Skyfall is one of the most anticipated films of the year. It marks the 50th anniversary of the Bond film franchise and so expectations are naturally high for this film to be better than the poorly received Quantum of Solace.
When Oscar winning Director Sam Mendes was announced as the director of this film, everyone felt that this would be something extra special. That this director would pull something awe inspiring out of the bag. I wish I could say that these expectations were met and exceeded, but for me Skyfall just doesn’t meet the fantastic Casino Royal. It’s a real shame because it could have been so much more with some tweaking.
Ok, now fair warning to you all. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS FILM, THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. I’ll warn you when the spoiler is going to come up, so you can skip to the end or close the browser. Ready? Good!
The whole premise of this film, from what I could understand, was Bond didn’t manage to recover a missing hard drive from Bardem’s henchman, Silva. During this failed mission, Bond is shot by Agent Eve (Harris) and is presumed dead since he plummets off the bridge into the water. Bond, being the super-agent that he is, survives but lives his life in solitude for a few months until an attack on MI6 headquarters, along with the first five names from a list of agents that are deep undercover in various terrorist organisations.
This blatant and public attack, casts doubt on M’s (Dench) ability to head up MI6. She is called before a minister named Gareth Malloy and there is talk about her retirement, to which M scoffs.
Bond returns from his “death” in order to help M find out who is behind it. This all leads to a cat and mouse game, concluding in a show down between Bond and Silva.
On paper this looks like it should be a brilliant rollercoaster ride. All the elements are there and the fact that the writers have taken inspiration from real life events. Yet, the pacing is uneven, the motivation for the villain going after M explained in one line that could easily be overlooked and a script that really lacked any spark.
While trying to pay homage to the last 50 years of Bond, the writers have threw in too many winks and nods to the legacy of the series. I am all for acknowledging the past, but at times I found myself rolling my eyes at how obvious it was. Never did I think I would say that Die Another Day, the movie released for the 40th Anniversary of the franchise, managed to be more subtle in its salute to series.
All the progress that Casino Royal managed to achieve in bringing Bond into the 21st Century seems to have been lost. True, there isn’t the megalomaniac, intent on taking over the world through nefarious means, but it had lost “something”. It is hard to explain exactly what this something is. Its just it didn’t have that edge of your seat pizazz Casino Royal had.
Craig, though an excellent actor, is starting to show his age in this film. Bond no doubt would be beginning to show the strain of the task he has to undertake. The human body only can sustain so much, but Craig is beginning to look tired in this movie. He also seems to have lost that glint he had in both Casino and Quantum. His performance at times seemed to be almost phoned in.
We start to see glimmers of Craigs old Bond during his interactions with his fellow agent Eve, and also Silva. With Silva, it is humorous to see Bond so out of his comfort zone. While Le Chief used physical torture on Bond (Ah, that chair scene), Silva goes from the more psychological approach. This was one of the few interesting parts and it does through up some questions.
Unfortunately, Badem is not on the screen very much and for a Bond Villian, his whole motivation for this attack could be summed up in one throwaway line in the film. If you blinked you could have missed it.
Ok, now I am going into spoiler territory here, so if you don’t want to know about the twist, then scroll past the spoiler now. If you do, then read at your own risk!
SPOILER STARTS HERE
So, you want to know the twist and the main reason why I think this film lacked the punch that it did? Well, here we go.
The whole point of this film was “M” leaving the franchise. At first it seems as though it will be down to being forced into retirement. Despite Silvia’s attempts, M is still standing right up to the very last act, only to die due to a gunshot wound.
Even the final showdown with the villain at Bond’s ancestral home was funny for all the wrong reasons. Since Bond was presumed dead, his home had been sold along with everything in it except his father’s shotgun. We are then treated to what can only be described as a homage to Home Alone, with Bond, M and the Gamekeeper Kinkade all booby trapping the house.
While doing so, Kinkade shows M a secret passageway to get out of the house and away from invaders. You instantly knew that this would be used as a means of escape.
When Silva attacks the house and basically raises it to the ground, you still don’t get that feeling that this is a Bond movie. Even when the helicopter is shooting at the place, it is very much same old same old.
The final confrontation between M, Silva and Bond is very anti-climactic and the M’s death could be seen a mile away. You knew that she was not going to survive this, but rather than feel sad or upset, I seemed to just shrug and go “oh, well”. For me there was no emotional gut-punch where you see Bond mourn for his mentor. She was a big part of his life and made him who he was.
For me this film was all about three things, the death of M, the introduction of both Q and Moneypenny and the new M (Ralph Fienes, which makes me slightly happier because I really love him as an actor).
It was a completely wasted opportunity to make this such a punchy film. They could have made the death of M the motivation for Bond to go after Badem, yet the squander the chance with pointless set pieces in exotic locations and a few action shots. Argue with me all you like that they were on a budget, other films can manage on less budgets and still give a great film.
SPOILER ENDS HERE
Ok, so we are back in the room.
The film has been hyped up to the nines and while many claim it’s the best bond every, for me it isn’t. It is far from it. This was just an excuse to bring in two old faithful’s from the novels and the books. The introduction of both Q and Moneypenny is along time coming, but it does it really add anything to the films except to bring them in line with books and films before it? No.
The telling thing for me if a movie is good is if I look at my watch or if I start drifting off and start to think of something else. Skyfall caused me to do both. There was no emotional connection to any character on the screen, no plot that made me want to find out who was behind it and the reasons why. All I could keep thinking about was when it was going to end.
My only hope is that the next film manages to capture that gritty plot driven film that I know is in there. Mr Bond, you left me neither shaken nor stirred.
RATING: 1.5 Stars
DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes
STARRING: Daniel Craig, Judy Dench, Javier Bardem, Naomi Harris, Ralph Fienes