After 50 years, one might wonder what could have been done to freshen up the James Bond franchise. The reboot film “Casino Royale” in 2006 brought Daniel Craig into the part, whose casting and performance came with mixed reviews. That film, as well as its terribly confused follower “Quantum of Solace” did little to keep the unique flavor of Ian Flemming’s international spy and womanizer. In fact, they almost made James look like yet another Marvel comic figure. But with “Skyfall,” Bond has finally returned to being HUMAN again. Director Sam Mendes has certainly kicked off those horridly fake CGI video-game fight scenes that both “Casino” and “Quantum” were fraught with. Moreover, he also doesn’t have the instantaneous healing qualities of the Cheerleader from “Heroes” anymore. I particularly appreciated how, when he shows up in M’s (played by Judi Dench) apartment; he looked like SHIT, just like he should have.
The success of “Skyfall” falls totally in the hands of Sam Mendes. Kudos to him – he’s taken the “reboot” idea and gone retro with it – just enough to say “classic Bond wasn’t broke, so why try to fix it”, while still keeping it true to the 21st Century. And he did it so cleverly – despite the slightly kitsch bit of naming Q (played by Ben Whishaw ) and the closing scene with Eve (played by Naomie Harris ) and her new job at MI6. (Mind you, did anyone pay attention to that closing scene in M’s new offices? Remind you of anything? Wasn’t the decor terribly similar to some of the earlier Bond films? Seemed like that to me.) All this worked perfectly with Adele’s retro sounding voice that paired with a modernized version of a 60s sounding song.
Now, I wouldn’t say it was perfect by any means. I was still missing the sexual chemistry that I had hoped for. This is partially because Daniel Craig just never seemed handsome enough for the part, as far as I was concerned. Nor has he been directed to make his Bond charming enough to overcome his less than pretty face. On the other hand, I can say that the villain (played by Javier Bardem ) Silva’s steamy little pass at Bond showed real sexual desire there for a second. As for the Bond girl, while Eve looked like she was interested, Bond’s reciprocations were only in his lines and he failed to return the heat on any physical level – at least for me. And his tryst with her that cut to fireworks – come on! Really?
As for Severine (played by Berenice Marlohe ), she certainly was pretty enough for the part, but seemed to lack that cat-like slyness and slinky sexuality that most of the bad Bond girls have. The biggest problem with her was she broke her cool and succumbed to showing her true feelings far too quickly for my taste. What good is having a bad Bond girl who isn’t bad herself? Her fear of Silva also seemed unfounded since he was more brilliantly revengeful and psychotic than evil, mean or vile. Plus, I didn’t find her shower scene with Bond all that sexy (but at least she didn’t swoon while giving out the traditional sigh of “Oh, James”).
On the plus side, almost all of the action scenes were gripping (despite a moment of badly added backgrounds while on the rooftops of the Grand Bazaar, and the ponderous ways that Bond got out of the water – both times). Bardem made a wonderful villain and while the blond hair job added to his off-color look, I’m sure he could have pulled off the nastiness without the highlights. His clever way of wreaking havoc was superbly executed, and his motivation was perfectly sociopathic. Furthermore, the reintroduction of Bond’s throw-away lines that made us laugh, were as welcome as they could be. Bond even gave a half-smile as he delivered one of them, which almost made him charming.
As a whole, “Skyfall” is actually greater than the sum of its parts. These niggles weren’t enough to ruin the overall enjoyment of the film. Having a storyline that was straight forward and uncomplicated meant we could focus on the action and the characters. We got back the fallible Bond whose weaknesses come through but are almost immediately sidelined in the face of duty. This is the Bond we remember who cares so little for his own safety that he can easily make light of his situations. With “Skyfall”, Sam Mendes has brought us right to the point where we feel that this franchise is going in the right direction, staunchly in the 21st century, after coming full circle by bringing back the best parts of the original films from 50 years ago. Bravo! (And… encore, please, Mr. Mendes!)
Related articles by this author:
Bond 23: Who could sing the next James Bond Theme Song?
Bond 23: Who could be one of the next Bond girls?
Bond 23: Who could play Bond’s next adversary?
Bond 23: Sam Mendes to Direct…
James Bond Actors – Who was the Best?