Casino Royale was one of my favourite theatre going experiences, nothing beats a packed theatre for a legitimately good action film, has one of my favourite endings of recent memory, and fantastically introduced Craig as the new Bond and automatically set the bar mighty high. I never did see Quantum of Solace in theatres, but I did check it out on DVD, and while it’s nowhere close to Casino Royale’s quality, I never thought it was as bad as everyone else seems to think it is. This boring intro is all just to say, I’m not really sure what my relationship is with Bond films. I know I’ve seen a bunch of the older ones, but that was when I was younger and I hardly remember them. I’ve seen the earlier Brosnan ones, but again when I was younger and I only remember highlights. I like Bond films, yet don’t seem to have much of a deep history with them, beyond the Craig ones, which are obviously fresher in my mind.
Anyways, right, Skyfall. I was supremely excited for the film of course, especially when Sam Mendes came aboard and then even moreso seeing what Bardem looked like as the villain, it was going to be shown in IMAX and everything was going to be great! Eh, it was okay. I guess you could say I was highly disappointed in the film, coming from my standpoint of high expectations, but it wasn’t a bad film, just a completely average film that showcased nothing above and beyond that I thought it was going to.
Let’s start with the most important thing, the action scenes. I’m not going to get into the story, because it was so bare-bones and forgetful, but it ultimately doesn’t matter to me in a Bond flick. Each action scene was executed well, and Mendes did a fine, yet unspectacular job of directing, but there was no scene or moment that awed me or will stay with me. Unlike say, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, with scenes like the chase in the dust and that Dubai building scene which I’m still trying to shake. I’m having a hard time recalling all the action scenes from the film even a few days past, and even in watching I remembered the scarcity of them. The climax was underwhelming as Bond scenes usually work better in motion, not under the static heading of being bogged down in a big manor. The momentum was sucked out of the film, as the detour to the final action setpiece was devoid of any building of identity, and just seemed to serve as a “cool place for an ending” that the writers lazily had to get to. And can we also please talk about that goddamn Komodo dragon scene? Like, I know what they wanted to do, bringing in a weird animal trap or booby trap environment for Bond to fight himself out of, harkening back to some of the older films, but it was just incessantly dumb and silly. I might have been able to get through that scene without laughing if the CGI’ed Komodo dragons hadn’t looked like the drawing of a pre-schooler.
Another thing that bugged me, what was up with the Bond girls, they were basically non-existent? Now this shouldn’t be a problem for me, as I think the concept of “Bond girls” is juvenile and usually pretty exploitative. But, Sévérine, a member of Bardem’s villainous crew, is in like two scenes and serves no real purpose besides information and maybe it can be argued motivation for Bond, but I don’t buy that. Then there was Moneypenny who barely helps Bond in like two missions (basically almost kills him in one) and the shows up at the end. I get that this was basically just all setting up her characters’ position for future films, but she was absent for much of the film and added nothing, well, besides the attractiveness of Naomie Harris, which come to think of it was reason enough for her to be in the film.
Also, a quick note, why are they making this film kind of like a reboot and setting up all new characters, or a least positions, for future films. I get doing it, but this is Craig’s third film and it just seems weird doing it now, since it seems he only has a couple left in him. To be fair, I did hear rumours of the next films being more intrinsically linked, where this could all be paid off, but now it just seems unnecessary introducing these elements when typical Bond and MI6 circumstance were fine enough.
Man, I really didn’t think I had that much problems with the film, but writing it all out, more stuff just seems to come spilling out. Again, it was a fine film, if yet very average and forgetful, nothing really beyond Bardem that I imagine I’ll remember vividly from the film.
Okay, sooo, some good things now. Bardem was very good and entertaining as Silva, the main villain. He was perfectly able to stradle that line between “eccentric, funny type” and “actually menacing villain”. He wasn’t introduced until close to half-way in the film, and he was an immediate spark that injected some much needed energy to Bond’s drabness. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of him, and I was disappointed at how easily he was dispatched, but he remains the most memorable part of the movie, and probably my only real reason to want to re-watch.
I did also like the “Bond is getting too old for some of this shit” storyline that they tried to weave throughout, as I’m a sucker for older characters, who are increasingly past their prime, yet thrust into these circumstances. It wasn’t done entirely well, and I don’t know if it will really bode well for the future having a less spry Bond, than a younger athletic one, granted they actually follow through with all this in subsequent films. But, Craig definitely looked the part, as even at 44 he looks a lot older than his age would suggest.
This has gone on way too long, where basically all I really wanted to say is that Skyfall is a perfectly serviceable action film, but something which won’t have a lasting memory for me, even two days after watching it. And here I thought this would be my shortest review yet…