Thursday, March 7, 2013

Movie Review: Skyfall (2012)

Better late than never? I'm actually ashamed to admit that this is the first Bond movie I did NOT see in the theater in close to 20 years. The end of 2012 was just too busy for me and it never worked out, something I'm really not happy with. However, being able to rent the movie on Amazon Instant in HD, on a television good enough to make it worth the viewing, does alleviate my guilt to a small degree.

Also note, I'm not going to give a review of the plot. Click this link to read that if you haven't seen the film. I'll try to avoid spoilers, but hey - it's a Bond movie.

I have mixed feelings about this film. On the one hand, although there are a few very cool nods to the fact that this is the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise, this really isn't a "Bond Movie", or rather, it's sort of half a Bond movie. The first half of the film is very classic Bond, but I felt like the second half was something much darker, much more dramatic - more of a character introspection piece, delving into Bond's past far more than any previous film has done.

First, there's also the very complex interactions between Bond and M, far more than the typical verbal fencing that has taken place in all previous films. Examining the role of the Agent (or as Bond says, "Provocateur") and how it fits with M's role of the Controller (or as Bond says, "Bitch"). Judi Dench has always been very good at portraying M as someone who always puts the Mission before the Agent, no matter what. This is obviously a hard burden for her, but one that she has accepted without complaint. As well, Bond has come to terms with his role as Agent, understanding that ultimately, he is an expendable, if expensive and rare, asset. His interaction with Eve after his "resurrection" shows that he knows perfectly well she did what she had to do, and there were no hard feelings - Bond would (probably) have done the same thing in her place.

Also interesting was the comparison between Bond and Silva. It is made clear to us that Silva is Bond's possible dark future self - a reflection of what Bond could become, if he allowed emotion and ego to overshadow his duty. Bond recognizes this, of course, but whether it is out of a stubborn, personal refusal to be anything like Silva, or an understanding that he needs to rise above the comparison and hold the Mission above all else, he rejects his dark reflection and owns his role in the bigger picture.

Finally, the visit to Skyfall Lodge, the trip into his childhood, is very out of character for a Bond film, but in this case, I think it suits the second half of the film quite well. What path will Bond take - the road to becoming his own person, or returning to his role as Agent - Instrument really, of MI6.

All in all, I really enjoyed the film. It took a very unexpected path, but frankly, after 22 previous films, I didn't need to see Yet Another Bond Movie.

Lastly, to go all gun-crazy for a moment, it was nice to see the PPK/S in use - Bronson's adoption of the P99 was fine, but the nod back to the classic Bond gun (although according to the original Dr. No pistol carried by Sean Connery was a Walther PP, not a PPK) was welcomed. The "palm reader" should have been cut, however; giving an agent a pistol he can only use bare-handed is foolish, never mind a weapon that is packed with technology that can fail, be hacked, or otherwise compromise the integrity of the weapon's usefulness (never mind that it means Bond would be leaving fingerprints not only on the gun, but wherever he went). A secret agent is going to want an anonymous, disposable weapon that in no way ties itself to him, never mind his government, and the weapon needs to be able to function with gloved, dirty, or even bloody hands. This little detail should have just been left out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I loved Skyfall. Partly because it's not a "Bond" film. Here's an excerpt from my own review:

“Skyfall” is rife with the sentiment that “the old ways are better,” which resonates powerfully with me. I never thought I’d see James Bond wielding an Anderson Wheeler .500 Nitro Express double rifle; FP readers must know how gratifying that is to me. Bond is now, manifestly, a throwback. In a world where the “action” is undertaken by geeks on their laptops in their pajamas (retch!) he’s only needed because sometimes a trigger still has to be pulled. Shotgun-shell IEDs, 19th Century duelling pistols, a double rifle, a hunting knife, a manor house dating back to the 16th Century — it’s all a big “fuck you” to the high-tech world, a sentiment I would never have expected in a Bond film.

Excellent point regarding the owner-activated pistol.

Enjoy your site very much.

Jim Cornelius