Skyfall

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skyfall
Daniel Craig and Aston Martin, both got lots of applause.

It’s always fun when a new James Bond movie comes out, because we can all argue at dinner parties over who the best Bond was, who the hottest Bond girls were, the best theme songs. So let’s start with those topics.

Best Bond: Sean Connery, of course. Yet I think Pierce Brosnon would’ve been the second best, if he didn’t do such bad Bond films. Timothy Dalton was the worst, but Licensed to Kill is one of the best Bond films. It’s just fun that we can now discuss it, because many pick Daniel Craig (who to me is more of a Steve McQueen than a James Bond). When I was a kid, there was only Roger Moore and Connery, with nobody picking George Lazenby since he just did one film (the underrated On Her Majesty’s Request)

Best Bond villain: Godfeld and Oddjob from Goldfinger, and a close second being Jaws, played by 7’2” actor Richard Keil (The Longest Yard).

Prettiest Bond girl: Miriam Soto (who went on to marry Benjamin Bratt), but there are so many, it always makes you sound like a perv debating it. I will say that HalleBerry and Denise Richards shouldn’t count. If you’re already famous when you are a Bond girl (Berry having won an Oscar, and been a Miss America contestant)…that’s cheating a little.

Best Bond songs: Skyfall by Adele is wonderful, but I’m not sure I can pick a favorite. It’s a tie between Nobody Does it Better, Live and Let Die, Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only. I found the songs by Chris Cornell, Madonna, Jack White/Alicia Keys to all be a tad disappointing. Now, on with the show.

Skyfall is the second best James Bond movie….that Daniel Craig has done. Sorry, I liked Casino Royale more. I’m guessing I’m the only critic that does. Many are calling Skyfall the best Bond film ever (even former Bond Roger Moore).

I found it interesting that the crowd applauded after the opening sequence. It was very exhilarating. I’ve always hated roof top chases, as they’ve been done to death. This one, on motorcycles, was a blast. It was bizarre that the crowd at the screening also applauded when the silver Aston Martin showed up. People don’t applaud cars! I don’t even think Herbie gets applause.

I thought the movie was good, up until the third act. At that point, Bond becomes a super hero, characters all do stuff they wouldn’t do, and it was just a big mess. I was sitting there wondering how one character escaped his Hannibal Lectur prison. I was wondering why another character didn’t hear machine gun fire right outside the house they were hiding in. So many questions I was asking myself, which I don’t normally do in Bond films. I don’t care if machine gun fire all misses Bond, and he can take out people with one shot. It’s James friggin Bond! I do wonder why when Bond falls into a frozen lake, the bad guy just thinks he’s dead and walks away. Would it have been that hard to stand there for another minute to see if he resurfaces?

There’s another scene where a few characters (I’m trying to be vague about things so no “spoiler alert” is necessary) take on an entire army of bad guys. Aside from wondering how they’d possibly win, I was wondering why they even got in that situation. It made no sense.

There was less sex and less gadgets in this. Oh, and the guy bringing the gadges – Q – is now a young computer whiz. A few of the characters have been brought in, as if this is a Bond reboot. Craig looked rather old in a few scenes, perhaps they should bring in another Bond. Especially since he keeps doing movies (Layer Cake and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – both better films than all of his Bond pictures), where he’s walking around with a gun. Why? Christopher Reeve wasn’t playing other characters with a red cape when he stepped away from Superman pictures. All of that brings unnecessary baggage to his Bond, which is a shame, because he’s a great Bond.

I don’t mind the story premises being similar to things we’ve seen a bunch of times. A disc has been stolen with operatives on it. The bad guy is now compromising their identities. A former agent wants revenge on M (Judi Dench). That agent is played deliciously by Javier Bardem. He’s got the Christopher Walken/Robert Show dyed hairstyle, and a touch of Hannibal Lectur, the Joker, and a few other villainous traits.

I suppose we’re supposed to wonder if Bond – who has failed his tests to get back on the field (a mix of age, and him being shot a few times in the early scenes) – will be able to defeat this bad guy.

Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean) is great as Eve, an MI-6 operative, and they have flirtatious banter that works. I just don’t like what they do with her character later in the film; especially after such a great opening sequence with her.

Berenice Marlohe is okay as Severine. She seems to express fear in her eyes, and there’s some clever dialogue when they do what Bond does with women.

Albert Finney was okay in his small role, but I felt Ralph Fiennes was wasted.

Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who did a great job with Bardem in No Country for Old Men, is always welcome. He shot the film nicely.

Director Sam Mendes has done a number of overrated movies: Revolutionary Road, Jarhead, Road to Perdition, American Beauty. He does an okay job with this, and the movie was highly entertaining. I think most people will love it, but I was a bit disappointed.

I’m giving it 2 ½ stars out of 5.

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