BattlinMurdock Reviews: Skyfall
It's been getting tons of critical acclaim, but does it deserve it? Find out why this Bond film feels a little more shaken than stirred. Minor *Spoilers.*
There's a moment in Skyfall where you see James Bond's soul. We glaze over Daniel Craig's glossy, blue eyes and glimpse a hint at someone emboldened, but tired. Someone who feels thankless and powerless. Someone who realizes he's spent his entire life without a real identity. And that's a success for Sam Mendes' movie, as it's something that goes absent in the Bond entries of old. And while Skyfall boasts the fact that it's the best made Bond film, it just may not be the best.
Everything is in top form, here. Mendes has framed these characters with breathing room without compromising the action-extravaganza elements of the past two Bond films, which is a testament to his skill as a director. Javier Bardem is given a no-cut, monologous entrance that easily ranks at the top of Bond baddies, despite the fact he's doing nothing but walking across the floor of a spacious room. Mendes has complimented his performers by allowing them to perform, something other directors by-pass for the sake of the "wholesome" Bond gimmick and quick-cut editing. Because he's at the helm, we get the finest performances in the franchise yet from Craig, Bardem, Dench, and newcomers Fiennes and Winshaw.
But Mendes can only do so much to elevate a bad script, and a mediocre script is what Logan (with Wade and Purvis) has, indeed, penned. Every conversation feels predictable and stale, despite the best efforts of the actors to liven them up. But rebuttals like this:
"Everybody needs a hobby." - Bond
"What's yours?" - Silva
"Resurrection." - Bond
...plays about as well as you could expect. Not to mention the script is loaded with winks to the previous films that are a bit too heavy-handed in my opinion, and a fairly weak third act that takes place at the titular household of the Bond family, meaning the news of Logan's return to Bond 24 in the script department is not exciting to me.
Seeing James Bond team up with ruggedly and awesomely-lovable Albert Finney seems so off to end a movie that showcases Bond's return back to the offensive, unstoppable nature that we're so used to seeing. He spends 80% of the film chasing, and then the last chuck on the defense, tag-teaming with M and his grounds keeper. It isn't bad, but something about it feels lazy and inconsiderate to the character. Bond is a more off-the-cuff, improvising fighter, so to see him and a team of elderlies booby-trap a mansion feels almost playful instead of rough, rugged, and tense. It didn't sit well with me.
However, cinematographer Roger Deakins has never been in more top form, with no frame left without glitz, glimmer, and gusto. Entire scenes hinge on how the man plays with light, and it's to glorious effect. Shanghai has never looked so radiantly stunning, the action has never had such a haunting glow, and Deakins is bound to get Oscar-noticed.
But some scenes are too silly (Bond leaping onto an elevator from the bottom and dangling all the way up, a CGI komodo dragon) and seem fairly out of place with the emotional backbone of the rest of the movie. Combine that with two bland, forgettable Bond girls and you're left with a sour taste in your mouth in retrospect.
As I said before, the film is the best made feature we've seen so far, but it does have lags and snares. I'd personally like to see Mendes give a sequel a go without Logan's involvement, because his take on the characters is truly a breath of fresh air to the franchise. He's much more concerned with the ghosts inside the characters than the armor in which they carry into battle. It's not a feature that's as bombastic, energetic, or even as smart as Casino Royale, but it's certainly no stretch away from its excellence. It trades twists and turns for simplicity, which could be exactly what we need right now. Skyfall will most definitely re-surge the character back to his deserved popularity.
Final Grade: B+
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