My apologies to all seven of my loyal readers for my absence. Hopefully I'll be able to do a little better now that things are really starting to heat up, cinematically speaking.
Today I'll be talking about Eon Production's 23rd James Bond installment, Skyfall. This really is the most impressive Bond I've seen in quite a while. Director Sam Mendes brings him back to top classic form, and also gives him a deeper personal side that had been absent since, well, Dr. No. As all good Bond movies, it is a perfect distillation of the mood of the day, and an observation of the flavor we like our heroes to have.
In the hands of nearly any director, this movie could have very easily slipped into nostalgic ramblings and sentimental mire. Instead with Mendes we get a crucial look into the Bond enigma. So much of what has made him so appealing is that we really didn't know all that much about him. But I think 50 years is long enough to not know about your protagonist. Here we see the kind of depth that Casino Royale started to create before Quantum of Solace interrupted. Mind you, this movie is not simply a meditation on character. I consider it the most complete Bond movie since Goldfinger or Thunderball, and you don't have to be a Bond nerd to enjoy it. There is definitely enough to keep you on the edge of your seat to the end.
The story itself is simple, even typical enough: a cyberterrorist named Silva is releasing names of undercover MI6 operatives on the internet in an effort to get at M. The great thing is everything that happens around that. Javier Bardem plays Silva, and is the best he's been since No Country for Old Men. He can take his place as one of the mere handful of great Bond villains to date. Of course we get Dame Judy Dench reprising her role as M, and Ralph Fiennes appears as a bureaucrat responsible for her retirement. All the players are splendid, and in their hands this becomes more than just an action flick.
I said earlier that this is one of the most complete Bond movies ever. That is because it so successfully plays off of the classic Bond archetypes. It just feels "Bondy", which, oddly, is kind of uncommon. There are all of these great moments when one is reminded that this is why you like James Bond. His wit hasn't been this sharp in fifteen years. Overall it is just a great movie, and I'm glad of the direction the franchise is taking. Haters will call it just another Dark Knight because of its melancholy overtones and the acknowledgment of characters' weakness, but I don't really agree with that. I think that more discerning and even skeptical audiences are requiring their heroes to be a little more vulnerable and accessible than they once were, and this Bond gives them just that. He is nowhere near where Connery or Moore or even Brosnan ever were. But then, neither are we. The Bond for the new century has fully arrived.
This week I have Wreck-it Ralph, Flight, Argo and Lincoln to catch up with, and Hitchcock, Silver Linings Playbook, Rise of the Guardians and Life of Pi are all out as of now, so we'll see what wins the fight to be seen next, and pretend that Twilight never happened. Let me know if there is anything you'd like to me see, that might make it a little easier.
by Chase Harrison