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Nov 12

James Bond: Skyfall

After a refresher course consisting of watching “Casino Royale” on DVD the night before, the delightful Kylanath and I took in “Skyfall” at the theater on Sunday afternoon. I found myself with so many thoughts that it actually nudged me out of my writerly doldrums enough to craft a journal post to contain them.

First up, the verdict: I liked it, much better than “Quantum of Solace” (and I don’t dislike that movie as much as most other folks, but still) and as much as “Casino Royale” but in a very different way.

Now for the bullet points, appropriate for a Bond movie, yes?

  • This movie is full of reveals, some of which work better than others. The really, really big one (I’m trying to stay spoiler-free, mind you) is telegraphed in several big and small ways throughout the movie. I saw it coming, is what I’m telling you, and I’m not actually the sort of person who sees things coming in a movie all that often. Another reveal got a smirk and a deep sigh at the same time. It’s that kind of film.
  • What kind of film is it, you ask? Well, think of all the dead seriousness you’ve become used to with the previous two films, then interleave it with smirking throwbacks to the cheesier days of pre-Craig outings. Yet in most cases the movie doesn’t jostle your elbow too badly when it changes tone, which is a neat trick. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
  • People have raved about the title song. It didn’t do anything special for me. It serves its purpose very well, but that purpose is “kick off a Bond movie,” so there you have it.
  • The main villain, for all that he doesn’t show up until halfway through, absolutely steals every scene he’s in. Javier Bardem is a hoot and a half, spending a few amusing moments at several points through the film wearing an expression I usually associate with one of the regulars on the TV show Leverage, as if to say: “Seriously?” Exasperated menace is an unusual combination, and it amused me greatly.
  • In this post-”Bourne” action film world, we’ve become far too used to fight scenes made up of hundreds of quick cuts. Imagine my joy, then, at the artsy little glass-room backlit silhouetted locked-off one-shot fight scene. It’s the little things which can make me love a movie. Brilliant touch, that one.
  • For all that I read a lot of snark online about the product placements and the in-jokes, none of them really jarred me out of the movie. I mean, I utterly despise the Sony Vaio, but what were they going to do? Make up a computer brand? Meh, whatever. And two of the in-jokes absolutely slayed the audience at our screening, so hooray for well-chosen quips.
  • At one point partway through we’re introduced to the movie title in a way which makes us wonder what deep, sinister meaning it might have. Is it a code word for something big & scary? Does it indicate that someone is compromised, that bad things are afoot? Turns out, all of my guesses were wrong, but the true meaning actually does make sense within the movie. Just, not to what you’d call the “A” plot. Interesting touch, interesting choice.
  • Every actor did a good job in this movie, and some were excellent. Yes, even the new Q. As much as I love John Cleese, I’m glad they didn’t try to shoehorn him into this. It wouldn’t have worked.
  • I would watch a movie in which Judi Dench and Daniel Craig solve grisly murders in the highlands of Scotland, complete with wry commentary and in-jokes and bickering. C’mon, so would you.
  • On the topic of reveals, the really-big reveal depends on another… event. Suffice to say that I was unhappy about it, even as I saw it coming, even as I realized that it was time to make that change. I’ll have to discuss my thoughts on that in a later, post-spoilers entry…
  • I have one quibble with the timeline of the three Craig movies, and that’s the implication here that his Bond has been at this a really long time. Which is odd, because “Casino Royale” is a movie about a brand-new double-oh earning his moniker. I mean, yes, you can work around that quibble easily enough with some mental gymnastics, but if this caught my attention then it probably bothered other viewers as well and it might bother you. Also: If this is an old, washed-up, out-of-shape guy… I wish I was in that crappy of a condition. Oy.
  • In the end, what we have is the conclusion to what I consider a reboot trilogy not entirely unlike Nolan’s Batman films. Get everyone’s attention, dig in deep, then drive home the deal. Whatever you may think of Nolan’s level of success, that seems to have at least been the plan, and it’s the same here. When the credits roll, you know for certain that Bond is back and it’s time for what could be considered “business as usual.” Which remains to be seen, but you know what? I don’t care how well or how badly they make the movies to follow. They did their job here, which is all I wanted from this outing.
  • “Skyfall” is a very, very pretty movie. There’s some scenery porn on display which is nearly up to the gold standard, by which I mean the Lord of the Rings films. The setting for the film’s grand bang-up finale? I want to go there.

So, if you like smart & entertaining action movies, go see “Skyfall.” If you enjoyed “Casino Royale” and want to see the promise of the reboot plotline redeemed, go see “Skyfall.” If you watched the last two movies and couldn’t stop griping about how it wasn’t a real Bond movie… well, you and I don’t have a lot to discuss, but you should probably go see “Skyfall” so you can gripe about it from a position of firsthand knowledge, at least.

Whew. Enough words for you?

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