When in doubt, just get rid of Marc Forster.
James Bond (Daniel Craig)’s loyalty to M (Judi Dench) is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat (played by Javier Bardem), no matter how personal the cost.
When Mr. Craig first jumped into the role as James Bond, people were severely pissed. They said he didn’t look like the type of Bond-like character, he didn’t was too small, and worst of all, he was blond! Oh dear! Well, all of those fools’ mouths were shut once Casino Royale came around and absolutely kicked-ass, going to show that not only does this franchise show some new promise, but so does Craig as well. However, all was fine and dandy until Marc Forster got his dumb hands on the franchise and decided to release Quantum of Solace. As most of you probably already saw, I didn’t hate that movie, but I didn’t love it much either. It was an okay movie, but something was missing from it to really make it feel like a Bond movie. But now that they’ve kicked Forster out of the director’s chair, and placed Sam Mendes in it, all is well for Bond and most of all, all is well for this franchise that will continue on through it’s 50-year history. Woo-hoo!
Having a director that is most known for character-dramas and theater work, definitely made me feel a bit a scared for how Mendes would actually handle all of the material, as well as how much would feel like an actual Bond movie itself. Thankfully, Mendes made me feel less scared right from the opening-sequence where it’s pretty clear that this guy knows how to film an explosive and fun action scene, without having people tilt their heads to see just what the hell is even going on. This is something that really made me feel happy as I knew I was back to seeing a Bond film and not a Jason Bourne one, where I would constantly have to deal with shaky-cam and the constant idea that I may have to leave the theater to puke my guts out sooner or later. Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic here but I think you get it: shaky-cam can be pretty damn annoying and it’s a great idea that Mendes decided not to use it and instead, go with the original look, style, and feel that we all know and love from the Bond movies.
Since 2012 does mark the 50th anniversary of Bond, there’s a lot of moments here that Mendes takes advantage of to give little winks and homages towards Bond movies of the past. All of these moments will easily make the die hard’s go ape shit in their seats, as it’s been pretty long since the last time anybody has saw 007 drive an Aston Martin in awhile, as well as do and say a bunch of many other trademarks that I won’t spoil here and it’s just great to see done on the screen once again. However, as much as this is a tribute to all of the Bond films that have come before it, Skyfall, is still it’s own original story that Mendes takes time to build up and up until every single action-sequence is filled to the brim with tension and suspense. Solace had absolutely no tension whatsoever, and was more fun to watch than nerve-wrecking, this one, on the other-hand, had me a bit fearful for Bond’s life and every scene where his life hung in the balance, I was scared as hell for the guy. It doesn’t get any more tense this year with an action movie and it’s really surprising to see that one of the best action movies of the year is done by the same dude who had a whole film revolve around Rose and Jack fighting and yelling at each other every time they’re around one another.
Aside from being the one of the best action flicks of the year, this also may have to go down as the most slickly-produced movie of the year as well. Every single scene just bleeds with cool and style that it’s hard to look away, even when things really seem to get dull, and most of that is thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins. Most of the action scenes here are filled with color and lavish-looking settings that you can’t help but feast your eyes on what you see beyond all of the violence and action going on with Bond, and it gets even better when hit the latter parts of the movie and we see the outer-lands of Scotland, and see just how muggy and dirty a place can be, yet, with a cinematographer like Deakins, can still ooze style. The whole film, from start-to-finish, oozes style and it’s just great to see that not just in a movie, but a Bond movie none the less.
But before I go on any longer about this movie, I still have to say that it doesn’t rank-up as one of the best Bond movies of all-time, even though it seems like every single person on the face of the earth is hailing it as that. I think my problem with this movie was that some moments just felt dull and a bit uninteresting and even though I was glad that they weren’t just constantly hitting us over the head with action-sequence after action-sequence like Solace did, sometimes I really felt like there was something needed to spice the movie up. These small, quiet moments, really took me out of the film and I think because of Mendes’ theater background, is the reason why there was so many in here and used to break-up the action. Still, when that guy wanted to pump-up the action, he sure as hell did just that. I just wish that he kept it going on throughout the whole movie like I expected him to.
Aside from that problem, Daniel Craig, for me at least, still ranks up there as one of best Bond’s because the guy just has it all going for him, especially here in this movie. Because the story is about Bond getting his skills back, showing a more vulnerable side to him, and letting us know that he’s not fully ready for combat just yet, Craig shows a more human-side to this character and allows for us to relate to him and connect with him on a human-level, rather than just a super, secret-spy that we look up to because he kills the baddies and bones the ladies. Yes, he still does commit both of those actions here in this movie, but that’s not what it’s all about with Craig’s Bond. This guy has got some issues, but at the end of the day, we still feel like he’s got what it takes to take down the evil-force that stands in his way, and be able to do it by getting down and dirty, but also still being able to stay in style.
And holy shit! What an evil-force that stands in his freakin’ way, man! I must admit, I thought the casting of Javier Bardem was a bit unoriginal since the guy is most known to American audiences as the bad guy from No Country for Old Men and to go from villain to villain seemed like a dumb-way to type-cast, especially for a talented actor like Bardem. However, once again like I was proven wrong with Mendes as director, I was proved wrong with Bardem as the our bad guy for the next 2-and-a-half hours, Raoul Silva. In No Country, Bardem played Ant0n as a total bad-ass that went about his evil ways in a sadistic, but subtle way, allowing Bardem to show the real evil inside of a character, without ever really saying or being up-front about anything. Here, as Silva, the guy is so over-the-top, so obvious, and so talky that I couldn’t stop but love the guy every time he showed up on-screen. Bardem owns the screen every chance he gets and he’s one of those rare villains that actually makes you fear him not because of the technology he has to hack into the super-secret system, but because the guy’s smart and malicious, but only in the right ways for a Bond villain. If Bardem was in this movie more, I would definitely be calling for some Oscar buzz, but he’s in it for around 20 minutes and that was good enough for me because the guy takes care of business every chance he gets and if I have to see him play another villain in another movie, then hey, I have no problem with that considering the guy is a welcomed-presence to everything he does.
I think it should come as to little or no surprise that Judi Dench is great here as M, and once again gives us a performance that shows how sassy and witty one gal can be, but also still be able to show some heart and humanity when need be. As with all of the Bond movies, every one needs a Bond girl, or two and that’s exactly what Craig has here in both Naomie Harris and the smokin’ hot Bérénice Marlohe. Harris, as usual, is good and shows a lot of strength to her character, but Marlohe, as hot and sexy as she is, isn’t really given much to do at all and is barely in the film as much as the advertisements may have you think. It’s a real shame too, because I could have literally stared at the gal the whole movie and not have had a single problem one-bit. I kid you not, people, this chick is hot! Then again, so was Denise Richards and we all know how that turned out.
Consensus: Skyfall is not the best Bond movie out of it’s 50-plus year series, but is one of the best action movies of the year and is a return-to-form for Bond, but also a way to show that this franchise has nothing to fear as long as they are under the guidance of Mendes and Craig.