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.
I will preface this with a disclaimer: I am a fan of Daniel Craig. I am a fan of Bond movies. I am not a fan of Daniel Craig as James Bond.
Skyfall starts with a bang, literally, killing James Bond on a failed mission. Then the opening credits start. The theme music, performed by Adele, didn’t impress me on its own, but works quite well to set the mood. You get a sense from the slightly psychedelic 70s vibe that the movie will give a nod or two to the classic Bond movies of old.
The ‘theme’ of this caper is meant to be “old ways” versus “new ways”, I know this because several characters actually tell us so. The script makes several forays into the Bond canon*, perhaps in an attempt to ensure we fully accept Craig as Bond, once and for all. Unfortunately, though I enjoyed the “see, we remember where Bond came from” parts, what comes after the opening credits pales in comparison to those opening scenes.
For one, Javier Bardem, so juicily evil in No Country For Old Men, is sadly flat in Skyfall. Though Bond villains are historically cheesy and one-dimensional, Silva (Bardem) is just…blah. He has the requisite isolated lair, the army of loyal minions, the frightened beauty who betrays him to Bond – and delivers Bond to him. He just has no real menace.
Naomie Harris is a bright spot as Eve, and likely to be around for a few more installments of the franchise. Albert Finney is a happy moment as Kincade. Ralph Fiennes, always reliable, certainly doesn’t disappoint as Gareth Mallory, the new boss intent on securing the resignation of M (Judi Dench). A good cast, overall.
Like Casino Royale, this movie works as an action movie, but not as a Bond movie – unless you are new to Bond. An old fogey like me, still be hung up on the previous winning formula, would easily accept Daniel Craig as any other MI6 officer . . . just not 007.
It was an enjoyable film, full of gunfights and espionage, so it will do well with my friends. I’ll give it a 3.5, and it has inspired me to add Quantum of Solace to my queue so I can give it a whirl.
* They also end this movie having put a decisive end to some iconic Bond bits, which seems a winking way of saying, “Get over it, Sean Connery isn’t coming back”
Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 92%; Audience 89%