Monday, December 17, 2012


It wasn't a given that I would go see Skyfall; while I was a big Bond fan when I was younger, watching pretty much all of the films, things had changed. I had, come the end of the Brosnan era – when I was old enough to know better – realised just how hackneyed they'd become; while I'd liked Goldeneye, both The World is not Enough and Die Another Day were poor, and Tomorrow Never Dies only tolerable.

When they announced the re-casting of Bond with Daniel Craig I was happy - I've liked him in pretty much everything I've seen him in, with his small but significant role in The Road to Perdition being the standout1 – and I was even happier they were hinting that it would also be a reboot of the style, since that was the biggest problem; they'd gone way overboard with the gadgets, the seductions and the double entendres.

So, when Casino Royale arrived, I decided I'd see it at the cinema – and I'd not seen all that many Bond films at the cinema; in fact, I think I'd only seen one on the big screen was probably the worst one (in my opinion), Tomorrow Never Dies; that'd had been so bad it put me off the franchise entirely, and it was years after The World is not Enough came out that I got around to seeing it.

I wasn't overly impressed with it; it seemed like an obvious attempt to follow in the footsteps of the successful Bourne Identity films – including the irritating shaky hand-held camera and a massive shot-per-minute ratio. But it was entertaining; Craig was great as Bond and they'd dispensed with the campy humour, so it wasn't a complete loss. And I liked the theme songs, You Know My Name by Soundgarden's Chris Cornell.

Quantum of Solace I barely remember; it wasn't bad, per se, but it – obviously – just wasn't especially memorable.

So, as I wrote before, it wasn't a given that I'd be bothering to see any future exploits of Britain's favourite Walther-packing superspy on the big screen, but as a few more details about Skyfall started to appear, I became more interested in seeing it. It was to be directed by Sam Mendes, who was responsible for the aforementioned Road to Perdition and the award-winning American Beauty.

Casting was also impressive: Judy Dench would be returning as M; the truly awesome Javier Bardem would be the villain2; the excellent Ben Whishaw, who played Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in the film version of Perfume3, and was in the great UK tv series The Hour, was to be the new Q; and both brilliant stage actor Rory Kinnear4 and Ralph Fiennes – Lord Voldemort himself – would be part of MI6.

Once the positive reviews started coming in, it became a foregone conclusion. So, I went along to Palace to see it on the big number 1 screen there.

From this point there will be some spoilers.

I liked it; it was well-paced despite having a lot less action than I was expecting. They'd brought some dry humour back into it, but it wasn't as overt or tacky like it had gotten in the classic era. Daniel Craig continues to be great in the role, just exuding a sense of dangerous intensity the whole time – and managed to pull off being 'broken' very well. Javier Bardem, while given a somewhat cartoonish villain to play, was having a lot of fun. And Judy Dench was, unsurprisingly, excellent.

There were flaws, of course; Silva, Bardem's character's motivation was about the same level as that of many Bond villains, baffling in someone so intelligent – i.e. completely nonsensical, but at least he didn't use any unnecessarily slow-moving lowering devices while expounding what his grand plan was5. Then there was the idiot ball – or balls, depending on how you look at it – of why Q would be stupid enough to plus Silva's computer into the network when Silva had already demonstrated the capacity to hack MI6's systems; and, similarly, why they'd put him in a cell that could be opened remotely.

But, while that was a little annoying, it wasn't enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the film. It was a lot more serious – heck, melancholy is a more apt description – than any other Bond film I'd seen, but I don't think that's a bad thing; these days I prefer my action films to have a little bit more grit to go along with the rapid jump-cuts and explosions.

It's probably fair to say that Bond's grown up a little, and I'm perfectly fine with that.

1This, interestingly enough, is my favourite Tom Hanks film, and went a long way to changing my mind about Jude Law, who I'd pretty much always hated up until then.
2He is, of course, responsible for one of best screen villains of all time, Anton Chigurr in No Country for Old Men.
3The book, by Patrick Süskind, is a favourite of mine.
4I saw him, courtesy of NT Live, in the National Theatre productions of Hamlet and The Last of the Haussmans.
5Check out the great article on this topic at TV Tropes, Bond Villain Stupidity.


  1. The newiest action movie of james bond skyfall is really an awsome movie.

  2. Skyfall, what a great action movie of James bond series.