Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: John Logan, Neal Purvis, and Robert Wade
Watch out for: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, a smoking hot Bérénice Marlohe
Pitch: Someone is trying to kill James Bond’s boss. But they’ll have to go through Bond first.
Aside from Bond himself, three things make a good Bond movie:
- Grand action set pieces
- A memorable villain
- An insanely hot Bond girl
Going by these criteria, this could possibly be one of the best Bond movies ever and is a great tribute to everything that made the Bond franchise so popular!
Bam bam boom!
It starts with the action, and it delivers. To quote Gabrielle Union* from that cheerleader movie, this movie BRINGS IT! I don’t normally associate Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) as an action director, but this movie has tons of it, and it’s some of the best action you’ll ever see. I mean, seriously… the action starts from the first scene, and it just keeps exploding and exploding at breakneck pace, and every set piece feels different enough that you’ll never get tired of it.
And the best part? Bond always keeps his composure and suaveness, maintaining a strong sense of identity that sets it apart from other action blockbuster movies.
Characters with character
The Daniel Craig Bonds do a lot to make the protagonist more than just a walking penis with a martini and a gun. This movie continues that trend, with a lot of screen time spent dealing with the relationship between Bond and M, which humanizes the character. I can’t really go into that without giving away too much, so let’s just leave it at I like that, and I’d like to see more of this humanizing element in the next movie.
As the new Bond villain, Javier Bardem looks a little bit ridiculous with his blonde hair, but once you hear his introductory monologue, you’ll know that this is not someone to mess with. To give the character that extra dimension, Bardem mixed up the menace with some funny quirks that gives the character a lot of charm and screen presence… though that powerful rage is always hiding just under the surface.
A pet peeve of mine is a villain that is evil for the sake of being evil. Nothing bores me more than that, and that’s why I really enjoyed Bardem’s character. And his motives are so plausible, I almost rooted for him. But as sympathetic as he is, I never stopped fearing him… and that makes a great villain.
Now if Naomie Harris was the sole Bond girl of Skyfall, the film’s rating would take a massive sack. She’s pretty and all, but mostly she’s annoying and quite pointless.
But Bérénice Marlohe as Severine… DAYUM! Not since Monica Belluci in The Matrix Revolutions has an actress heated up a movie like this. And it’s more than just the amazing boobs and cleavage too; they’ve got her rocking a barely-there dress, her smoky eyes are just captivating, and basically she’s hot.
It really doesn’t matter that her character is quite inconsequential. She’s just ridiculously hot, like an Olga Kurylenko with bigger boobs.
Shame about the story
But just when you thought this would be a perfect 5-star movie, there are some problems with it that I can’t quite overlook, and they deal mainly with the film’s story.
Firstly is the theme that Bond, M, and their era of field agents are made obsolete by technology and cyber-villains, but of course, Bond shows them that some British grit and a smack in the face can still get things done that no computers can. It’s a really nice idea, and it plays up quite well with many nods to the nostalgic Bond of yesteryear (especially since this film celebrates the 50th anniversary of Bond).
The problem with this “brute action vs cyber-smarts” theme is that it’s already been done in Die Hard 4.0, except instead of an American cop in a white tank top and a Beretta 92, we’ve got a British spy in a suit and a Walther PPK. That said, Skyfall is still a much more enjoyable movie with much better action and more thrilling sequences.
Another area where the plot falters is that it jumps around without ever looking back. You don’t notice at the time because the action is so engrossing, but on hindsight there are a lot of plot holes scattered throughout the story. Some characters come in and disappear quickly, and entire plots are MacGuffins just to set up the final act. Actually, it feels like a bunch of different ideas cut and pasted together sometimes.
Speaking of that last act, it just really lets the movie down. The film distinctly kicks into a lower gear at this point, and the pace slows down to really pad the film’s running time up to its epic 2 1/2 hours.
It’s like everyone’s run out of juice by now, and it transitions from a Die Hard 4.0-esque movie to a Home Alone movie… except this time Home Alone did it better. I guess the action just doesn’t match up to the standards set by the first two acts, although the emotional resolution is a good pay-off.
I’m ripping into the story quite a bit, but what it does do well is add a surprising amount of warmth and humor. The audience in my screening laughed a lot more than I thought they should’ve, but it was definitely a fun time with many quirky moments and exchanges between Bond and his pals.
The long running time and spotty story could be experience-killers in another movie, but here they’re just blemishes in an otherwise perfect movie. It’s kinda like those close-up shots of Bérénice Marlohe. You can see that the makeup is definitely hiding some pores (thanks, HD technology!) but when you take a look at the big picture, it really doesn’t detract from the plainly obvious fact that she’s INSANELY HOT.
And so is this movie! So go watch it.
*Come to think of it, they should’ve gotten Gabrielle Union to play Naomie Harris’ part.