A Film Review Blog

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Wednesday, December 05, 2012


I finally saw Skyfall last week, and I must say I was not disappointed. Granted, after the bleak and somewhat nihilist Quantum of Solace, it would not be hard to lift my spirits. However, Skyfall stands on its own as a good Bond film and a somewhat unique Bond film.

Bond films traditionally present a predictable setup: an unhinged, Machiavellian supervillain and his entourage want to destroy or steal something on a massive scale, and Bond is the only one who can stop them. We see this plot structure in the best Bond films. Diamonds are Forever features Blofeld and his laser satellite; Dr. No wanted to end the Space Program; For Your Eyes Only features Kristatos stealing a Royal Navy cryptography system.

The plot of Skyfall is simpler than all its predecessors. Bond (Daniel Craig) is shot off a train and is presumed dead. This could be an easy out from a difficult life, but Bond will have none of it (remember You Only Live Twice ?). He gets back in the game and attempts to stop Silva (Javier Bardem), a computer expert with a grudge against M (Judi Dench). The most wonderful thing about Silva is that he is not after global domination; he just really, really wants to kill Judi Dench. What begins as a typical spy thriller becomes a smaller scale, decidedly poignant action film. There are no nuclear weapons and no pools full of sharks. However, we do get gambling, femme fatales, and a stellar home-defense montage set in a Scottish castle. I really do love a good home-defense montage (The Lost Boys and Home Alone come to mind).

 One of my favorite (and sorely unappreciated) actresses, Naomi Harris, plays another agent at MI-6 who turns out to be Moneypenny. I saw it coming, and I cringed--truly, this is the only bad part of Skyfall. The film franchise is going to have to change Moneypenny's character quite a bit if they expect us to believe that an agent who kicks ass with a sniper rifle is supposed to settle down as a secretary. Sadly, however, I think the villain Silva (Javier Bardem) was a bit wasted. He organized the greatest computer heist in the world, only for the sake of knocking off one corporate bird. Really? That's the point of the film? However, I did like the last act, as it was immensely entertaining and light on racist and misogynist rubbish.

On a final note, Bardem and Dench are both wonderful in their respective roles. Bardem borrows a bit too much from Anton Chigurh when he plays Silva, but his platinum bob, halting delivery and crazy eyes make for a great villain. Silva is more sympathetic than Chigurh ever was, and for this I am glad. Dench is great, as always, as M. The audience gets a chance to learn a lot more about her relationship with Bond, and their connection is surprisingly touching. Also, Albert Finney is thrown in there as an old friend of Bond's family who cares for the aforementioned castle. He, as always, is inimitable.