Saturday, November 3, 2012

Skyfall

By Sati. Saturday, November 3, 2012 , , , , , , , ,
James Bond - probably the most famous secret agent in cinema, womanizer, fan of fancy cars and shaken martinis. The series is 50 years old and Skyfall is 23rd movie in it. James Bond movies have become an iconic series - sequels happen, prequels happen, different franchises appear, but for decades now there was one certainty - that there will be new 007 movie. Hugely successful series, where gigantic amount of money comes not only from movies but also from commercials, contracts and the appeal of the things 007 uses on screen has had its ups and downs. Skyfall belongs in later category.

The film has quite fresh formula for Bond flick - 007 is shot in the prologue and M even writes his obituary. Bond is spending his days, as usual, banging hot chicks and having drinks on the beach, pretending to be dead. That is until MI6 is attacked and he decides to come back. The target of the attacks seems to be M, who gets threatening videos which ominously say "think on your sins". Bond vows to find person responsible, who also appears to be the one that stole the list of secret agents and by slowly exposing it, threatens the safety of every single agent in the field.
Skyfall, as every Bond movie, takes us to many different locations. We travel from Turkey, to London, then to Shanghai, Macau until we end on the moors of Scotland. Skyfall is definitely one of the most beautiful movies of the year - the cinematography is absolutely spectacular, most notably in the Shanghai sequence where Bond is creeping up to the assassin in the high building, while neon lights hit the window, partially obscuring him with beautiful colors. What I particularly loved about the look of the movie is how each segment looked differently - from the sunny Turkey, through colorful and vibrant Shanghai and sensual and mysterious Macau to the most beautiful part of the movie - solemn, hostile and strangely gorgeous Scotland.

What bothered me about Quantum of Solace, previous chaotic installment of the series, was the choppy and messy editing and the lack of thought in the execution of the movie - the story, as simple as it was, was actually hard to follow due to all the gimmickry. Thankfully, Skyfall, which was directed by the Academy Award winning director of American Beauty Sam Mendes, doesn't have this problem - the action flows smoothly, especially in exciting prologue of the film and various chase sequences. Even more compact action pieces like courtroom shootout manage to be impressive and flawlessly planned out and executed.
Skyfall is extremely well paced film, at least for the first two thirds of it. The story is quite simple, yet it manages to engage the viewer - mostly because where the film goes slower and focuses on the characters it manages to replace fast action with suspense. The film is much more focused when it comes to characters and the relationships between them than the previous installments on the series. This time things get personal - Bond has to protect M, the woman whom he respects and who was in his life for a long time. The villain in the film also has a personal connection to her and if the things were different, if the things that happened to him happened to 007, who knows if the parts wouldn't be turned.

We also get a bit more insight into the character of 007 - the movie's final showdown takes place in the remote location from Bond's past. It will also explain the title of the film. While Daniel Craig, in my opinion, was much better when he was a bad ass with few very subtle and lovely moments in Casino Royale, he was very good here. Does he play secret agent well? Yes. Does he play a hero well? Yes. Does he play 007 well? Not really and that's the problem.
Craig is without a doubt a talented actor and a good looking man. He has charisma, but he doesn't have enough charisma to pull off suave, cool ladies man. He lacks certain charm, certain 007 magic. While Bond movies with him in the lead role are very cool action thrillers, I wouldn't call them excellent 007 movies. To be fair they weren't excellent ever since Sean Connery stopped being Bond. When you saw Connery in these movies you didn't wonder how come all of those girls took off their lingerie for him. You were wondering how the hell their lingerie didn't fly off when they saw him. Craig just doesn't have that. He does a good job, he doesn't weaken the movie, but I don't think he was the right choice for the part to begin with.

The supporting cast is very strong. Judi Dench gives the strongest performance out of her work as M in the series so far. While the script doesn't exactly give her enough of juicy moments to warrant any award acclaim she is very good, delivering the best performance in the movie. Ralph Fiennes makes his debut in the series as Mallory, bureaucrat who acts as right hand of Prime Minister in MI6, though he has many surprises up his sleeve. Fiennes is fantastic here and I'm very excited about him being in the series, especially considering the film's ending. Ben Whishaw is very amusing as younger and more hip Q and he has great chemistry with Daniel Craig - their scenes provide a lot of humour and witty lines.
Bond villains were never particularly memorable for me, except for the guy with iron teeth and Famke Janssen as a chick who strangled guys with her thighs in Goldeneye. Javier Bardem was very memorable here, though. His character is crazier than his Oscar winning Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men. Bardem's Silva acts and looks completely batshit crazy. There are people who compare Skyfall to Nolan's Batman trilogy and I must say that for me the biggest similarity lies in the unpredictable, brilliant villain - many plot devices here are even the same as with The Joker in The Dark Knight - people warning the protagonist about how crazy and dangerous the villain is, the police officer disguise, the daring escape from imprisonment.

However, I felt that PG 13 rating was yet again a big red flag for writers creativity. We keep hearing things about Silva - about how crazy he is. About how violent and dangerous he is. The thing is, that if it wasn't for Bardem's excellent performance and his creepy look, I would not get that from the movie. He shoots one chick in the head and blows up some stuff. Had they threw in some good old fashioned torture scene or the flashback to his imprisonment days that would make the movie far better and gave some more depth and actual danger to his character. But then the movie wouldn't earn the big bucks, so why on earth would anyone threw in something fresh and edgy, when it's money that's the most important thing here.
That said there is one particularly memorable moment in the movie where Silva and M meet face to face as he is sitting in a glass cell. That scene reminded me of the Silence of the Lambs and it's always a good thing. It was suspenseful, freaky and genuinely well made. It's M and Silva that shone here, while Bond was in the background, which was a good move - this film focuses a little more on M and the villain than the other movies in the series. Hell, the Bond girls are basically talking props here, though Bérénice Marlohe, as the Bond chick number 2 aka the one who has good riddance sex and always dies, has very good scene where she lets Bond see just how much afraid she is. Naomie Harris delivers likable character and there is a very cool twist with her in the end of the movie.

Now, I'm no Bond expert. I could name the actors who played the part, but I wold have a difficult to name the titles of more than half of films in the series. But from what I heard Skyfall has references to every single previous Bond movie, which I think it's pretty cool. I noticed some of those and I thought it was a really nice thing to do that. So all of you Bond buffs - I'm certain you will have a great time discovering all the little nods and homages.
One of the things that the series is the most known for are the opening titles. The song we hear during them is always a big deal - this time it's sung by Adele and it's very good, especially comparing to such recent nightmares as Madonna's Die Another Day. The opening titles look very beautiful and are definitely eye catching. The score by Thomas Newman is wonderful and we hear iconic Bond theme in a very cool moment, involving a car that is very dear to 007's heart.

Skyfall is not without flaws - it has many cliche elements, ridiculous plot points (such as Bond's "brilliant" plan to go alone with elderly woman to the middle of nowhere in order to protect her from heavily armed men) and the third act of the film drags a lot. However,  the ending is very nice and elegant and overall the film is very entertaining. It's not groundbreaking in any way but it's much better than the previous film, even better than Casino Royale.


Skyfall (2012, 143 min)
Plot: Bond's loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem and Naomie Harris
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36 comments:

  1. Great review man.
    I cheered at the part when he jumps on the train and fixes his suit. I honestly thin he's so much more "Bond" in this film. Them suits.

    I think what is going to plummet this film probably to my top 10 of this year is the look. Crazy about that.

    Also can't get Adele's Skyfall out of my head. I love the credits.

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    1. Thank you!

      It was a fun part, same with the chase after Silva in disguise, loved the exchange between Bond and Q, very funny and Bondish.

      I love the cinematography, I hope they will get nominated for that. Such a great looking film.

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  2. I'm seeing this on Wednesday, and am actively anticipating it.

    Glad you enjoyed, even if you Craig is still not the right man for the job.

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    1. Hope you'll like it! It's a very entertaining movie, though it slows down significantly near the end.

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  3. I'm so eager to see this film. Notably for the return of Q who is my favorite character of the Bond series.

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    1. Q was realy awesome here, I think he may be the only cinematic hipster I actually like :)

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  4. I'm gonna stay away from reading the review as I'm still waiting to see it.. though, I think I should watch Craig's first Bond movie. Yeah, I think he is okay but I'm not a big fan, I loved Connory as a Bond though, he was hawt as hell!

    I like the gif though, seems very Bondish but for me, I never did get on a Bond-train.

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    1. Yeah, I was never huge fan of the series either, Casino Royale is good, Quantuum of Solace is mediocre but the beginning of the movie has some of the worst editing I've seen.

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  5. Love the film and this review. I know people have begun speculating on who next to play Bond, but I'd like to see Craig and Sam Mendes in at least another film.

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    1. Thank you! I heard a rumour there will be 2 more Bond movies with Criag.

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  6. Nice review. I actually love both of the previous Craig films, so I'm glad to hear it's better than them. Can't. Wait. :)

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    1. Thanks! I liked it much more than the other films, the villain was better and the story was more engaging.

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  7. Great review here, Sati. I'm not a huge Bond fan, but I am looking forward to seeing this. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much!

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    1. Thank you! Definetly one of the better movies of the year so far.

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  8. Nice! Great review. Not released here until the 22nd of November, so I have a little bit of a wait, but I'm looking forward to it, for the entertainment, 'pop-corn flick' value of it alone!

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    1. Thank you! It's definetly a very entertaining movie!

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  9. Better than Casino Royale is high praise indeed. I'm looking forward to seeing this in the Imax.

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    1. I thought Casino Royale was so-so, good movie but pretty forgettable overall.

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  10. Wahoo! That's a pretty high rating for a non-Bond fan like you Sati, I'm thrilled to hear that. Yes I'm not fond of Quantum but I adore Casino Royale. I'm curious to see how this one stacks up amongst Craig's Bond flicks so far.

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    1. I think it's the best out of Bond movies with Craig, I liked Casino Royale but it didn't have such an exciting story as Skyfall.

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  11. Solid review. Cant say I disagree with anything you've said. I remember thinking that Javier's Silva was very similar to The Dark Knight's Joker too! Thought Heath Ledger would have made a great Silva.

    Very personal and insulated Bond film. Compared to the others. Loved it for that very reason.

    And yes, I might have almost jumped for joy when I saw the DB5. Beautiful car!!!

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    1. Thanks! Ledger would be good with everything, but I don't think he could look freakier than Bardem did here.

      That was a great car, when Silva destroyed it was such a dick move :)

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  12. Great review Sati, I can't wait to see this as I'm a huge James Bond fan.

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    1. Thanks! I think you'll love it, it's tailor made for Bond fans!

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    2. Just thought you'd like to know, I've reviewed this on my blog.

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  13. Glad you liked it. I agree with what you said about Bardem. I think I just preferred Casino Royale slightly, I loved Vesper and Bond's relationship in that film.

    Fantastic review.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah Vesper and Bond were great togther but all in all I prefer the fresh focus here, with Bond girls kinda in the backgrund :)

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  14. Along the way, there's a number of things that I'd disagree with you on, but at the end of the day, I'm glad we both like this movie. :) Lets say that, high level.

    Glad you pointed out the cinematography (which was incredible), and honestly, I'll agree to an extent about Craigs Bond lacking a little of the 007 magic. That's one of my big complaints about this movie as a Bond fan, that this guy is miserable. LOL. I wouldnt trade my life for his for $1,000,000!

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    1. Haha, how about just trade your life for the part when he was on the island banging that hot chick and drinking on the beach?:P Still, he looked kinda sad there too, nothing works for this guy! :)

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  15. Great review Sati, I agree with everything you said- the visuals were amazing, especially the Shanghai scene, and I also liked the fact it had different cinematography for each "episode". Definitely one of the year's best for me, too!

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    1. Thank you! I think it will be in my top 15 this year :) Bardem will definetly make my line up!

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  16. Interesting, I felt the opposite about the pacing of the film. I thought the beginning part dragged, but once we meet Silva it becomes a lot more captivating.

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    1. Silva parts in the 2nd act were cool but for me the whole Scotland segment went on for too long.

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  17. For me the movie didn't drag at any point, I was thoroughly entertained all the way through from beginning to end - on each viewing ;) and simply one of the most fun movies I've ever seen.

    Gotta say I completely disagree about Craig vs Connery. I've never personally understood why women would have wanted Connery's Bond, whereas with Craig's Bond I totally get it. Connery's Bond was too full of himself, and often a complete jerk with women, and more than anything often makes me want to slap or kick him.
    To me Craig is perfect for the role in every sense, including this aspect. His Bond is... well, I find that type of amazing intensity combined with vulnerability and wit appealing, and the guy gets the sensual, flirty and respect ingredients just right.

    Needless to say, there will never ever be a Bond everyone would agree on and be totally happy with. But I'm totally happy with this one myself.

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    1. I think it's just different for every girl out there - I always felt Connery had this charm and something animalistic to him which I found sexy. When Craig is flirting with a woman in these movies, I just don't buy it.

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  18. I still believe Sean Connery was the best Bond but Craig does an excellent job of Portraying the main character. Good movie, definitely a departure from usual bond movies.

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