Skyfall is a fine spy film, yet not quite Bond’s best…

 

I was excited.  The origin story of Agent 007, the incomparable James Bond would be coming full circle.  And all though there are plenty of strong aspects to Skyfall, overall I was left wanting more…Bond.  Despite some gorgeous cinematography, a beautiful score, well choreographed action sequences and strong performances–I still felt it was lacking in pacing and purpose and did not have the fun-factor that Bond usually provides.

I’ve watched Bond films for all of my life–I remember marathons during the holidays when I was a child and was always in line to see the latest in the 50 year franchise.  The last re-boot of the series with Daniel Craig as 007 has been interesting for me. I loved Casino Royale and loved the origin story concept.  It was clever and fresh to approach the character from a never seen before angle–before he was Bond–the possibilities were endless.  Quantum of Solace was okay (wonderful action sequences), but again…it was a direct continuation of CR and still part of the “origin”, so I made excuses for it.  Because of this approach I kept waiting for the evolution of Craig’s Bond.

Well…that doesn’t completely happen in Skyfall and I am a bit disappointed.  Again, we are in serious territory.  There are few witty moments, but overall this is heavy and about 20 minutes too long.  The pacing at times was painful and I am sorry, but long-lingering shots of Craig in a tuxedo does not make him Bond.  Okay–he is gritty, real and serious, but he will become Bond–confident, arrogant, playful and dangerous–right?  I do see more and more of that in Craig (fixing his cuff-links on the train is a good start), so I remain hopeful.

Also, although Javier Bardem is an excellent actor, I did not believe he was the incarnation of evil.  His motivation is so single-minded that it is almost too simple and yet, it takes the entire film for him to try to exact his revenge.  A major problem with his Silva is that I never believe he is any of the things they claim him to be and he doesn’t really live up to the hype that surrounds him.  At least I can say he is entertaining.

That said…there are a lot of positives, too.  I was surprised by Director Sam Mendes skill of handling action.  Mendes is known for intimate character studies and he uses that well here–but he also creates some intense, well structured action (the opening is brilliant).  Thomas Newman’s score is beautiful and haunting.  One of the best this year.  What really blew me away was the cinematography!  Roger Deakins continues to impress.  His use of bold colors, bright hues, shadows and silhouettes is breathtaking.  WOW!  There is a fight scene in a building in Shanghai that is amazing.  (I hope this finally wins him an Oscar.)

Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes are, as usual, wonderful.  As the authority figures they fit their roles perfectly. Dench is a stand out here–her M is one of the movie’s strengths.  The Bond girls are almost non-existent in this film–but Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe are both good.  I was really looking forward to the new Q (one of my favorite characters), and I liked Ben Whishaw, who is perfectly nerdy and awkward.  I wish there was more playful interaction between him and Bond, but maybe that will come with time.

And that is pretty much it–maybe that will come with time–seems to be my mantra.  I keep waiting for the Bond I love to return to the screen.  I appreciate that these last 3 are good spy films yet they’re not quite my Bond.  Skyfall is fun and entertaining and will be a fine addition to the series, but I can not join the crowds praising it as the “best Bond film ever” (that is still Goldfinger, with Casino Royale a close second).  Hopefully though, if the ending is any indication, maybe my Bond will show up the next time.

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