Blast From The Past: A James Bond Movie Review

It would seem that the third Daniel Craig Bond movie is overextending the good will of the near-perfect Bond movie, “Casino Royale.” I wish that Skyfall had a little more substance and action to it rather than its pretty visuals. But all we get is a rather simple story of betrayal and revenge. Something was definitely missing in this Bond movie. I just can’t put my finger on it. What I can say with certainty is that it is a much better film and has more understandable plot compared to the previous Bond film “Quantum of Solace.” It’s just not as memorable or up to par to Casino Royale, a film which single-handedly made Craig famous overnight. But still, Bond can be forgiven–lack of action and oomph factor notwithstanding. It’s all because of Craig. Who can resist Craig’s dewy blue eyes? More than any other actor before him, Craig makes James Bond a more relatable character. In this third outing, Bond not only bleeds but becomes mortal and flawed. Bond goes on hiatus and turns to alcoholism. The film also shows Bond’s origins. We get to understand why Bond is internally wounded.

Unlike the other previous Bond films, there are really great supporting characters here. The most likeable characters (which I’m sure will be back for the next film) are Eve and Q. They’re the comic reliefs and represent the younger generation. I kind of like the whole direction they are going, especially the part where they have made Q younger and more nerdy. He’s certainly the Q for the Y-generation. Initially, I had thought that Ralph Fiennes would just be an expendable character but apparently, he will play a much bigger role in the upcoming Bond films. Fiennes plays the pragmatic Gareth Mallory. He sort of sympathizes with Bond but at the same time, he knows he has to do his duty in keeping Bond and M (played by the regal Judi Dench) in check.

I can see what the director, Sam Mendes, is trying to convey. He is telling the audience that there is a tension between the old and the new. James Bond is sort of like a relic of the past. Times have changed and espionage has taken on a new meaning with the advent of the super computers, the internet and social media. How can Bond thrive in this post-Julian Assange/Wikileaks world? Perhaps that is why there are scenes played out in the most modern and sophisticated city of Shanghai and scenes played out in old Europe, in Scotland, where Bond was born. Bond must traverse both the new and the old so he can somehow reach a balance and be more relevant in this ever changing times. Bond somehow also questions his place if he is still relevant, seeing that the younger generation have somehow taken over. But we all know the answer to that, Bond will always be reinvented and will therefore always be relevant. However, there is one character, whose methods and means have become old-fashioned and will therefore be replaced. I can’t say who that character is. But that character was the relic of the mid-90s feminist movement, and sadly, since we are in the 21st century, that character had to be replaced. Having lived through the 90s, even I feel old.

Since “Skyfall” marks the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, there are scenes which are obviously plays hommage to the past films– the appearance of the silver Aston Martin, the emergence of Q and the introduction of Money Penny. Of course, only the Bond fans could relate to this one. I’m a bit disappointed in the villain Silva, played by Javier Bardem. I think he is such a weak character. I don’t know if it is the actor, or if it is the script, but somehow, his character just didn’t have the gravitas to pull off ‘evil’ and ‘sinister.’ And his blonde hair and effeminate ways were too distracting. He may have been the wrong actor to play the part. No offense to anyone, but I had a hard time understanding what he was saying. There was a scene where he showed up for the first time and he was talking about his mother and two rats. I couldn’t understand half of what he was saying. And pray do tell, why does an obviously Spanish guy work for the MI6? I thought they had to be British. This obviously is a casting blunder. They should have asked Ralph Fiennes to play the part, he was great at playing the Evil Voldemort. And he also has the physique as well as the proper accent to play the part. I guess they didn’t want him to be typecast?

What I like about the film is the stunning visuals especially those scenes set in Shanghai and Macau. In fact, I realized how drab Europe is compared to the two featured Asian cities. I was waiting for more action sequences to be set in Shanghai. Instead, they whizzed on to boring old England. I also like the young addition, Q and Eve.

What I don’t like is the lack of action sequences and the straightforward plot. I also hated the villain. He’s such a total bore. I also dislike how easily they dispensed of a female character. Does a woman have to be killed off in every Bond film? Maybe I’m just being old-fashionedly feminist, but why does Bond have to sleep with beautiful one-dimensional girls in every film? Criticisms aside, I liked this film better than Quantum of Solace. But I’m biased, I will always have a special place in my heart for the wonderfully made Casino Royale. And oh yeah, the Skyfall theme gives me LSS (Last Song Syndrome). Can’t keep the song out of my head.

Skyfall Trailer: 


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