Tuesday, November 13, 2012
11-11-12 Purists brace yourselves. SKYFALL is a very, very diferent type of James Bond film. Yet from the opening sequences to the last credit that rolled by, it is an immensely satisfying and hugely entertaining movie. Many are already denouncing it for it's dark tone and atypically downbeat ending, but these are two of the main things that make it the most gritty and emotionally-evocative chapter of the franchise. I've also read several negative comments on the "slow pace" of the first part. I failed to notice a slow pace in any of it's two and a half hour length. It's a nail-biter through and through. It's difficult to extoll upon it's virtues without spoiling it for those who haven't yet seen it, but suffice to say that it redeems the franchise from the morass where 'Quantum of Solace' left it, and elevates it above the lofty heights that 'Casino Royale' had once lifted it to. It features a more flawed and human James Bond, and reveals enough of his origin and childhood to show why and how he became such a tough, hard, and cold man. His journey 'back from the grave' to active service, delivers him into the midst of an operation to kill 'M', meticulously planned by Javier Bardem's oddly sexual super-villain Silva. That's right, his aim is not world domination, but the death of 'M'. That is only one of many things signifying the departure from the cookie-cutter scripts the franchise fell into early on. Dame Dench gets lots of much deserved screentime in this one, and for good reason. Ralph Fiennes is superb as a has-been special forces officer turned bureaucrat hostile to the very existence of Bond and MI6. To see him then man up and help their cause when the chips are down is one of SKYFALL's few rays of light. The Bond girls are more alluring, smarter, more dangerous, and more tragic than ever. Albert Finney, a genuine treasure of British cinema, shows up as an old retainer of the Bond family, and is a pleasure to watch. When he dispatches two assassins with blasts from his ancient double-barrel shotgun and snarls "Welcome ta Scotland!" the audience cheered! SPOILER ALERT: Daniel Craig utters the movies other great but totally unexpected line - "Why are you so sure it's my first time?" This is taken, literally and contextually, from the excellent but under-rated Clint Eastwood thriller "Tightrope". In short, it is not a typical Bond outing in either story or tone though the requisite elements - sex and violence and lush cinematography are all there, Bond is tougher than ever but is far from bulletproof and far from unflappable, and all is not well in merry old England in the end. BUT - this movie is an utterly successful reboot of the series and while Daniel Craig remains as the most visually unlikely 007 ever, he does become James Bond in this movie. Worth the price of admission and every second spent in the seat.