This is the first Bond film in 31 years to receive an Oscar nomination, and it didn’t just receive one; it got five – more than any other Bond film. (1981’s For Your Eyes Only was the last to receive one.) Of the five nominations – Original Song, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Cinematography – the best chance it has of winning is for Adele’s title song. The nomination for Original Score puzzles me since the only part of the entire score that added anything to the film is when they used the traditional Bond theme during a key moment in the film.
Unlike the last Bond film, this one is standalone. You could watch it never having seen any other Bond movie before. The film opens with Bond (Daniel Craig) trying to retrieve a stolen harddrive. It contains the names of every British agent embedded with terrorist organizations. Unlike Mission Impossible, though, the bad guys didn’t need to break into an ultra-secure computer room; MI-6 just let an agent take the file to
on his laptop. Assisting Bond on this mission is Eve (Naomie Harris). Bond ends up on top of a train fighting a bad guy. Eve can’t get a clear shot, but M (Judi Dench) orders her to shoot anyway. Eve hits Bond, who presumably falls to his death…except it’s the opening credits so I don’t think even a five year old would believe he was really dead. Turkey
M’s reputation is damaged by the loss of these names, and it is further tarnished by a cyber attack on MI-6 headquarters. A new boss, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), tells her it’s time to retire. She refuses until she can find out who is behind all of this. Bond sees the attack on the news and comes back from the dead to work for M. She sends him to
where, after a series of events, the bad guy finally appears…70 minutes into the movie. Javier Bardem plays Silva, the man in question. His entrance is the best non-action part of the movie. I won’t spoil why he has it in for M. Shanghai
I mentioned above that this film finally tosses a few bones to the longtime Bond fans. We get the re-introduction of Bond’s quartermaster, aka Q (Ben Whishaw). Much is made of his pimply-faced youth, but the actor playing him is actually 32 years old. When people heard Q was going to be in the movie, director Sam Mendes says that everyone he knew kept excitedly asking him whether gadgets were going to be used in the movie, too. In an interview on the Blu-ray, Mendes says that gadgets were fun in the earlier movies because they were something you couldn’t own. He says that nowadays the pinnacle of all gadgets is the cell phone, and that since everyone owns one, there’s no point in having gadgets in a Bond film anymore. To drive this home, in the film Bond is seriously underwhelmed when all Q provides him with is a gun and a tracker. Q disdainfully responds, “What did you expect? An exploding pen?” It’s a big, old middle finger from Mendes to the longtime Bond fans (and the film Goldeneye).
Hold on, though. It’s different when it’s something Mendes is fond of. Another nice touch for the fans is the appearance of the classic Aston Martin from Goldfinger. Guess why it’s in the film – because Mendes loved it as a kid and even had a toy version of it with an ejector seat. And it’s not just the car itself that appears; it has all the gadgets in it that Mendes loved as a kid, including the ejector seat and machine guns.
At the top I referred to Skyfall as a “shut your brain off and eat popcorn” movie. That’s not saying that it’s bad. It’s saying that it is a fun movie if you don’t think about it too much. Silva’s evil plan requires so many improbable things to happen, in the right sequence and at the right time, for it to go correctly that the villain from
Arlington Road (1999) would be envious. And almost all of Silva’s actions are irrelevant to his ultimate goal of humiliating and killing M. At one point I had the phrase “sharks with frickin’ lasers” pop into my head. Another WTF moment is when computer genius Q hooks the laptop of the bad guy computer hacker into the MI-6 network. Gee, I wonder if something bad might be on the laptop.
The best part of the film, for me, is that we got to learn quite a bit about Bond’s past. I believe one other film had mentioned that his parents were dead, but that was it. In regards to the movies, Skyfall greatly expands the Bond backstory. By the way, the title of the film is related to this backstory. We meet an elderly Scottish gamekeeper (an almost unrecognizable Albert Finney) who knew Bond as a child. You can just tell that this role was written with Sean Connery in mind. Somewhere along the way someone was smart enough to figure out that if Connery was in the film everyone would be watching him and not Craig.
If you’re an action guy or gal there are a number of scenes that will keep your blood pumping. Motorcycle chases are among the classic Bond elements and this film uses it to its advantage. There are also a couple of train sequences that are highly improbable, but fun to watch.
If you’re a Bond fan, you’re going to see this film no matter what. If you’re only a fan of the rebooted Bond, then this gives you all the superhuman Bond action that you’ve come to expect. If you’re a fan of Bond back when he was Bond and not Bourne, then I’m afraid he’s still much more of a brawler and much less of a thinker. In all these cases, I recommend you give this film a try.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
DVD Blu-ray Instant Video
DVD Blu-ray Instant Video