Saturday, 27 October 2012

Skyfall - A great Bond film or just hype?

The new James Bond film Skyfall has received so much positive hype in recent weeks that it seemed film critics had witnessed some sort of movie miracle. Some critics even dared call it the best Bond film of them all and so having recently watched the wonderful From Russia With Love on Blu-Ray, it was time for me to put the new Bond epic to the test.

The plot seems fairly straight forward enough. James Bond (Daniel Craig) intervenes to try to halt a former agent (and mad computer expert) Silva (Javier Bardem) from killing M (Judi Dench). However, the film is yet another addition to the revisionist Bond revamp which began in 2006 with Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig as a more physical James Bond.

Skyfall is an entertaining film but it fails as a James Bond film. All this soul searching between Bond and M can get really tedious but at least the film itself contains a lot more good humour than in the previous two Bond films. There are a few nods to the classic Bond films of the sixties but at no time does Skyfall feel like a James Bond film. Daniel Craig's performs the role with even more gusto but I still think he looks like a cross between a boxer and Sid James rather than a dashing secret agent. May I take this opportunity to say that I am always reminded that Craig plays the Bond of the books but I have read the books and Daniel Craig is certainly not the Bond of the printed word. Craig plays Bond as a hot-tempered thug in tuxedo.

Javier Bardem plays Silva to camp but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the young Q (Ben Whishaw), young, geekish and annoying. Berenice Malohi's performance as the beautiful Severine is much too brief and could have played a larger part in the progression of the plot. It is interesting to see sixties acting legend Albert Finney as the bearded gamekeeper (Kincade) of the Bond family estate.

The direction from Sam Mendes is professional enough as you would expect from this Oscar winning director and the script (Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan) works too. The cinematography (Roger Deakins) looks stunning at times but the music score by Thomas Newman is disappointingly erratic and below par. Needless to say that Adele's title sequence number is classic Bond.

I like Skyfall but as with Casino Royale, this is clearly an overrated film. There are times when the movie looks spectacular with wonderful action sequences and yet there are moments when it looks as if some scenes have been taken from a decent episode of Minder. I am so bored of this revisionist approach that seemed to been triggered by the Batman franchise re-boot that I am quite happy to watch any previous Bond film now, even one from the Roger Moore era, just to remind me of the escapist fun we used to enjoy. It seems that the creators of the new Bond films are embarrassed by the characteristics that made the film franchise so profitable and enjoyable in the first place. I dream of the day when the basic plot-line required a cat loving megalomaniac who attempts to take over the world but only to be stopped by Bond who slickly fights off his henchmen, blow ups his evil lair and sleep with the most beautiful girls in the universe so that the world can be a safer place. And if I could talk to the producers, I would ask them to return the gun-barrel sequence to the beginning of the film (ask any Bond fan where they want to see it)! Unlike Skyfall, I want a classic Bond film that really does reach for the skies.
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