Fifty years. That’s how old the James Bond movie franchise is.
And I suppose when a franchise is that old, it is time to try new things.
‘Let’s make it less about the guns, gals, and gadgets’ seems to have been the rallying cry behind this movie.
You should be. At least a little.
Because when you dispense with guns, gadgets and gals, you are left with talking. Oh so very much talking. And seriously, somebody needs to take screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan to task for the dialogue. This Bond (Daniel Craig) made his mark by keeping the word count down to a minimum–so when he said something one was allowed to believe that he really meant it.
Not this time.
It is all very well to make a stripped down, back-to-basics Bond; it is an entirely different thing to have that mean faux-Shakespearean (by way of the tale of Oedipus) dramatics. An ex-agent (Javier Bardem) wreaking havoc because he wants to punish M (Judi Dench) for what she did to him fifteen years ago? Come on now! Another new Q (Ben Whishaw)?–who might as well be regurgitating the lines John Cleese spoke when he took over from Desmond Llewelyn–no thanks!
And the Bond Girls! What happened? I understand we live in a world stifled by political correctness so it is no longer okay for them to be overtly sexual or continue to have those comically nasty names but why do they also need to be ladies who struggle with simple lines? And are about as seductive as pizza dough?
This is not to say that Skyfall is a total loss.
Mr. Bardem does enough to make the role his own. Mr. Craig continues to redefine Bond to an extent where it becomes possible to forget all those that went before him. In a sense he seems to bring Double-Oh-Seven to life in the way Ian Fleming must actually have seen him, albeit in a different era. The Shanghai sequence is beautiful, the moment with the scorpion is nicely timed, and the first time Silva (Bardem) sits down opposite Bond is masterfully uncomfortable.
Also, there is no faulting Roger Deakins’ cinematography. When he is playing with shadows, or reflections, or just the steely glint in Mr. Craig’s eyes, he is making visual magic happen.
I believe Skyfall is worth watching once. But I had such a bad reaction to all the clunky lines that I will shy away from seeking it out a second time. At least until the memory of my first viewing fades completely away.