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Review: Skyfall

Columbia Pictures: Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in "Skyfall"As someone who began to pay attention to the world of espionage back with the release of The Bourne Identity, I’ve always found myself avoiding movies centered around James Bond. The Bond movies have always been a little too corny for my taste and they didn’t focus on anything that appeared to be realistic. The truth is, that if it wasn’t for the fact that I review movies now, I wouldn’t even think about watching Skyfall. Not only that, but this Bond film is actually the first one of the franchise that I’ve watched from beginning to end.

I’ve tried and failed to watch a few Bond flicks in the past, but I’ve never been able to get through an entire film featuring the iconic British spy that’s celebrated by millions of fans worldwide. Despite never making through a full movie about the adventures of Bond, I do know a good bit about his character and what he’s meant to pop culture through the years. For what it’s worth, I’ve also played and enjoyed a few of the games based on the character with Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64 being my personal favorite.

The fact of the matter is I’ve always found that stuff to be cheesy and I had a difficult time believing that he was a super spy. Spies are supposed to keep a low profile, but everyone seemed to always know who he was. Not only did they know him, but they all knew him by his real name. You would think that a super spy would be a little more discreet in his dealings with people and maybe he’d use a few disguises and covers along the way.

The other thing that I didn’t like about the Bond movies was his constant knack for getting caught by his enemy only to have them decide to talk to him at length, tell him their entire plan and then leave as they set him up in an elaborate and deadly device that would end his life once it completed whatever it was programmed to do to him. You would think that an evil genius like the villains who create these contraptions would want to stay and watch the great 007 meet his maker, but apparently they’d get more joy out of leaving the scene and thinking that he won’t make it.

Obviously, Bond manages to escape this sophisticated death trap by the skin of his teeth and saves the day in all of these situations. I never understood how it made sense for a diabolical evil villain to want Bond killed only to leave before he himself gets to see it happen. Don’t you think it would make more sense to stay around to make sure it goes down properly? In the world of 007, that’s apparently not the case.

Anyway, Skyfall is the 23rd movie in this long running franchise and it features the latest adventure of Mr. Bond (Daniel Craig) himself. Bond is also celebrating his 50th anniversary this year, so it’s only fitting that the latest film would be debuting now.In the latest adventure we see Mr. Bond jet setting around through exotic locals, like Shanghai, Macau, Istanbul and London, the home of MI6 headquarters.

If you’ve seen Taken 2, you’ll notice the one of the action sequences looks similar to what we see in one of Bond’s action scenes. They go over some of the exact same territory and rooftops, so you won’t be able to miss it if you seen Liam Neeson’s latest failure of a movie.

The dilemma that Britain’s most popular super spy must stare down in Skyfall involves a conspiracy that may force Bond to have no choice, but to question M (Judi Dench) and everything that she supposedly stands for. An issue arises from her past that not only causes trouble in her life, but it also may present danger to some of the others who have devoted themselves to MI6, Britain’s version of the CIA.

The man behind this is a mysterious man (Javier Bardem). He may have an axe to grind and he’s using multiple MI6 agents as pawns in his game of death. Bond knows that he’s on borrowed time, and he must prevent things from getting completely out of hand. 007 must utilize everything that makes him who he is as Britain’s best. He must use his cunning brilliance, his fighting skills, his agility and his craftiness. Being the consummate ladies man, you know Bond had take advantage of the bevy of lovely ladies at his disposal.

When dealing with all of those lofty tasks that he has on his latest mission, Bond runs into a somewhat unfamiliar wall that he hasn’t really had to come face to face with before. See, the long time master of espionage is getting older and appears to be past his prime by the look of things. Along with his age and rust, James also has to confront the realization that he’s viewed as a dinosaur of sorts in this new technologically dependent age.

Throughout Skyfall, they focus on this “past vs present” dynamic quite a bit. It’s one of the things that they use to pass the time by while we sit through the usual action sequences and paranoia. It also sets up for the inevitable point when the past and the present kind of butt heads. Because Bond has been around for 50 years now, I don’t like the fact that they used this as part of the story. It doesn’t really amount to anything meaningful even though there are some fun features that come out of it as a result.

The most important part of Skyfall to me is all of the espionage that I believed that I was going to witness. Seeing as Bond is a spy and this world is based in the shadows, it’s only natural that I would expect to see it. While I did get a chance to see what director Sam Mendes and his crew had in mind, it didn’t deliver as much as I would have thought. The truth is, there’s not much happening as far as spying is concerned. They didn’t even use many of those Bond gadgets that have been hovering around in pop culture for decades.

Under normal circumstances, I can ignore the lack of gadgets in films or books set in a world filled with espionage, but I can’t look past the fact that Skyfall includes very little espionage. Throughout Skyfall,various characters use terms like “fighting in the shadows” to drive home the point that they’re spies. My problem with that is the fact that they are right out in the open through most of the film and they almost never show anyone working in the proverbial and ostensible shadows that we rarely get a glimpse of as an audience. Couldn’t they have taken the time to actually add a few more spy type situations for us dude?

What is seen in Skyfall isn’t all bad or anything. Visually, the film is pretty nice to look at. That’s to be expected based on what I’ve seen from the video games that I played and the little that I’ve seen in earlier Bond movies. I have to give the creators behind this stuff a bunch of props for making this film easy on the eyes.

Not only did I enjoy looking at the scenery in Skyfall, I can also say that there are some exceptional action sequences that receive a satisfactory stamp of approval from yours truly. None of it is revolutionary or mind-blowing, but it’s sufficient enough to pass the typical action movie grade. I guess that can also be perceived as a bad thin if you consider this film to be a spy film. This is an out and out action movie and classifying it any other way would be completely false.

With this being the first full Bond experience, I have to say that I am a little disappointed with what I saw.  Skyfall isn’t a bad movie, but there’s nothing that truly standout. If you took James Bond and everything that has to do with him out of this film, you’d have action movie with a story and events that’s been rather commonplace for as long as I can remember. I don’t know how well this sells if removed any of that stuff, but the truth is there’s not  a bunch of new or innovative things.

In my humble opinion, I believe that there should be some things placed in a Bond movie that makes it feel like a Bond movie. If you’re creating a story about a legendary character who has a long history, you have to do whatever it takes to make him stand out from the bunch as he shows who’s boss and flex’s his muscles. To be honest with you, I think Sam Mendes and the gang failed at doing that. With all of that being said, fans of Bond or fans who just want to see some action may find Skyfall to be enjoyable, and I can’t argue against that.

I won’t say that Skyfall is a bad movie, because it isn’t. It’s just not all it could have been when it was all said and done. Will it make me a fan of James Bond? No, but it at least opened me up to the potential of seeing more of these films in the future. I managed to get through this entire film and it wasn’t as cheesy or as corny as I thought it was going to be. That’s a good thing for me.

Score: 2.5/5

Rating: PG-13

Director: Sam Mendes

Cast:
Daniel Craig
Javier Bardem
Ralph Fiennes
Naomie Harris
Berenice Marlohe
Ben Whishaw
Helen McCrory
Rory Kinear
Albert Finney
Judi Dench

Film Length: 145 minutes

Release Date: November 9, 2012

Distributor: Columbia Pictures

2 comments

  1. Glad I wasn’t the only one that noticed those same rooftops from Taken 2! I forgot to mention that in my review, but as I watched the movie I was like: “I’ve seen this place before. I recognize those shingles.” hahaha.

    I agree with your notions of Bond films being cheesy and ridiculously the same in a lot of ways But that’s part of what makes them great. The more recent ones take a stab at being a bit more realistic and while Skyfall wasn’t the BEST, I am of the opinion that it’s a little better than just middle of the road. But that’s only my opinion.

    Thanks for sharing yours. Nice write up here.

    • I haven’t seen the other Bond movies, but I’ve heard this one was more realistic. I even read someone say that it was The Dark Knight version of Bond movies.

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