Friday, August 11, 2017
(November 2012, U.S.)
As much as I hate to start out with a negative attitude about anything I write on my blog, especially a James Bond film, let me get this off my chest right now. Perhaps the worst thing about the franchise every since Daniel Craig took over the role of the legendary English spy (besides QUANTUM OF SOLACE!) is that the movie poster designs really suck! Honestly, they're uninteresting, unmotivating and contain virtually no admirable artwork for the eyes or the senses. In fact, I haven't really liked any of the James Bond movie posters since THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS, and that was thirty years ago (Happy 30th anniversary, by the way). All negativity aside, however, SKYFALL not only coincides perfectly to mark the 50th anniversary since the launch of the franchise in 1962 with DR. NO, but it also redeems Daniel Craig's position as Bond after the disastrous QUANTUM OF SOLACE (sorry, but I had to mention that again). As director, Sam Mendes of AMERICAN BEAUTY and ROAD TO PERDITION returns filmmaking to a more steady pace, which not only gives one pause to enjoy the action and excitement, but it also doesn't give you a damn headache like Marc Foster did.
For Craig's third go-around, the story would have us briefly believe that James Bond is killed by friendly fire when his associate Agent Eve (Moneypenny, we learn later) is forced by M to "take the bloody shot" in order not to risk a mercenary who's stolen a valuable hard drive containing the details of undercover agents (sounds like the NOC list from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE) escaping capture. Even as Bond falls to the river and Adele starts to sing her boring song, we know Bond isn't really dead because Bond never dies in the movies. Eventually "returning from the dead", Bond is recruited back into the fold to investigate a terrorist attack at the MI6 building. As the operation is considered a failure, M and the entire existence of MI6 comes under pressure from British parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee. Bearing the blunt of the blame, M (played for the last time by Judi Dench) is strongly urged to retire by parliament's chairman Gareth Mallory (played by Ralph Fiennes, who seems perfectly fit for a James Bond film). As Bond investigates, chases, fights and nearly dies at the hands of his enemies, we learn the motive behind the terror attacks are to ultimately discredit, humiliate and kill M. Her enemy is former MI6 agent Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem in a very effeminate persona, unfortunately) who plots his revenge against her for betraying him in the past (just what is it about this woman that pisses people off to the point of wanting her dead?? Remember Sophie Marceau as Elekra King in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH?).
Although Bond has never completely respected her authority, he's compelled to protect her at all costs. Here's where the film takes a turn to the more personal side of Bond's character as he drives her (in the classic 1964 Aston Martin DB5, of course) to the middle of nowhere in Scotland to hide out in none other than his childhood home called Skyfall. We've always known that Bond was an orphan (his parents died in a climbing accident according to Alec Trevelyan in GOLDENEYE), but it's only through the gamekeeper of the old estate, Kincade (played by Albert Finney) that we truly learn of who Bond was as the grieving boy who would eventually become the young man recruited into the world of secret agents and global danger. In fact, after the climactic battle has concluded, the house has exploded, and the bad guys are dead, M dies in Bond's arms and we see the great James Bond cry for the first time in the the fifty year franchise (George Lazenby didn't even cry when his wife was killed at the end of ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE), perhaps echoing a reoccurring pain of losing ones mother all over again. Tough as M was with her favorite spy, we've always suspected that need within her to act as mother to James. In fact, the last thing she says to Bond is "I did get one thing right."
While SKYFALL soars high above many other Bond films, it's hardly perfect. Our diabolical villain in Javier Bardem is somewhat of a disappointment, not just due to the practically gay character he employs, but his plot of simply wanting revenge against one woman is hardly worthy of the ultimate plans of world domination we've previously enjoyed by men like Dr. No, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Hugo Drax or even Max Zorin. There's virtually no Bond girl in this one, and whatever time she does manage to occupy is quickly killed off midway through the film. On the other hand, perhaps it's the deliberate point of the story that Bond is destined to end his latest adventure not in the arms of some hot babe in the sack, but rather to offer his arms to the one woman who has meant more to him than any of us fans were truly led to believe. In the end, even the great hard-as-nails, heart-of-stone James Bond needs a mother.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Kincade (after killing two men at Skyfall): "Welcome to Scotland!"