Since the days of Pierce Brosnan’s 007, James Bond has gone through a severe identity crisis. He was always known as the prim and proper spy who handily dispatches his victims with tiny guns, exploding pens, and witty puns. (I’m pretty sure that’s the method he uses to get women to bed as well). After Vin Diesel’s XXX movie, Bond followed suit by venturing into extreme sports like snowboarding and driving invisible cars. Then Bourne came along and changed everything (not for the best). It added realism and quick-cut hand-to-hand combat to the genre. The effect of this is prominently seen in the mediocre Quantum of Solace. After that disappointment, the Bond series needed some retooling. Craig showed so much potential in Casino Royale, but was squandered in Quantum. Now, we have Craig’s 3rd outing as Bond, and the filmmakers have found a perfect balance of ridiculous action set pieces and gritty realism.
It is nearly impossible to not be enthralled with the opening chase and the subsequent opening title song. No Bond movie would be complete without the song (sung wonderfully by Adele) and opening credits complete with scantily clad/nude women. (Very 13 year old boy friendly….unless you watch it with your dad, then prepare for red-faced embarrassment)
James Bond comes back into action as a weak man. He is obviously unfit for duty, but is there to protect M, who has been singled out as a target from an unknown source. His loyalty to M is evident, even though the truth, that M has sacrificed several MI6 agents in the past to complete certain missions, is known. Nearly 80 minutes pass before we finally meet the villain, Silva (Javier Bardem). He has a bone to pick with M and always has the upper hand even when MI6 feels like they’re one step ahead of him.
Let me first talk about Javier Bardem’s masterful performance. He is not a villain in the classical sense. He doesn’t stroke a mustache or have a villainous laugh, in fact, he seems like a rather gentle man. His mannerisms and behavior are so unpredictable and unsettling. I would relate him to being an effeminate version of Ledger’s Joker. Half of the time he doesn’t even know what’s going on, but he never shows worry, partially because it’s all part of the plan. The movie quickly explains the history of Silva and M, but only references any past shared with Bond and Silva. Without using cheesy flashbacks, I wanted to know more.
|Bondage, James Bondage…(sorry I couldn’t resist)|
And that brings me to the character of James Bond. I’ve always seen him as a flat character. He has never been anything more than a vehicle through which the movies progress. His character, if you can call it that, was a vain misogynist with a deep loyalty for country. This movie makes him relatable. He is weaker than normal and even second guesses his own aim and combat skills. He constantly tries to prove himself to his superiors. We even get to see a little bit about where James Bond lived as a child. I would be more than happy to see the mythology carried into further Bond movies, little by little. In short, he finally feels like a great character rather than an action hero.
|Unless those cufflinks explode, I wouldn’t bother with them right now.|
I’ve had a day to think about the movie and I have finally come to the conclusion that this is the best Bond film. I had leaned towards the cheesy GoldenEye for so long because it was my first exposure to James Bond, but Skyfall has a perfect mix of action and character. Thank goodness the producers went after a talented director like Sam Mendes. Please bless that they follow that same pattern for following films. I, personally, can’t wait for the Nolan Bond, or even Tarantino Bond flick. Okay, I’m pipe dreaming now, but at least it seems like everyone involved cares more about the series and iconic James Bond character.
Go see this movie. I’m curious where the die-hards will rank it in the series. It’s accessible for everyone, even if you’re new to the series. The old fans may pee a little when they see the Aston Martin and hear the familiar Bond theme. Welcome Back Mr Bond.