the plot, and I’ll be that really annoying person who keeps whispering “Who’s that?”, “Why’s she doing that?”, “So what are they trying to achieve here?”. Consequently, I find that while I enjoy lots of aspects of the Bond films, if I haven’t got a patient companion to explain it as we go along, I get a bit bored. I enjoyed Skyfall, I saw it both at the cinema and then again last week on DVD, and I enjoyed it more the second time because I understood it more! I often struggle with movie plots actually, not just Bond, I’m much better at following the plot in books.

    I love they way you analyse things, I would never have thought of that whole earpiece “take the shot” thing!

  3. I love Daniel Craig. I think the first time I saw him was in one of those Truman Capote films, playing one of the killers. He’s tough and smart as Bond, and I hope he plays 007 as long as he wants to.

  4. Really looking forward to watching this. I’m not really a Bond fan, but I want to see him struggle in this one.
    Very interesting analysis about the earpiece, I’ll be looking out for that part.

  5. I don’t think it lived up to the hype – just watched it again on DVD – not a patch on Casino Royale. One other thing did the Skyfall segment feel out of kilter with the rest of the film? It didn’t gel for me.

  6. This was my first Bond movie, because of which I was doubly disappointed. I think Adele’s song was the highlight for me! I don’t think I could have ever come up with the nuanced loopholes you’ve pointed out!

  7. I enjoyed this bond as well. More than the others because Bond wasn’t as polished as usual. I thought Javier was an awesome bad guy. He just played that part so daggone well it was almost creepy. He came off one way when you first see him, but he’s deeper and crazier then that. Nice review.

  8. Not a huge fan of the newer bonds give me Sean Connery any day but I did really enjoy this – one thing though that did confuse me maybe you know the answer, James Bond is supposed to be a title/name passed along with the 007 number or that was what I believed and it allowed for the change in Bonds without too much questioning but this is the bit that confused me it actually showed his parents graves and named them as Bond does this mean he was picked because it was his name do they changed dead names to hide identity? Do you know? Does any one know? Does it actually matter?

  9. Never saw so many intro credits in my life. Did not like this movie. Was shocked at the story in the middle. The chase was way too long. James Bond is not “all that” as far as the series goes. The song is good.Daniel Craig was good in it.

    • craig was a great choice for the “new” bond. and you’re right about the credits. it just came back to me now that you mentioned it. thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

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